Monday, September 21, 2009

First Day Of School

My little girl had her first day of school today, she was excited and prepared with all the necessities.  Instead of walking her to the bus stop I took her picture and said goodbye at the door as she got in her car and drove off.  The time passes so quickly.

Having been unschooled all of her life she was never confronted with the idea of leaving home each day to be told how and what to learn.  She was free to choose what bliss was calling her name at the time, even if it was a video game.  Now, just 12 days from her 19th birtday, she has chosen to attend college.  She has already logged 2 years of employment with the same company, watched how others are living (or wasting) their lives and chose to take a path which includes a college degree.  She doesn't struggle with the negative experiences I had in school or have to ask, "Why am I here?".  It wasn't assumed that she would go to college and when she first began working she thought she never would.  Life and the example of others gave her a better view into her own future.

I, being a terminal student, love college.  I would revel in the chance to live on campus and spend every waking hour studying, listening to lectures and discussing philosophy, history, psychology, art history and more.  Lanora is more pragmatic, get in, get the degree and get on with her life but I hope she'll enjoy some of the magic that being surrounded by other learners can bring.  I waited several years after high-school to start college and expected it to be a repeat of my previous experience.  I enjoyed high school but it was due to extracurricular activities like music and drama; the rest required little to no effort from me.  I came away with the message that graduation was more of shove out the door with little concern about my success.  What I discovered was that college could be anything I made of it and no one was going to hand me a grade without the work.  I bloomed and found I loved learning; any subject (except geography).

Also learned was that I could have made the same experience out of elementary, middle and high school but the force factors creates two disabling traps.  1 - If, like me, you have a hard time rising in the morning and would much rather be home with mommy (most 5 year olds would) you begin to see school as a painful detention to be endured with as little involvement as possible.  2 - Kids realize, early on, that they have to be there and the othere side of that coin is that the schools have to educate them.  The resentment at being forced usually leads to a sense of entitlement and if you want to see that in action just watch an episode of "My Super Sweet 16" or watch how kids vandalize and trash their own schools.  Okay, yes, the path leading to this behavior is complex but I will assert that force and coercion are the cornerstone.

Watching my beautiful, confident, crazy intelligent and balanced girl leave for a school course she chose was a great sight.  She still bemoans the necessity of proving she's smart enough for the job just because she got a degree but she knows it's a hoop, nothing more.  She also knows that no one can dictate this for her, they may hold out the hoop but she doesn't have to jump through.  This alone makes the jumping a moment of control for her, she can see the hoop for what it is and even the person holding it probably can't.

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