A writer’s dilemma

I spent the last two weeks having an awesome time with my mom and brother who visited from the East coast. Now that they have headed back home, I’m working on finishing up a piece I’m writing about unschooling for a local mag.

And can I say that most of my supposed interviewees have flaked out on me and are totally lame?

After making inquiries, I had about seven people email me, saying they would be glad to talk with me about their experiences unschooling. This was in mid-July. My deadline is September 1. Only two of those contacts got back with me in a timely manner. Two.

August arrives. I send a reminder. No one responded. A few days ago, I sent another reminder to the one person whose info I really wanted to include because she is the coordinator of an annual unschooling conference. She got back to me immediately and apologized for the delay. The others?

Nada.

I worked at a newspaper for several years as a general assignment reporter, so I am no stranger to non-responders. But usually, people don’t want to be bothered because the story is about some controversial topic they don’t want to talk about. But this story is about my exploration of unschooling, because I am interested in doing it myself. I am not trying to bash or make judgements about it. Perhaps they think this is the case? Okay, I can accept that. Then why did you agree to an interview? And if you changed your mind, just say, “I don’t want to talk to you now”. Why the busted, passive, communication?

*Sigh*

So, for the rest of these people, I will just take the hint and assume they don’t want to talk.

But it certainly irks me to no end. Grrr.

Book Discussion Pt. 2: The Neverending Story

During the first half of The Neverending Story, the reader is given a peek into Bastian’s life as his thoughts sometime wander while reading or he takes breaks. We find out that his mother died not long ago and his father emotionally neglects him. Teasing is a constant, not only by his peers, but some teachers as well. And at some point, Bastian was put back a grade.

Here, Bastian recalls his time in the classroom:

“The clock in the belfry struck ten. Bastian was amazed at how quickly the time has passed. In class, every hour seemed to drag on for an eternity. Down below, they would be having history with Mr. Drone, a gangling, ordinarily ill-tempered man, who delighted in holding Bastian up to ridicule because he couldn’t remember the dates when certain battles had been fought or when someone or other had reigned.”

Most people would say that Bastian is not a very good student. He is a prime candidate for being labelled with some type of learning disability.

Yet, Bastian was an avid reader and loved making up stories.

He simply didn’t enjoy school.

But by reading, Bastian exercises his imagination, learns all the concepts of English, grammar and storytelling; plus the endless topics and subtopics that come up in whatever book he is reading at the moment.

Education doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with your nose in a workbook. Reading a novel, playing with plastic dinosaurs or romping around in your backyard isn’t slacking off; yet we’re taught that it is and that doing anything that you enjoy is not learning. We’re also taught that everyone must be forced to learn the same set of specific subjects, or they will not be a well-rounded person. Your personal interests mean nothing and you’ll never possess the motivation to learn anything.

I think Ende was trying to get the reader to think more on their assumptions about learning and education. These people would definitely agree that formal, mainstream education is not a guaranteed path to personal happiness or financial success. If you really get this, you’re one step ahead in the game.