Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Guerrilla What?

A few thoughts for you, Hunter.

The "stick it out or you'll never get a job" argument is absolutely true

But that begs the question: do you want a "job"? 

I don't. 

If I ever need to provide for my family, I'll start a business (my husband currently provides while I homeschool & man the fort for our children). I'm getting a cracking-good education for it every day. lol (Maybe a RentAGreenBox.com deal, or something else eco-awesome.) 

You have so many options before you. Apprentice. Learn things the old fashioned way. Learn the modern way (YouTube, anyone? ;o), and do something amazing. From your opening post (clear and articulate, good spelling, grammar & punctuation), you've got a good basic education already. (But keep learning!) Anything else you've missed can be filled in with www.KhanAcademy.org.  (<3 that site.)

First and foremost: Read Seth Godin. (1st for a reason.) Blog, Domino Project, and most importantly his education manifesto: Stop Stealing Dreams. Seth has, and uses constantly, one of the best minds of our day.

Then there are books for exactly what you're wanting to do:

Amazon can lead you to lots more, complete with reviews to add to your perspective. Some reviews will stand out as reasonable and good--and you can learn to spot the whiney reviews and in-the-box-thinkers pretty quickly.

You might be able to transition gradually. See if your HS has a “work experience” program where you can go part time school and part time work. Parents might dislike that less. ;o) You’re butting up against generations of tradition here--it’s not going to be easy to bring them around if they don’t like the idea of what you’re doing.  You’ll need to re-educate them, and help them to see that what you’re choosing is going to make a good life for you, not ruin it. Find blog posts about people who are making their way on their own (organic local farmers, handmade goods, writers that sell through the Kindle store, etc).  
I’m sure there’s a book out there about them, too.  I know of two attorneys that have abandoned law to make a living in ultra-running (one in running, the other in reporting it).  Everywhere you look (especially when you leave the mainstream and start looking in all of the wonder that is the wide, wide world), you'll find people who are making lives for themselves outside of corporate America--and it's a joyful, fulfilling, sweaty-faced, worn-out-at-the-end-of-the-day-for-something-worthwhile kind of thing.

One of my favorite things right now is NextWorldTV. Bibi searches out all kinds of really cool stuff on YouTube and sends out a video a day. When I want to be inspired, energized, to feel like the world is going to be a better place in a generation, I go watch a few of those. ;o) Towns that are entirely energy independent, fascinating stories of grassroots innovation and collaboration, and just generally fun and hopeful ecological things.

Oh, and here's another good book about choice and the modern market: We Are All WeirdEducate yourself, first, about what you want to do. Educate your parents second. And then work together. This will be SO much better for everyone if you can all come to an understanding. Showing them Ken Robinson's talk might not help much (at least at first ;o), but showing them success stories of people who have taken the path you want might. Maybe taking a summer to get serious about your own education (a la Leadership Education) could really help them see you're serious. In this generation of helicopter/drill sergeant/whatever parenting, sometimes there are all kinds of pitfalls to negotiate before children and parents can really work together. (I'm a parent, and trying to NOT be any of those.) The problem is, parents are hard-wired to see obedience as a sign of love. The trick is to make them feel super-duper-loved-and-appreciated-and-important even though you might be bucking everything they've ever dreamed for you.

Worst-case, knock yourself out the rest of this year in your classes. (So there's no chance of holding out bad grades as evidence that you need to stay in school.) Then, dive into the summer head-first, spending time every day learning about life outside of high school, and things that you've always wanted to learn. Show your detractors what you can do on your own, and use your time for all it's worth.

One last piece of advice: stay humble. Remember that while intelligent and motivated, you still have a tremendous amount of life to experience. Be the first to admit that; but remember that losing a year isn't going to hurt anything at all. Most college students now don't "finish" until they're in their 30's . . . (my age!) Many of them don't even move out until then. (Yikes.) So you could pitch it as "If I lose a year or two on this experiment, what's it going to hurt? I'd rather experiment now, instead of when I'm 28 and wanting to get on with my life."

Trust in good ethics, integrity, kindness, and community. There will always be nay-sayers and critics--and you should be skeptical of them. Hear what they say, but be uber-cautious about giving them any weight of authority. Make a life for yourself that will make the world a better place--and always admit openly that you don’t know everything. But you do know, now, that this feels strongly like the right choice for you.

Speaking through about twenty years’ experience between you and I (and I can't believe I can say that--I don't FEEL that much older) . . . I wish I had had even the faintest idea that skipping HS was possible. But the stigma in my small, rural town, was all anyone could see--including me. There wasn't a bigger picture to find then, and there. I would have had a MUCH better life, had I been able to learn on my own, self-directed and focused. I looked forward to college eagerly for that very reason, and ate it up hungrily when I got there. Then again, twenty years ago the internet just wasn't what it is now. I mostly surfed for sound bytes to customize my email program, and chatted with friends back in the dark days of social media, when BBS's and AOL were the names of the game. ;o) Now we have TED.com, KhanAcademy.org, innumerable blogs and youtube videos, ad infinitum.

You've got the world, and the WWW, before you. Now, go learn! (Whether you do so partly in a school or not.) 

Best luck!

(This post is a response to Hunter's conversation at TED.com, sparked by Sir Ken Robinson's magnificent talk. Fwiw, I was astounded at the number of stuck-in-the-box thinkers that responded to his earnest question . . . especially as TED.com specializes in progressive, innovative, truly life-changing speakers and topics.)

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