un-schooling

[written 06/21/04]

hi. i got back from mexico (it was great great – i’ll post some pics soon) and now find myself in a bit of a puzzle and not a little frustrated. where do i begin?

my first year of library school is over and i could, if i worked real hard, finish a year from now, though i might just take it a little easier and graduate a year and a half from now. either way, that’s to figure out in the winter or spring. but for sure, this year is over. i’m taking one summer class only, and even that one might be dropped if i’m just not feeling it.

that leaves me, at least for the month of july and most of september (ucla starts classes at the end of september; august is booked solid with five days or so devoted to saa and ten days to italy with my family), with an incredible amount of free time. all i have scheduled for those roughly eight weeks is thirty hours of work a week, maybe one class on tuesday afternoons, and a birthday party on july 3rd.

so what’s my problem? i feel bewildered, i guess – the last two months or so i’ve been feeling pretty stressed and unhappy with the loss of control i feel over my time. it’s been building up since beginning school again, but i could handle it the first few months since i had two years before that of no school and lots and lots of unstructured time. but, with the winter quarter and definitely by the spring quarter, i became a complete hog with my free time. understandable, i think. but not very nice to be around and ultimately made me feel pretty guilty and defensive and just give in whole-hog (lots of pig-words here..) to my escapist tendencies. ay. (see, this is what’s good about blogging/journaling..) i’m realizing what’s been making me feel antsy and grumpy all day. i mean, i woke up this morning and just felt argh. confusing, right? wasn’t i supposed to be really but really happy today, now that classes are finally over, no family responsibilities or plans (not that i didn’t love that you visied mami, but you know..), just free free time?

Grace Llewellyn, who wrote the incredible teenage liberation handbook, which talks about homeschooling, or as she calls it, “un-schooling”, harps on the need for detoxing after deciding to leave the traditional schooling system. i read this book the year i graduated from bryn mawr and it just clicked, making so much sense. i was so stressed out that last year, just so unhappy, really. and i knew, starting this program at ucla, that the same thing could happen again. in fact, would happen again unless i took at least some strong precautions, such as from the get go planning to graduate in three versus two years.

anyhow, in the book, llewellyn says how that detox time – ranging from anywere from a week to six months – is the time to plan nothing. that’s it, nothing. (i’ll look up the exact phrasing when i get home later today.)

i remember last december, i was getting all excited about the free two weeks vacation i would have here in l.a. after the winter quarter was over and i would be back from the hectic greatness of family holidays, and i was making this really ambitious to-do list, and vacya suggested that maybe i would be happier not to plan anything and just do what i wanted to, like a vacation should be. he was right, and i was really happy those weeks.

so, once again, i feel the urge to make big to-do lists and structure all my time. but no! i don’t want to. and i won’t! i’m interested in so much stuff, i will not tie myself done to this or that, i’ve done that already for most of this year. i won’t do it for my vacation. and this is vacation. it’s so much easier to be firm when away from my job/l.a./apartment. then, it’s like “no, no tours, thank you” and “no, i just want to sit by the pool/ocean and do nothing (i.e. read, laugh, take pictures, write, listen to music, play, dream, sleep, eat)”.

i’ll think about this some more, and edit/shorten this whole post a bit, but here’s a good quote from one reader (from amazon, but if you’re going to get the book, try isbn.nu), “..i have spent the last decade of my life unlearning bad habits that are directly a result of being coerced for years into doing things that are irrelevant to my life, and being subject to arbitrary authorities.” exactly. and: “it is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin. it is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” — albert einstein

~ andrea