Life Under the Apple Tree

Thinking Out Loud

A Response To: “We Learn and See Reality When We Are Ready”

with 6 comments

The following was written in response to the latest posts by grown-unschooler Eli Gerzon in his Worldschooler blog.

Eli, as always I enjoy your posts, but I am bothered by two things in your last two. You say (in your previous post): “I may wish [my parents had] done more [to show me the reality of the world] but my mom did a hero’s share … I realize now.”

One thing that bothers me is this idea of entitlement – that someone else should have showed us reality when we were children, or “given” us access to it, so that we wouldn’t have had to do any of the work or discovery ourselves. The idea is that someone should have saved us from the pain of growth, and from the feelings of betrayal that come with the loss of innocence.

Two is the idea that there is only one reality to see and that we’ll each see it “when we’re ready.” As much as I’d sometimes like for everyone to see the “reality” that I see, each of us is coming from completely different view points and seeing the world based on completely different experiences. There are as many separate realities as there are people on the planet.

The loss of innocence is really a human right of passage that we all must go through on some level as we grow and mature. The longing for safety — which causes us all to put blinders over our eyes at times — is also a natural human reaction to the world. It can be downright scary to “see reality” and some people, for their own personal reasons, are just never ready to face it. We can’t make them be ready. And we should never force a child to see anything that they might not be ready to comprehend.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Isn’t this exactly what school is? Someone giving us their version of reality “for our own good”? The only true road to freedom is to do the work on our own, and not to accept anyone else’s version of reality as our own. That’s what unschooling is all about — not being “schooled” by anyone else, but being free to discover reality on our own, in our own way and our time, and then to figure out what we are ready and able to do about it (if anything).

Some people don’t have any desire to change the world, or to affect the realities of others “for their own good,” and it is always anyone’s right to make that choice. Personally, I’m always torn: What right do I have to insist that anyone else (including my children) see my version of reality? At what point does wanting to “change the world” cross the line into wanting to change others, and into “paving the road to hell with good intentions”?


Written by cherapple

31 October, 2009 at 10:23 am

6 Responses

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  1. Hi Cheryl, thanks so much for writing this post in response to mine and for writing the comment on my blog.

    I’m sure others have some of the same objections you’ve raised… actually in some ways I do too!

    I’m actually meeting the first of the six homeschoolers on my trip in half an hour so I can’t give a full reply now!

    But I think you’re absolutely right that there is inherent pain involved in growth. And ultimately we definitely have to do it ourselves.

    Some of what I was expressing was just how I FELT not what I think the actual reality was. As I said in this post:

    “And certainly even if I my parents had shared more, a lot of the information would have been shocking and angering anyway. Maybe some information should be shocking and angering on some level, no matter what.”

    But for now I can’t write more than that. I will try to write as much as I can while on the tour but the travelers themselves and the tour itself will of course have to be the priority!

    Thanks again,

    Eli Gerzon

    31 October, 2009 at 11:13 am

  2. The only other thing I’ll add is that I totally agree it’s not about forcing your version of reality on to others. My thing is about exposing people to reality and they will get whatever they get out of it.

    That’s exactly what travel is about for me: you’re exposed to so much new information and yes, reality. You take from it what you take from it.

    The only thing we can do is share our own stories while making clear that doesn’t mean it’ll be there same experience. People are smart. When they hear stories they can draw from them and compare them to other stories to make their own picture.

    My point is the need for them to hear and see diverse stories. And living in the U.S. that can take some special effort to hear and see real diversity.

    I’m just encouraging people if they can to make that special effort.

    Eli Gerzon

    31 October, 2009 at 11:22 am

  3. Excellent post and discussion.

    I personality have a problem with the notion of “reality,” since each person perceives life differently, therefore each person travels a unique journey. Distant travel can expand the ones frame of experience, but so can sitting on your ass or going to the grocery store. How can a “parent” show? There are degrees and those degrees seem to require a ton of self-awareness and deep respect for the personality of the child. I believe people experience what they are ready to experience. So, the theory of diverse stories is great theoretically, but in practice it often fails. There are a lot of painful stories in our society, because there a lot of pain in us as people. But only we, the teller of our own story, can choose to tell a different story… with our lives.

    I frequently feel that it’s not enough to live the life I need to live. Then, I realize that’s hogwash! I’m reminded of a quote by John Campbell:

    “We have not even to risk the adventure alone,
    For the heroes of all time have gone before us,
    The labyrinth is thoroughly known.
    We have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
    Where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god;
    Where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves;
    Where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the
    Centre of our own existence;
    Where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”


    4 November, 2009 at 12:49 am

  4. I believe that reality is one and not only in the sense that our expressions are picked up by the other as impressions, but that we are deeply related, particularly with our significant other. Our minds are ‘ready’ or not, depending on our generation, to be what Kant called, either analytically or synthetically inclined. Synthetically is what we are talking about here, i.e. unschooling. Literally it is to be understood as ‘accidentally’ as opposed to logically necessary (as in narratives and analysis). A synthetic minds brings with it a very particular life. It is hard (but not impossible) to commit because ‘wherever we lay our head is our home’ (from the ‘papa was a rolling stone’ theme). I think there is a whole philosophy that goes with it, as Kant initiated it and was expanded particularly by Bergson. Postmodernism raped it inside out and outside in (thank your, Habermas, NOT) but now, thank heavens, that is over and we do not need to socially construct or deconstruct everything any longer, for society is out of the hands of a cultural elite at last.

    Ron C. de Weijze

    8 November, 2009 at 7:18 pm

  5. I’ve been continuing to think about this. Maybe there is only one reality, but we each come at it from different angles. Each person illuminates a different part of it, at different stages of their life even, and no one person can see the whole thing. No one owns reality, or can obtain a patent on it, or has the right to demand that we submit to their version.

    Carman, it does take an enormous amount of self-awareness in order to respect others views, as well as to respect our selves. At the very least, I hope to instill this attempt at awareness in my children.

    Ron, I’ve been trying to figure out what to make of your comment. It’s been about 20 years since I studied Kant and philosophy. I wish society were out of the hands of the cultural elite. It is so only when we decide that our own reality is more important to our lives than the one that is hand-fed us.


    13 November, 2009 at 8:25 am

    • Cheryl, if reality is one to all of us, and we only have different intuitions about it, then we cannot retreat to ‘our own reality’. To become equal owners of it too, again, imho we need to stop dependent confirmation and take up independent confirmation of our own, not the other’s intuition. Even when it is hard to be independent, especially if you want a life as most of us seem to have.

      (Sorry if this is posted twice, but it just seems to vanish in thin air after I click ‘Submit Comment’.)

      Ron C. de Weijze

      13 November, 2009 at 11:07 am

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