PROCESS POST: Paying Someone Else

What if the work you love to do is something that requires you to pay someone else like dance or horseback riding?

So what? Why does it matter? When you do your work by paying someone else, you’re depending on them to supply something(s).

Why should that matter? We’re interdependent.

The problem perhaps with paying someone is that it’s not DIY. What’s wrong with that? Think of a painter. If I pay the painter to repaint my front porch, then I’m not learning very much am I?

But that’s okay because I’m not interested in learning about painting.

What I’m talking about is creative work. Let’s consider Felicia Day. She loves video games. She has paid the companies lots of money to play their games. But that is not creative work. Then she went on to perform, write, and create stuff like The Guild series. Doing creative, autonomous work may come out of something you pay for or it may not.

So there’s a distinction to be made here. There is creative work-play that you do without paying anyone (DIY) and there is also work-play that you do when you pay a seller.

So what? What’s the difference? And why is this significant?

Independent Learners

I’m choosing to say Independent Learners now instead of homeschoolers, thanks to Sarah Huff at HEGA.

The definitions of “independent” capture much more precisely what I’ve been writing about in this blog.

Consider this quote in regard to the phrase Independent Leaner.

The remarkable feature of the evidence is that the biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers. (page 22)

Visible Learning, by John Hattie subtitled “A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement.”


Parachute and Element

Reading “What Color is Your Parachute for Teens” and “Finding Your Element,” I am struck by how essential these guides are for young people. I am in such awe at the value of this material. I believe that this is what young people need most in their lives: guides that help them figure out who they are, what their Element is, and discover how they can contribute value to the world. Every individual young person would benefit so much to have a coach to counsel them in this material starting at age ten or even younger.

This process of figuring out who you are and what your Element is, and what you deeply enjoy doing for work is a long process. It could take ten years or more. In fact, you never really end this process. At age 39, I am still making new discoveries and new explorations. The sooner a young person begins, the better–the more he or she benefits.

In our current world, the industrial model of schooling then work is no longer a fruitful path. What will pay off is to find out what makes you happy and find the work that is really like play. You may not earn income from being in your Element (and you may not want to), but having all this self-knowledge helps you acquire paid employment that would be a good match for your unique self.

Educating for Wisdom 2

You cannot transmit wisdom and insight to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.

–Thich Nhat Hanh, Planting Seeds

“Transmit” is the word that stands out for me here. We’re so enculturated to the transmission model in education.

Is it possible that the seed is already there for everything? I wonder if there is any need to transmit anything in schools. Maybe the teacher’s job is to make contact with the seeds, and to allow the seeds to grow.

The Work You Love

People think work happens after you graduate from college.

We have this cultural norm that work is separate from the school years.

Schools and universities benefit. The more people who leave this norm unexamined means more profit for them.

But why should work be separate from school? And when I say work, I’m talking about doing the work that you love to do, spending time creating or building or making or directing or organizing something.

My six-year-old told me today: “When you’re 12, you go to middle school.” He’s completely bought into that story-line and assumes that it must be true. He assumes there is no other avenue to explore.

Getting a degree means very little when everyone else has the same degree. It just makes you more like everyone else. You want that degree to acquire more security and comfort with a great job, but the way to get that great job is to stand out, and sticking your neck out isn’t comfortable or safe.

Recommended Reading: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield and Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin.


DIY Schooling

DIY Schooling is already happening, but it’s under the guise of homeschooling: outsourced classes for Independent Learners held at churches, community centers, or in the freelance-educators’ homes. Young people go to places where classes are being held for Independent Learners.

(See Learning Tribe and LEAD in Decatur, Georgia, and Metro Academic Studies in Atlanta, Georgia. There are many others too.)

Freelance-teachers are not in a school building. They’re saying “I’m teaching biology at this place on Tuesday and this other place on Thursday.”

This also solves the “problem” of “socialization” that some people fret over when they consider homeschooling. The young person is not at home–they are in gatherings with peers multiple days a week.

DIY Schooling takes advantage of this phenomenon and develops it in order to encourage autonomy. Why?

Visible Learning, by John Hattie is subtitled “A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement.” Here’s the kicker:

The remarkable feature of the evidence is that the biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers. (page 22)

So the more we encourage autonomy, the sooner the students become their own teachers, and you get the biggest impact on student learning.

When you are your own teacher, you’re always doing what’s important to you, not what someone else says is important. You’re creating your own curriculum. (This gets back to the original title of this blog: Pull Not Push education as described by Charles Leadbeater in his TED Talk. You pull to you the things that matter most–the people, media, or resources that are most relevant to your life, interests, or needs.)

Now this doesn’t mean you work in a vacuum, of course. You find communities of practitioners, or experts, or mentors to learn from. Independent Learners have always met regularly for shared classes or for just to play/socialize. When you teach yourself, you’re always listening and reading and talking to others. “School is connections.” (HT to @boadams1)

DIY School may be about acquiring knowledge and expertise and skills in order to land a desirable job, but that just fuels the world of division and hierarchy and status. This is a way to educate for wisdom. We need avenues of learning and ways to cultivate wisdom. This is one avenue.

Progressive businesses care about What can you do, and What have you already done. (Also very important: superior writing skills and exceptional “soft skills”–patience, empathy, compassion, genuine deep listening, communication, people skills).

But this isn’t even about getting a good job.

This is about becoming an integrated person who cares about the world, who cares about others, who is exploring how to make the world a better place.

I just came across this Alice Walker video on youtube. She says:

It’s so important to do work that you absolutely love. It’s the only way you really grow; is who you’re meant to be.



Massive Change

[R]ighteous indignation, this panic that someone is going to do it wrong, this dogma you feel that the world will go under if things don’t go your way, is actually a form of aggression.

This is true even if the belief is so-called good; for instance, the belief that we need to clean up pollution in the rivers. When we hold tightly to a certain way of seeing things, we’re poisoning ourselves, and it doesn’t bring any happiness to ourselves or to anyone else.

Our good views don’t produce good results because they’re coming from such panic, such aggression, and such determination to have it our way. And there is so much sense of an enemy.

All our beliefs are based on thoughts, and the energy of those thoughts make us emotional, even hysterical.

–Pema Chodron, How to Meditate (page 158)

Why did I post this quote? What does it have to do with education? So often, I find myself thinking that I know how things should be regarding schooling. I hold firm to my beliefs and I reiterate them to myself with this kind of panic, aggression, determination, and a sense of an enemy.  I feel that righteous indignation within me, and I realize that it’s a form of aggression, a form of violence.

So how did Gandhi, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, and Aung Sun Suu Kyi create such massive change and impact without a sense of an enemy? Without righteous indignation? Without aggression?