How Did We Get Here? a.k.a. ”another fine mess you’ve got us into this time, Ollie!”
Cliff Notes Version: wrote a blog, Come Out of the Shadows that got a little attention. A friend introduced me to Lainie who hosts For the Love of Learning, a series of online panel discussions. Lainie fell in love with “RU as a Social Movement” for a future panel topic I will be a panelist. A non-practitioner instigator swimming with the real expert do-ers….
We need to gather input and break things down into logical sub-topics prior to the panel discussion., to help establish priority focal points and get a running start at this huge plate of spaghetti.
I’m a Big Fan of Shared Vision and this is just my musings until others join in. The ideal end result is a collaborative “what-if” manifesto with several contributing thinkers, and no one “owner”.
While this targets a specific small group of panelists, if you’ve just dropped by we’d love to hear what you think too! There are several buckets of ideas and very specific questions coming your way. I don’t go looking for traffic so this blog is a quiet little corner of cyberspace. Please feel free to comment!
Ambitious Structural Thought: it’s really frustrating when a comment thread gets so cumbersome that you can’t keep track of all the good stuff people say. For several of the big questions, I’ll create and link a placeholder blog. Follow the link if you want to comment on that question, and when I can I’ll tie the comments together in the blog space. If there isn’t a placeholder link, just comment here!
What Will the Panel Focus On?
Broadly, we will explore the possibility of elevating radical unschooling’s visibility, of building broad grassroots support for the very attainable vision of helping to create a better world. Call it a social movement because whole-life learning and subscribing to RU principles can be the catalyst for more caring and compassionate communities, creating a more sustainable society. I believe it, as you probably do. But not enough other people know that yet, and that is what we’ll discuss changing!
What Constitutes a “Social Movement”? (homegrown definition, not textbook. What’s yours?) COMMENT HERE http://wp.me/p4xnz1-8k
Movements are fueled by passionate, like-minded people who share attitudes and perceptions but more importantly, mindsets that lead to action and social change….”movement”…get it? Movements require broad grassroots support–enough critical mass to be noticed, taken seriously, and make a difference. RU isn’t there yet. We have plenty of passionate, like-minded people who mostly share the grand notion that RU can change the world. But RU lives out of sight, underground. We don’t have the needed visibility, we’re lacking critical mass. And, other than that sweeping grand notion, we don’t have a flag to rally around. Changing the world is serious business. We need details.
Even Though RU May Deserve to be Elevated to “Social Movement” Status, should it be? (COMMENT? Same as last link above)
It’s easy for me the outsider looking in to say “of course…it must”. But what about the practitioner community? What are the pro’s and con’s from your perspective? Can practitioners be convinced they are champions for a world-changing social movement, and that it’s time to come together?
Drive things down to an everyday, mainstream, grassroots level of accessibility and relevance. “Radical” unschooling (even the name is intimidating!) and other elements of human growth–mindfulness, yoga, spirituality, social-emotional learning and development, engagement, purpose, values…if RU is to go mainstream and become capable of weathering potential attacks and resistance from the establishment, John and Mary Everyman must be the real targets of an awareness-building campaign. The mainstream can be understandably discouraged, disconnected, frustrated, confused with what looks like voodoo mumbo-jumbo. They don’t know where to start, what to do.
Develop a Communication Strategy: a coordinated PR / marketing campaign, not hit-and-miss. Sounds crass and un-un, but that’s what it is. Message consistency is essential….we really need a powerful narrative. Following: a bunch of thoughts-in-process on messaging.
Build broad awareness, understanding, support, buy-in of these groups (COMMENT HERE http://wp.me/p4xnz1-8p ) :
- Private sector is essential for RU to become publicly legitimate.
- Potential new unlearners: what are the entry barriers? What support do fence-sitters need?
- General public: awareness leading to open acceptance and inclusion. Driven by a “Greater Good” focus, the realization that RU is whole-life with a huge WIIFM upside for everyone, all ages. RU needs a more cohesive identity, not within the community but externally with the general public. Broad understanding and acceptance of RU would lead to greater societal inclusion and unschoolers being able to practice openly, without fear. Goal: recognition of the legitimacy of RU, and of the impact potential for significant contribution by unschoolers to society and the workplace.
- Political support, advocacy for RU-friendly policy, a buffer against a potential onslaught by current establishment authoritarians and profiteers who stand to benefit from leaving unwell enough alone. We can go up against the establishment only with critical mass, a huge grass roots support system.
Hot-off-the-presses-thought, from practitioner friend Heather: “RU a a Social Movement” is so big, should we focus our efforts on one group? What is the feasibility and the impact of influencing….
- Traditional education, the establishment?
- Middle-grounders already into some form of alt ed…charters, home-schoolers?
- Fence-sitters still mired in traditional education, wanting to make the Big Jump but not knowing how or where to start?
How can we build awareness and increase acceptance beyond the RU community? (COMMENT HERE http://wp.me/p4xnz1-8p “Acceptance” of what, and by whom?
- The masses. Encourage more people to embrace alternative ed as practitioners, or at least as community supporters and advocates.
- They don’t know what they are missing…a talent pool stocked with creative, passionate, purposeful, principles-centered lifelong learners. Just the intrinsic qualities the new workplace most needs. This is my wheelhouse, the private sector can be an incredible ally if there’s greater profit involved.
- The establishment. We’re looking at a messed up political / education policy horizon with for-profit education and privatization. How can the RU community defend its rights and with what? Non-believers will want to see proof and the more airtight the case the better.
