Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Law, Grace and Classical Ed

I really like the idea of Classical Education- really like it. I get the stages, understand the Great Conversation and wanna rock the world with little SWB wannabe's. The reality is that, at heart I'm a classical unschooler. I use the term "classical" unschooler because I want you to realize that the John Holt and Colfax unschoolers of the world are radically different than the ones you see today on T.V. (you know, the ones that spend their days playing video games and having Nerf gun wars in their front yard). I might be an educational anarchist, but I'm not an educational nihilist. Not one little bit.

I've been thinking about outcome based education because Classical Ed is supposed to deliver, right? We have uber educated kids on our hands (in theory anyway), so they should be going to good schools with great scholarships and rocking the academy. The problem is that some of our kids don't want, or even believe, in higher ed the way it's currently defined: years of conformity, lots of debt and hoop jumping. Furthermore, they are unclear about the kind of training they'll be getting. Training and degrees are 2 very different things. My kids look at higher ed very practically. And given the debt, the time, and the demands of it, I can't say that I blame them.

But what to do? What's the point then?

I had an epiphany this week-end, brought about by an unexpected and unpleasant event, in conjunction with a good book, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. I realized that I am just not cut out for middle class house-wifedom, conformity or fitting in. It's stresses me out. I've given it a go and I think I'm quitting.

We've deliberately done too many things out of the ordinary. We wanted to. We were willing to pay for it. But somewhere along the way we got bogged down in status-quo and trying to prove ourselves and respond to the many voices that griped at us about not following the prescribed course of success, or at least acceptance.

Phooey on that. I like the way things are for other people, but it just isn't gonna work out for me.
We've moved all over the country. We've loved living everywhere; which is not to say we've loved everywhere we've lived. We've earned beaucoups degrees; we love learning. We've had a bunch of kids; which has been a blast, for the most part. We wanted to re-claim an old farmhouse/ homestead;  we've been doing that and it's been challenging, rewarding and satisfying (please note the deliberate avoidance of the word "fun" here). Dr. Dh wanted to be a social scientist. I wanted to homeschool. We both want to write and teach and think and be agents of change. So we do those things. But somehow paying the mortgage and getting the middle class, middle age responsibilities of life done has taken precedence over what we want to do next. Partly because our kids are getting older and society and our parents, and our kid's friends parents all ask where they are going to school, and what SAT scores they got and what kind of scholarships they have and WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO NEXT. And if it's not "normal" or doesn't make sense, not only do we have to deal with our struggle with those questions and our answers,  but we have to deal with our kids struggle with those questions and answers .

Case in point, KB going to Cosmetology School instead of college. KB is smart, beautiful, witty and good,and did I mention smart? Further more her parents are smart and have degrees. Why on earth would she go to Beauty School? She reads The Universe Next Door in her free time, and paints, and writes. She's talented. Isn't all of that talent wasted? Aren't the years of classical ed; the Latin attempts, the Logic and History and Lit wasted?

Well, no. Because classical ed isn't about a specific outcome. It's about education, and freedom, and choices; choosing on your own instead of working off of a script.

Oh Lord, it's hard to be an anarchist. But really, when I really, really think about it, that's what a life of faith is;  that's the Way of the Cross, and the way of true education.. It's about charting a new course.

KB has a skill, little to no debt, money in the bank and the freedom to move anywhere in the world. In fact, she just moved across the county. She took her paints, and her books, and her hair cutting scissors with her, along with her love of philosophy, theology, art and beauty. She hasn't bailed on education or how she was raised. She's just decided that the way things are don't have to define her, or enslave her, or force her into debt or a job, or a way of life that doesn't suit her.

She chose. Because she knows she has a choice. Status Quo isn't the only option.


Linking up with Teach Beside Me and the Carnival of Homeschooling.


Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

Popping in from Trivium Tuesday. I so hear your post and say a very loud AMEN. My kids have all chosen paths that are very different but meaningful and exciting, some including college and some not.

I think it is a product of their self-driven learning and just extending that beyond the confines of high school.

You have done a good thing!

Meg said...


I've decided I'm not pressuring college. If kiddo wants a career that needs it, then you better work on your education. (One wants to be a physical therapist -- which kinda requires a degree and a license, so he better get into college.) If kiddo wants to be a plumber...well, hey, we ALL want toilets that flush on command. As long as they're doing the best they can at what they choose, I'm good.

The hard part is when they are young -- because if they don't put in the work now, they don't have the OPTION to choose when they're older.

LaughingLioness said...

Meg, thank-you for your kind comments! Exactly- education is a front end load propsition. And, serioulsy, having paid plumbers and electricians during our house re-build- they are making GREAT money ; )!

LaughingLioness said...

Barb- thanks! And exactly! It's just an extension of what we've been doing all along!

Caitilin said...

"I realized that I am just not cut out for middle class house-wifedom, conformity or fitting in. It's stresses me out. I've given it a go and I think I'm quitting."

So, Lisa, what are you going to be doing then? ;)

Zelda said...

Love this - gives me great hope that my girls will do what they want to do and not what everyone else wants them to do :)

Annie Kate said...

Yep, we have the degrees and the semi-classical ed...mixed with beekeeping, chocolate making, gardening, novel-writing, and other unschooly things.

But I do hope my kids get some kind of advanced education; we've seen the bias against people without 'bits of paper' i.e. diplomas and how that bias can ruin lives.

It all comes down to the individual child, though. And how much money they have available for advanced formal learning.

LaughingLioness said...

Caitilin- I don't know yet : )!

Annie Kate- right, the balance between having what it takes to NOT be limited and NOT being limited by what it "takes."

Leslie said...

I really like this post. We also classically educate at home and I have just started thinking the same thoughts. Why go to college? Aren't we teaching them all the skills needed to know HOW to learn anything they are interested in, and learn it well? Thankfully, I have a few years before this comes up at our home.
Thanks for the comment and for filling me...followed you back :)

Amy Maze said...

Great post! You describe exactly what classical education is about...giving our children an ability to learn, and learn really anything! It is fantastic that your daughter chose an option that gives her so much freedom. That is very wise. Obviously children who want certain careers will have to take a more traditional/expected route, but I love to hear stories of people who think outside the box. Thank you for encouraging us with this last week at Trivium Tuesdays!

Mama Squirrel said...

My oldest daughter (homeschooled through grade 9) is a licensed hairstylist. She got most of her qualifications as part of her high school program (along with enough science, math and other stuff to get her into university, which is what she did next). My second one is leaning towards cosmetology as well. Nothing wrong with that!

Linda said...

We don't really follow the classical model of education, but I love the idea of teaching the student how to learn so that they will always have that skill. I admire your ability to accept the things you can't change...I have yet to master that ability. I worry that because my daughter told me and everone else who would listen that she wanted to be a veterinarian, that we are funneling her that direction, regardless of her thoughts on the matter now. Thanks for the reminder to adapt and accept her choices. I hope I am giving her a foundation(we use Time4Learning as our core) that will serve her well in the future, whatever her choices.