What should alternative education be about?

I’m a big proponent to alternatives in education. I believe mostly in the variety of approaches to unschooling, because it’s an overarching philosophy that can decline into as many variants as we can imagine.

Not everyone believes in the same thing, though, and an argument with a family member a few weeks back made me think of my ideas from a different perspective.

The argument started when I talked about feeling well-adjusted within our bodies, our minds and the surrounding culture. She got upset at me, throwing how me spending an hour sobbing in my room a few nights before wasn’t being well-adjusted.

In fact, it is. I gave myself the space to experience deep, dark and very powerful emotions I couldn’t otherwise cope with than by crying for an hour. I freed myself from those feelings by letting them out through my tears.

But the current western (I’m generalizing here, sorry) culture doesn’t allow for strong or deep emotions. The communities I’m currently a part of go against the grain and encourage any and everyone to express whatever degree of emotion they’re comfortable sharing.

“Well, that’s a cult!” was what my family-member said in response to that. I looked at her, a bit aggravated, and thoughtlessly said, “so what’s the rest of society doing, if not living in a cult? Everyone is expected to conform, or be marginalized.”

She answered, “Yeah, but there are more people. It’s the rest of the world!”

She’s right. But the rest of the world isn’t really creating a healthy space for marginals or “different” people to fit in.

The public educational system valorizes extroverts who have an academic mind. Not everyone fits into that mold, and unfortunately, students product of public education are devalorized because the cult of western society doesn’t allow space for the introverts and manual workers to have value.

But… aren’t they crucial for the world to continue?

We’re not fed on thought, or on academic research, or even on writing. We’re fed with the food that’s grown, the cattle that’s raised.

We’re not housed by math, but instead by the walls erected by physical labour in collaboration to applied math and physics.

Not all people who yell the loudest have the most interesting things to say, yet the quiet people are often overlooked, or not given the space to express themselves in their own way.

Extroverts and intellectuals are important, don’t misunderstand me. But so are the introverts and manual-workers.

Alternative education should become the vehicle to let children and adults alike become the person they’re comfortable and happy to be while being respected no matter who that is. Being the most successful, the richest or the most popular shouldn’t matter in the face of being happy.

School should be a place that allows you to be happy.

When I was five years old, my Mom told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life. ~Anonymous