- The law. Compliance is a nuisance at the very least and a deterrent to more widespread practice at the worst. Needed: strong advocacy with policy makers, and the backing of a solid grass roots movement. “They” won’t be as prone to bully something they can’t whup on.
Identify factual, relevant WIIFM for each target group and reinforce with anecdotal stories, Comment here…same a last link! http://wp.me/p4xnz1-8p
- There’s plenty of specific “what’s in it for me” for each stakeholder group;
- Minimize the voodoo, weird incantations, mystical-sounding labels. That’s all great for practitioners, but for the uninitiates, John and Mary Everyman (the critical mass!) it can be scary and intimidating as all get-out;
- For both the private sector and youth development: workers deserve an exploration-intensive, creative, fun environment built on trust, honesty, respect, compassion and mutual respect. They perform at an incredibly higher level under those conditions (hey CEO’s…that means big bottom line impacts). Kids thrive in that environment too. Data on job and academic performance, and on peoples’ overall happiness and satisfaction with life is plentiful.
MORE BREAKING NEWS….tonight while I was working on this piece, I took a break to surf my Un network. There were TWO (now three!) excellent posts of resources for fence-sitters and general audience awareness, both on Facebook. Here’s the drawback: FB posts have such an incredibly short shelf life. It’s a drive-by medium, especially when it comes to information sharing. Really good stuff is gone in a fleeting moment and replaced by other stuff. Where can people go when they need to find the right RU information? A one-stop clearinghouse with multiple sources is ideal
BARRIER? Concensus among practitioners = cat-herding. A practitioner warned me “…narrative might be hard to define – many RU’ers are anarchists, and if they aren’t they have been so jaded by the system that they are anti statists. Organization into narrative is almost antithetical. So how to get the buy in for that?
Indeed, how? We need to sing from one sheet, in one communal Voice, without the appearance of authoritarian airs or a central controlling figurehead. A really tricky balancing act…how can this come about? My opinion: through a shared, co-developed narrative. What we do, why it’s important. Clear and compelling for both the community and for the general public. Catch 22 / chicken or egg. Need a compelling narrative to rally the community, but need community to design the narrative.
Barrier to Solidarity? The RU practitioner community appears to have more than its fair share of big egos, closely guarded individuality, dueling experts, infighting…generally highly independent people. Is it a by-product of the environment / nature of the beast? Practitioners: WHY the Cowboy Culture, can it be overcome? SHOULD it be?
Barriers to Entry? What is difficult, or causes prospective new families to hesitate or back away from committing? How can the community minimize the barriers, and make RU easier to access?
A Rose By Any Other Name Still Packs Thorns. Building a stronger, unified RU community requires clear vision and focus—a compelling narrative, defining a cohesive community purpose that is principles-centered and driven by shared values. But maybe first, something needs to be done abut what we call it. There’s evidently been plenty of debate over this, so I’ll just add my neophyte perspective. “Radical unschooling” is confusing and scary as hell. And I was / am a “radical”…do you guys, like, occupy schools? Oh…you abandon them! Right ON.
Vision, Purpose, Values…What’s the Big Deal? COMMENT HERE: http://wp.me/p4xnz1-8t
RU as a social movement would be a world changer. Humanity is exterminating itself. Not just nukes, climate change, famines or epidemics, but also extinction triggered by Terminal Lost Mojo, for lack of a better term. We’ve disconnected from our core humanness, society is coming apart at the seams.
RU: anti radicalization elixir? Ex white supremacist Christian Picciolini, author of ‘Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead’ noted young people are much more likely to radicalize into gangs when they have no other source of identity, community, meaning, purpose.
An Iraqi who was an anti-terrorism expert (scary fast crowd, huh?) noted that when identity, purpose, values are lacking, it is a significant enough deficiency that it makes ISIS appealing to disenfranchised Muslim youth. Was it the same for people buying into Hitler? Is it the same for people buying into our current nationalism? (sorry! I swore I wouldn’t get political…)
Identity, community, principles / values, meaning, purpose are the most powerful universal human drivers. They are right up there with love, compassion, the need to connect and contribute. Those principles are, in my opinion, where society is self-destructing. Those things are also high on the list of what makes RU work.
The Big Honkin’ Greater Good Big Deal SAME as last Comment link! http://wp.me/p4xnz1-8t
I’ve had quite a gradual evolution over the years. But all along, a subtle awareness had been brewing. It finally came to a head. YOUNG kids are killing themselves. A beautiful young lady in my home town, my oldest grand daughter’s 7th grade classmate. I had taught him. Suicide at any age is a terrible tragedy. Depression, anxiety, stress are increasing and out of control, and it affects kids, teens, adults. We’re killing ourselves with this modern lifestyle.
Too many good people are soured on life. You can see it in their eyes, their spirit is drained. Their expression and demeanor screams “I hate my life!” No purpose, no meaning, no fulfillment. We keep pushing our Selves further and further away from what is natural, starting with the way we raise and “teach” our children to the way we approach life as adults, including the nature of work and the meaning of “success”. We’re at constant war with our humanness, our core values. We’ve done it to our Selves from early childhood on.
We’ve disconnected from our Earth Mother. We rape and poison her in every way possible, and we’ve stretched her way beyond her capacity to support this species. And we poison ourselves along the way. Then we wonder why we’re stressed out, miserable, literally killing our Selves physically and emotionally.
We’re doing this all wrong. RU can change the world. Am I just drunk on the koolaid? I think not (hic).