Hello again. If you’re just joining us, this is an update on what’s happening with the Zed Omegas, a group of teens who have “dropped out loud” from high school. How has the advice they’ve been getting affecting their decision?
Traditional arguments have found themselves on an uphill road. Art’s advice to “always try to finish what you start” has led to a conversation chain that may exemplify the generational differences. Kathy’s assertion that the slog through school is just “part of the deal” is questioned by Jeremy and the deal itself is flatly rejected by Lizzie and called outdated by Clare. Kathryn’s analysis of the benefits of Boredom High – that schools are 28.6% effective! – didn’t impress Clare one bit. And Lizzie found it easy to breeze past some cautionary advice from T.
The traditional arguments run into trouble because they rely on goes-without-saying assumptions such as diploma = job and high school = best way to get a diploma. These assumptions seem to look to the past rather than the future. Nora, the homeschooled Zed Omega, even found this: top universities no longer value the time applicants spent in school.
The traditional argument advocates also assume that national statistics are more relevant to a Zed Omega than his or her own beliefs. One glance at Lizzie’s Tumblr, for example, should be a clue that the chestnut of money = happiness will fall on very rocky soil!
Notable by its absence: no one claims that high school = relevant learning. No one refutes the Zed Omegas when they say they were gaining very little useful knowledge in school. It seems to be understood that relevant learning isn’t the point, especially of 21st-century skills.
Which isn’t to say that those making traditional arguments aren’t having any effect on the Zed Omegas. Clare, Lizzie, Nicole and Jeremy seem unswayed but the effect on Edwina and Xavier has yet to play out. Edwina has tried to get a job sans diploma, unhappily so. Xavier feels his school prevented him from being able to graduate. How these two feel about Art’s and Kathy’s and Kathryn’s weighty admonitions we have yet to see.
If you want to know what has rocked the Zed Omega world, it’s these ideas: unschool unschooler unschooling. Those concepts, and the stories of people who are unschooling themselves, have rekindled a hope that the Zed Omegas can reconnect with learning. That’s the subject of our next Zed Omega Report.
Last thing: you should read this letter from Luci. One-third personal story, one-third parental guidance, and three-thirds wisdom about getting educated today, it’s a gem.
More conversations soon…
– Alan Greye and Zephyr Yilmaz, EZO fans