Even though I plan on going to school for journalism and would love some day to have a PhD in something(perhaps holistic nutritional application through journalism – yeah I made that up, it’s what I do), I am a huge advocate of teaching yourself. Following what interests you might have and figuring out how to become the very best you can at it. If you want.
I’ve been reading The Organic Sister for awhile and she is an advocate for unschooling – adademically, body, and whole life. You don’t need a classroom to learn. In fact, a classroom might not give you anything useful for how you want to live your life. For further well written explanations of unschooling, whole life and more, check out these posts: Whole Life Unschooling: It’s For More Than Just Kids,I Am Not Broken, Body Compassion,The Uproar Over Unschooling. There is so much more, you’ll just have to scroll through her lovely site. If you don’t fall in love with her amazing photos I’ll be surprised.
It’s had me thinking, a lot. And you know, I only share a small amount of what I’m actually thinking about. Weekly, I mentally run through what is a burning passion of mine, burning enough that I have to get it out. This is important enough to post about. Teach yourself! What are you interested in? What is even just mildly amusing? What have you thought was the niftiest thing for a long time? You don’t have to wait to delve into the interest. You don’t have to take a class, there is a lot you can do thanks to the internet, friends, the library, and second hand shops.
A couple of my interests that I finally decided I could step forth and tackle: knitting and herbalism.
Harvest Yarn Knitting Project
A friend of mine taught me the basics of knitting a few months ago. I’ve made a small handful of things since then, a hat for a friend, two hats for me. I should really branch out and make something else. When we were on our vacation this summer we ran across an awesome yarn shop, Cr.eations – A yarn shop, where I bought some double pointed needles, yarn on sale, patterns and yarn for one pattern in particular. I just have to take that step and decode the pattern. It’s also important to me that I continue to practice my basic stitches so when it’s time to start that sweater it looks gorgeously uniform. So the current project is another hat, which I may or may not keep, I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. The amazing thing is that I followed a pattern and it didn’t look like the picture. I figured out why it was wrong! It was because I’m knitting my hat on round needles and I don’t turn around to do the next row. Knitting in the round involves going around and around for a long time. No switching needed. Only problem is that some patterns seem to be made for knitting something with sides. No worries though! I figured it out and made the needed changes to fix it. Now it looks like the pattern! The amazing thing is I didn’t have to take a class! Logic and a little bit of math(multiplication and division) were the only things I really needed to use. I am a friend and internet taught knitter!
Learning about herbalism has been on my mind for at least a year, which for me is a long time. Last year I found a class I want to take when I have money and time. Cedar Mountain Herb School offers internships for all seasons. But as my post about debt should have lead you to believe, I don’t have a lot of money, and this year I have no extra time for another class. So instead of feeling sorry for myself over something I can’t change, I decided to check the required reading for that class out of the library. I’m only just through the introduction of Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. But that’s okay, I’m excited. They are both reference books and when I feel I can justify spending money on them, they will be joining my library. Also, I’ll be checking in on Good Natured Earthling’s(she runs Cedar Mountain Herb School) Facebook page for suggestions, and random useful information.
See! No classroom needed. I’m not actually sure that the herbalism school has a typical classroom. Because of the nature of herbalism there is a lot of outside stuff, learning the whole process from harvesting to preserving in different forms and using them.
My life now reminds me a lot of what I had wanted to do when I was in school. If you don’t already know, I was home-schooled all through grade and middle school. I was enrolled in a “real” private school, but it was only slightly different from homeschooling. In the end I got my diploma after four years of doing what I actually wanted.
When in high-school, I had wanted soooo badly to pursue what I was interested in, drawing, writing, photography, books of all kinds. I wanted to be free of the boring requirements set by the school and the state. Meaning, less math and US history (note: there is nothing wrong with those subjects. I’m not greatly talented at math and I hated the fact that I had to take US history at least three different times. But if I remember correctly, that’s what the state required. *shakes fist*). Now the math I use is stuff to help me get done the fun things I want to do, knitting, crocheting, cooking, and taxes(bleh). Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom, at a public school that has old school books and over-worked teachers. It doesn’t have to be organized by an expert or come with a certification(unless it’s required by the state, i.e. massage therapy, but that makes sense). It’s just as legitimate to teach yourself to do something as it is to have a paid teacher instruct you. In fact, it can be a point of pride, of achievement if you answer a question with, “I taught myself”. It’s not shameful or embarrassing to teach yourself or to have a parent or friend teach you. Unfortunately, there are still people out there that still believe the best time of your life is spent in a boring classroom between the ages of 5 and 18. Prove them wrong, teach yourself, your children, your friends, your neighbors, or even the nay-sayers something fun and useful that you actually want to learn.