…or rather, I’m here again.
I got busy. And I got scared. I am on the tenure-track, and important conversations were happening in my department. The idea of spending my evenings on this blog, rolling around in the radical teaching I was trying to do was appealing for several reasons, but suddenly I realized that disclosing the specifics of the activities and assignments might be a bad idea. My identity might not remain anonymous for long and I would come under even more fire for being a non-conformist than I already was.
Because, really, that’s what unschooling is about: rejecting conformity, resisting the staggeringly high value our education system places on conformity. Over the past year, this has become clearer to me than ever – and my fight against it has become more conscious and deliberate than ever.
I am less paranoid than I was two years ago. I am also somewhat safer, which helps tremendously in easing paranoia. But I am still concerned, because all around me, all around the US, people appear heavily invested in education that doesn’t educate.
It’s worse than that: I don’t think we agree on what education should be, on what its goals are, on what an educated person looks like.
I have been talking with my ten year-old (whom I shall call “Monkey,” until she learns this and insists that I change it, probably to something like “Valleria Calyx Montegue Serafina”) about college throughout her entire life using the phrase “when you go to college.” Monkey is excited. She reads my syllabi and my students’ papers. I joke that I will live under her bed because otherwise I will miss her too much. We laugh over scenarios in which she is talking with her friends and I pop my head out because I am hungry. We speculate about course offerings and the kinds of papers she will write and the relationships with professors and the quality of food on her campus.
Last semester, having just read Ginsberg’s The Fall of the Faculty and a slew of columns and blog posts on the state of higher education that I am unprepared to link just now, I came home and announced that I was unconvinced that she would want to go to college when the time came. Startled, she asked me why.
“Because I’m not sure college is like that anymore, anywhere. It might be that by the time you go to college, it will be just like high school,” I told her. I was taken aback by the weight of the sadness I felt as I spoke.
And so I am back. Because now, with a professionally tumultuous couple of years behind me, I am ready to fight. I am ready to do whatever I can toward a world in which college is a good place for my daughter.