We Learn and See Reality When We’re Ready

Fro me the Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan in Autumn 2009 starts tomorrow when I fly to LA! But, I wanted to finish up this Lies My Teacher Told Me thread I started on Columbus Day and talk about how we only learn certain truths and see certain aspects of reality when we’re ready.

The things I learned in Lies My Teacher Told Me, other resources, and certainly my own experience in school all inspired me to leave school and start unschooling at age 15.

I was so upset I had been lied to by school, the mass media, and also I felt by my parents and other adults. Maybe the most upsetting part for me was how some trusted adults already knew this stuff and just didn’t tell me.

I didn’t understand how there could be progress if we didn’t pass on what we have actually learned to our children. And I really do encourage parents and other adults to share their wisdom and experiences and expose kids to reality.

At the same time, I want to acknowledge some of this does involve the mystery of people just being ready for certain things at different times.

Now I don’t really feel so upset at my parents and others for not sharing the truth with me. Now I realize it is more complex.

This is not to say I don’t still encourage people to share the truth. Absolutely, yes! But certain truths are going to affect different people differently at different times.

I really tried to share the information I was learning about the world, school especially, with my fellow students. For the most part they simply weren’t as interested. Certainly they weren’t as affected as I was: they didn’t immediately decide to leave school to homeschool as I did.

Why is that? Why was it different for them?

There are so many reasons that could help explain it. I was angrier. I was more discontent.

I have always been a relentless questioner since I was a little kid. If I didn’t understand the answer I would keep on asking until I did. I wanted to understand and I wanted to know the truth.

I insisted on being engaged in something that made sense to me: something where I could see a purpose. Life was too damn exciting to do otherwise. There was too much to learn and do to waste my time on something pointless.

Still, maybe being exposed to the exact same things I was at the age of 15 might not have had the same effect on me a couple years earlier. Maybe I discovered that information when I did because I was ready for it.

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.

Still you can’t force someone to care. I just think, for better or for worse, we simply can’t force others to see or learn certain things, maybe anything. They’ll “get it”, they’ll make the connections and it will have meaning to them, in their own time. And it’s quite possible we’re wrong about certain things so all the more reason not to force it on others.

What we can do is give people opportunities to learn. We can give ideas, books, situations, or experiences, if people are at all open to them. People can then make their own connections from the wide array of information coming at them. At the same time some things are very difficult to miss in certain instances.

Still some people won’t want or be ready to understand or acknowledge certain things. Then it still doesn’t help to force it.

But some things need to be looked at and need to be addressed. That’s reality. So while not everyone will be ready to take on certain issues, people need to at least know the issues that need to be taken on.

That’s what I was really upset about with my parents: I felt like progress was lost when they didn’t share certain things with me. But the truth is my parents and their generation have passed on a huge amount of progress to me and my generation.

I wish they had done more and passed on more positive things and less crap: I can’t deny that! But I also can’t deny how much gratitude they deserve for all the wonderful progress, even, or especially on the level of emotional and spiritual healing.

I want to end with a story that might wrap up all I’ve been talking about:

When I was about 11, my big brother got the album Smash by The Offspring. I heard people talk about how cool the album was so I tried listening to it myself but didn’t get what the big deal was.

I listened to is again when I was 13, just two short years later, and it became one of my favorite albums. Nearly every word, in every song had so much meaning to me.

These lines from the song, “Something to Believe In” especially:

Do you accept what you are told
Without even thinking?
Throw it all and make your own
And give me something
Something to believe in

I love it. That’s part of the wonderful spirit of young adults: anger and an uncompromising desire to get rid of all the stuff that doesn’t work and find something to actually believe in.

The trick to becoming a real adult may be keeping that fiery spirit while tempering  and adding to it with real experiences of your own and others.

Then we could really build some things that actually work: build something to believe in.

7 Responses to “We Learn and See Reality When We’re Ready”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eli Gerzon, Eli Gerzon. Eli Gerzon said: New post: We learn & see reality when we're ready: #unschooling (wrap up Lies My Teacher Told Me thread b4 tour!) […]

  2. Cheryl says:

    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 already I realize now.”

    One thing that bothers me 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.

    Two is the 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.

    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 one’s own, in one’s own way and own time, and then to figure out what one is ready and able to do about it (if anything).

  3. […] Unschooling | The following was written in response to the latest posts by 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 […]

  4. Eli Gerzon says:

    Hi Cheryl, thanks so much for posting this comment and the same thing on your own blog in response to this post.

    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,

  5. Eli Gerzon says:

    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.

  6. I am glad to see this trend towards more freedom for pupils (or students) grow. It’s been a lifelong struggle for me and now I am figuring out where I am in society.

  7. Dave Johnson says:

    I’m a new unschooling Dad, having the usual doubts and fears. I can’t express enough how encouraging it is for me to find people who left school at your age and have become productive, fulfilled individuals. Thanks for sharing.


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