The following is an encore performance THIRTEEN YEARS LATER from the July/August 1997 “News Watch” column by Linda Dobson that appeared in Home Education Magazine.
Schoolaholics Anonymous: How to Overcome Your Addiction to School
By William Upski Wimsatt in The New Haven Advocate (CT), March 6, 1997
Where do I begin? All through this article I was thinking, “yeah, Yeah, YEAH!” I walked away hoping Wimsatt can start an “Unalumni Association so that successful people who quite school (like Liz Claiborne, Whoopi Goldberg, and Joseph LeMandt – the youngest person on the Fortune 500) can give ‘unscholarships’ to low-income families whose children want to take responsibility for their own children.”
I also hope his “sociology experiment” catches on with teens everywhere. He advises all to politely ask teachers (and all adults, for that matter), “If school is so important, can you name one thing you learned in school that you couldn’t have learned on your own?” And if, by chance, they do come up with an answer; “Why couldn’t they learn it on their own? Weren’t they resourceful enough? Did they have problems with self motivation?”
The irreverence continues through the entire article, on I know I’d never find in our local paper! Wimsatt compares school to a drug; too much of which “can cause damaging side effects, including passivity, dullness, emotional dependency, rebelliousness, anti-social behavior, mood swings, impaired judgment, self-hatred and dislike of learning,” among others.
The most interesting part of the article has to be the twenty-something author’s grasp of the unschooling life now that he’s dropped out of college and has posed his own questions and designed his own curriculum. I’ll let Wimsatt’s words speak for themselves.
“Here is my question: How can I commit the most good and the least evil in my lifetime?
“Here is my curriculum: Live in a different place every year; DC, Oakland, a farm and probably New Orleans. Every Sunday, attend a different place of worship. Every day, get to know someone new (volunteer, attend lectures, talk to strangers on the street). Seek out hundreds of role models and mentors. The rest of the time, go to the library, read whatever I want – plus the critiques so I don’t become a crackpot – take notes and make charts. Create my own personal bible, almanac and telephone book.
“For discipline, live in high-crime neighborhoods. That ought to keep a gun to my head. Save up enough to travel to a different continent each year; otherwise, work as little as possible. Do that for five years. That will be my freshman survey course. Then I’ll have a better idea of what to do as a sophomore.”
Sounds like my retirement plans.