Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Unschooling and Unjobbing

Yesterday I wrote about how I hired Steve Biggs, a Toronto writer, horticulturalist and gardening coach, to help me maximize the vegetable-growing potential of  my postage-stamp backyard.

As inevitably happens when an adult notics that my school-age children are at home in the middle of the morning, Steve asked me if they were in school.  I said "No.  We live and learn together all day."  He said, "You homeschool?"  I said, "No, we Unschool."  I'm not sure what he thought of that answer.

At the end of our session I asked him if he was able to do this work full-time.  He replied that he was, in fact, home full-time with his three children (only one of whom is old enough for school) but that he has a babysitter two mornings per week so that he can do home visits.

I said, "Oh, you're an unjobber.  Just like we're unschoolers."

I love that word:  UNJOBBER.  I didn't invent it, although I wish I had.  I've seen UNJOBBING defined as pulling all areas of your life into alignment with your personal values and living more simply and consciously.

I would define UNJOBBING as requiring two elements:
  1. Being able to think outside the predefined idea of a 9-to-5 work day and a 40 hour work week.
  2. Making money doing what you love to do anyway.
It's interesting how many people have asked us about how we can keep unschooling if our kids want to go to university someday.  I mention that because the question is based on two incorrect assumptions.  First, that you have to graduate from highschool in order to attend university, which is not true.  Second, that the only definition of success is to obtain a degree and use it to make a high level of income. 

Well, that's not my definition of success.  Partner-Guy and I agree that the greatest success we wish for our children is that they will discover what they love to do, find a way to make money doing it, and be content in a lifestyle that they can afford based on following their passions.  We admit freely that neither of us have managed to achieve success on those terms.  When I was an elementary school teacher, I did not love teaching although I did love being a teacher.  (I was great at planning and organizing and doing paperwork, but being with the students actually got in the way of the parts of the job I really enjoyed!)  Partner-Guy goes to work everyday only out of his sense of duty to provide for us at the lifestyle we have become accustomed to.  If we could see fit to adjust to a different lifestyle (read: poorer) he could quit his job and become an UNJOBBER, doing something he actually enjoys.

What really appeals to me about unschooling our children is the way that it leads directly into unjobbing.  People who have been through the public education system are processed to become 9-to-5ers.  From the age of 4, public schoolers are trained to be subservient to a boss.  It's a wonder any of them go on to become entrepreneurs and small business owners.  By contrast, unschooled children will have a life of continuity:  having followed their passions as children they will continue to do so as adults.  There is no graduation day where suddenly they are adults and they have to find a job and earn an income.  They are free to pursue their dreams from the day they are born. 

Degrees don't mean much if you hate your job.  I have dreams of unjobbing in a way that has nothing to do with the three degrees I obtained.  And maybe Partner-Guy will get to follow his dreams too.  It's not too late!

What would you do if you could follow your passion and make money doing it?