I feel like I have been searching my entire life for “more.” For freedom to learn what I want, when I want and for the freedom live a more creative, adventurous life. I have been gong through a paradigm shift with many ideas, beliefs and even values lately. I am becoming passionate about nutrition and how it has amazing abilities to heal the body, about creating my own USANA business to obtain freedom for myself and others, and since my kids are growing up way too fast (almost 4 and 2 years), I am thinking of what to do about schooling.
Two years ago I was determined to be in a “good” school district for my boys. Now that we are, it still just doesn’t feel right. I have finally figured out where these feeling stem from and that is my own terrible experiences with school conformity. I tried to forget my experiences thinking it might be different for my kids. However, I realize now that there are much better alternatives for my family.
Let me give some background. If you know me, you may not know these facts because it is not something I have widely discussed before. To put it bluntly, I am a high school drop out. I was always made to feel bad or guilty for not being successful in public school. Up until recently, I may have said “I failed at school” but now I realize that was not the case at all. School failed me, as it does for so many others. I did get my GED and then later in life, after traveling through Europe and experiencing real-life learning, I pursued and received my college degree, receiving a very high academic GPA, ironically in Education.
In early elementary school I suffered a lot of anxiety about being away from my parents. I would leave notes at my table every time we left my classroom because I was afraid my mom would come to get me (I always hoped she would) and not be able to find me. I was shy and didn’t like being there. This was just the start of my struggle with school. One particular experience that haunts me was from 4th grade. I had a specific teacher who, it seemed, did not appreciate anything I tried to do. As a punishment for doing poorly on an assignment she made me call my mom in the middle of class (in tears) to explain to her that I had not done good enough. My mom reamed her out for this, but still, as a child I felt terrible and like a failure.
In middle school I failed at math. It was not that I wasn’t trying but all those numbers on paper made no sense to me. It was like learning Chinese without ever having the opportunity to try speaking it only looking at it on paper and having to figure out what it meant. Maybe if I had spent time doing math in a real life activity it would have made more sense but it was just all workbooks and tests. I always did well on projects that put you in real-life situations (studying another country and doing different things like cooking a meal from there, dressing like a person from that area for a project, etc is one that comes to mind) because I enjoyed the real-life aspects of learning it. For the most part, I felt like I struggled through middle school.
Then high school came. Since I was already certain that I would fail academically, I wanted to be involved in the things I knew and loved. I grew up in theater and did many community plays. This was my creative outlet and I learned so much doing it. When I tried out for the high school plays I was never cast though. That left me with the feeling of failure in everything. I was going to fail my classes, fail at the creative outlet that I loved, fail at life. I started hanging out with other kids who were “failing” and that grew concern for teachers and my parents. Because they wanted me to stop hanging out with my friends, I only wanted to conform less and less. Sure, this could be called rebellion but maybe I was just sick of being told that what I was doing was never good enough for someone else’s standards. I gave up and stopped going to school.
My brother, who is actually one of the smartest people I know, struggled in school as well. He learned at his own pace and dealt with bullying. My husband had his own struggles with being labeled as having a learning “disability” in reading when the reality maybe he just learned in a different way. Lots of people have their own stories.
I don’t blame anyone, just the system itself. The education system is broken. It was made for people to conform, to learn only what and how society/government wants them to learn and behave the way society deems okay. You have to get permission to go to the bathroom, to take a break, to eat. You can only work on a certain subject when the teacher says it okay. How can that be right? Of course I realize that some people may have had great school experiences, and I am happy for that. However, it does not change the predicament of what those schools do to the creativeness and freedom of children. School is an institution and so is jail, which is what school feels like for so many kids.
When I was in school, people did not realize they had other educational options or, if they did, it was highly frowned upon. Now that I know what the school system is actually about, and after internalizing my own experiences, how could I want to send my own children to participate in such a system? At one point I played around with the idea of sending my 3-year old to preschool and even toured it but he was so anxious about being left there without me that I decided to wait. Now I realize how great of a decision it was. Why should I put him in that same anxiety situation that I felt as a child. Many children just need to gain that independence from their parents when they feel ready. Sure, you can force it but you never know how that traumatic experience will effect them later.
Growing up we took many family road trips and vacations to historical places. I loved learning in those situations and learning right in the middle of it all. Those are real life experiences. Why not teach like that? There are many alternative ways for children to learn, like Homeschooling and Unschooling, that are becoming more and more well known and accepted now. If you are not familiar with Unschooling, it is a method of homeschooling that puts the desire, drive, motive and responsibility for life-learning (or education) in the hands of the learner without an actual curriculum. Think of it like a combination of Montessori style learning combined with homeschooling. There are many books and resources available on this method if you are interested in more information.
As I have stated in my blog description “about me,” I searched relentlessly for jobs for my husband in other areas. My search was so wide though. Italy, Germany, Mexico, Florida, Hawaii were some of the places but I could never decide how to narrow my search down so I looked everywhere of interest hoping that something, anything, would present an opportunity. It hit me now that, with Usana as my income, and unschooling for my kids, we don’t have to choose. I know how to make a residual income through a great network marketing company, where I can work and earn money from any location. I can still spend time in our “home state,” giving my kids some roots and time with family, while also taking my kids to live for any length of time in different locations where they will be experiencing and learning through immersion in other cultures. The other HUGE bonus is that my husband will be able to enjoy the freedom of spending time with our kids and not working more than he sees his family.
I realize now that this is my path and the best part is, I get to be unschooled too (“An unschooled adult, or parent, is one who is loving the self designed life they have created for themselves. They may be entrepreneurs, travelers, create large incomes or small, simple ones. They know what foods, friendships, work, play and spiritual connections allow them to feel alive and challenged and satisfied.” -http://unschooling.com/what-is-unschooling/)!
After starting Usana and my health and freedom junkie blog, I have been conflicted on what focus I am really drawn to in my business. I knew I wanted health and I knew I have always wanted freedom. Now I also know that I want to help families break free from the chains of society-schooling. If you have been contemplating how school is actually working for your kids but are not sure how you can make a living and homeschool/unschool them at the same time, join me. I can show you how to make it a reality! Ready? We are embarking on an amazing life and journey together as a family. Join us!!!