Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unschooled for Life: Idzie's view

I've promised to post about grown unschoolers who by-pass not only high school but higher institutionalized education- period- in preference of a 'do it yourself' approach to living.

This doesn't mean in all cases that they will never enter institutions at some point; just means that they've done well without schooling so why start now if you can get what you want without the huge expense?
The idea is catching on as we re-examine our lifestyle choices and has now seeped into the mainstream. Scroll back to see a recent blog post about this very topic that was covered in Time Magazine: The 'Dropout' Economy (or 'Rise out' as some prefer to call it).

To begin then, here is more of an interview with unschooler Idzie Desmarais who writes a fantastic blog called I'm Unschooled. Yes I can write.

Idzie, 19 has no plans to go on to higher education; "I've managed to avoid the institutionalized schooling model my entire life, and I see no joy in spending lots of time in classrooms now," she says.

It's a question of taking the idea that formal schooling isn't the only way, all the way. Idzie says she doesn't want a "normal" job. The jobs she aspires to are occupations that don't need school; (she's already a very successful writer and has already been invited to speak at alternative education conferences!). Her job interests include natural medicine consultant, writer/editor, vegetarian/vegan cooking/catering, teaching primitive skills... which can be learned through apprenticeships.

"Going against the middle class/mainstream entrenched believe that to have a successful life you have to get higher ed can you define your idea of what success means?"

To me it's quite simple: success to me means nothing more or less than being happy. I find it pretty hard to comprehend how EVERYONE can not see this! Nothing really matters if you're not happy, or working toward finding a place in your life that brings you happiness.

"What would kind of work would make you happy?"

I just know I want to do things in a sustainable way, have a job/jobs that I don't feel guilty about. Something where I feel I'm doing good or bringing joy, something I enjoy, and something where I interact a lot with people, since I'm a very social person. Hopefully I'm not being *too* unrealistic with all of this...

"Are you working at things that already bring satisfaction as well as $$?"

I'm working at learning more about/gaining more skill at a couple of the things I've listed, but not currently earning money at them. I consider writing to be the thing that's most likely to earn money in the near future.

"What are you up to these days?"

Writing lots, working on finding/building community (one of the things I find THE MOST important!), organizing local unschooling meetings, organizing (along with my mother) a Summer unschooling gathering here in Montreal (, putting together the second issue of a zine called DIY Life Zine, trying to make more time for visual art, and spend LOTS of time outdoors, in the sun and wind and rain and swiftly alternating heat and cold that always seems to accompany spring...
"Do you like the world you live in?"

Hah, no. Or at least that's the short answer. The things I do love are people being authentically themselves, wilderness that isn't being destroyed, creatures that still survive, cultures that, despite everything being against them, are still holding on...

"How would you like to see it changed?"

Oh, boy. If I were to write a whole answer to this, it would be an essay! But the short answer is that I believe in radical decentralization, the rebirth of autonomous communities, and true sustainability. I believe in a deep respect for the land that supports us, and would love to see an end to totalitarianism, patriarchy, colonialism, and the destruction of the earth. Again, I feel like this doesn't say nearly enough, but I think It's the best I can do in a simple question/answer format...

"What is the best thing about growing without school?"

The freedom to grow and develop authentically, without all the pressure to conform conform conform. Living without the constant control of an authoritarian environment. Being in an environment where I felt (and feel) supported and loved, not watched and judged. Being able to truly get to know myself, because so, so many people really don't know themselves at all. Developing confidence that my shy, people pleasing, sensitive self would probably not have developed in school (I honestly think I would have been one of these people who leaves school with serious emotional scars). I see LOTS of advantages to being out of school...

"Do you see any disadvantages to not having attended school?"

Not having a piece of paper, which does limit jobs to some (debatable) extent (though if I chose to, I could study and get a piece of paper, so I'm not sure how much of a downside this is...).
Hmm... I guess not having *ever* been to school, it's a downside that many people say I have no right to be anti-school, because I've never experienced it (though apparently it's okay to be against poverty, even if you've never experienced it... This isn't to say that school and poverty are equal in bad-ness at all! Just to say that the argument leaves something to be desired...).
Honestly, I can't really think of much that I see as negatives!


Cheryl said...

I assume those same people who say that a person who has never been to school has "no right to be anti-school" are the same ones who have never experienced *not* going to school, yet they are "anti-unschooling"? Their own argument can be used against them to show how illogical it is. Congrats on the interview, Idzie!

Idzie said...

Thanks for doing this interview! I'm really happy to be a part of this series, and love what you're doing! :-)

Anonymous said...

This youth seems to really have it together. I don't know many 19 year olds with such strong convictions and self awareness. Kuddos to you Idzie.

Lisa Z said...

Wonderful interview! Thanks for helping me stay inspired to keep unschooling my son, age 13. I share many of Idzie's ways of looking at life. Yay!

rfs said...

Hi Idzie, thanks back to you. You are an inspiration.

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