I was an experiment

I think maybe I’m not anymore.

But I was an experiment.

No one was really sure how homeschooling would work out when my parents decided to give it a go. I mean, there were a few kids who had made it through, like the Colfaxes up on the farm in Northern California, who trotted off to Harvard after mastering all that goat herding and fence building. I don’t think my parents expected me to go to Harvard. Actually, I know they didn’t.

(This picture makes me really jealous of the Colfaxes. source)

I am the first born. It sounds a little epic when you write it (and when you put it in bold). Like there’s probably a prophecy somewhere about me and how I’ll save the world from Voldemort or something. Which I feel like there probably isn’t, because I haven’t had to learn any magic yet, and I’m getting kinda old for that sort of thing.

My brothers had it easier. By then, it seemed like homeschooling was working reasonably well, even though there was no real evidence that I had learned any math.

I am very cutting edge. You know, I’m part of a tiny group of grown unschoolers who are out in the world, doing stuff. Being people. Succeeding wildly. OK, maybe not that last bit. But I’m not sitting for hours on end in Grand Central Station, either, staring at the enormous clock in the hopes that eventually I’ll learn to tell time.

We used . . . → Read More: I was an experiment

Revolution is necessary

Sir Ken Robinson is really funny. Listening to him talk about education is a little like watching a comedy routine. I wish I had a British accent. If I had a British accent, I’d be so much funnier. My favorite thing about people with British accents is that they can make noises that count as words. They’ll just trail of and go, “Hummghhrrawwhhj….” and that will count. It will even sound good. People with American accents can’t do that. We have to use words constantly. It’s very limiting.

Anyway, Sir Ken Robinson gave an amazing talk called “The Element” for the Aspen Institute that is worth watching, if you have a free hour and are willing to sit through an incredibly long, fabulously entertaining and mostly unrelated introduction to the topic. When he eventually makes a point or two, they are awesome. He talks about how people rarely do what they love with their lives. They are rarely in their element. And that is a huge waste of human talent and potential. He talks about ADHD and compares it to the rash of tonsil removal procedures that were so popular when he was a kid.

(I like him. source)

But my favorite thing that Robinson says is that the paradigm needs to change. The paradigm of school. It’s broken. I believe that. And I feel nervous about saying it, because I didn’t go to school. I feel like I’m not allowed to say it. So I carefully say things . . . → Read More: Revolution is necessary

Bird by bird

I finally started reading Bird by Bird. Obviously, I should have read it about five years ago. Possibly more. I’m a writer, after all, and Bird by Bird is THE book about being a writer. Anne Lamott unites writers everywhere through her self-deprecating, reassuring descriptions of us as a mentally unstable, tormented, and chronically insecure bunch. We have a lot in common. We believe that publication will save us. We worship the false god of perfectionism until we are driven to insanity. We imagine that other, published, writers get everything right on the first try. We pay close attention to our lives and to the lives around us. We have a special relationship with the sprawling, unfocused world. We bring it into focus, little by little. Bird by bird.


It’s all very flattering, to imagine myself in the company of Anne Lamott as I freak out about my latest assignment and wonder how it was that at some point I was able to delude myself into imagining that I could write. The last sentence, for instance! All of the words should be rearranged! And this from someone who JUST wrote a piece about learning how to write. It’s disgusting.

Anne Lamott is soothing. Sure, she got her first book published by Viking at twenty-six (TWENTY-SIX!), but it’s OK, she and I are really completely alike.

She tells her class, and her readers, to start small. To think back to the things that we all have in common. To . . . → Read More: Bird by bird


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