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Dropping into your Life

roadmapMy 17 year old son Brady, the youngest of my kids, is leaving for Nepal in 6 days for a 3 month trek. All of his friends will be finishing up their last semester of High School, preparing for graduation and anxiously awaiting their acceptance letters from colleges they have applied too. Brady had something else in mind for his final year of high school.

After years of debating Brady about the merits of traditional education, the legitimacy of homework (although frankly, we don’t believe in homework) I finally opened my heart, my mind and practiced a bit of the Radical Faith I am always talking about, and said “yes” to Brady’s request to “drop out of school and drop into his life” (thank you Frankie for putting this so eloquently when you heard Brady had taken a different path).

Brady informed his guidance counselor that he would be leaving school at the end of the semester. He took the GED and the SAT’s and tested high on both. He is in good shape should he decide to pursue a traditional college education. Fat chance.

Since he dropped into his life and out of school, he seems happier than I have ever seen him. He is more interested and connected to his family and friends. He is more engaged in life and his natural curious nature has returned. What’s best though is that he is completely tapped into his own natural rhythm of learning. His appetite is ferocious. He is reading everything he can about Nepal, Katmandu, Buddhism, and the difference between being a tourist and a traveler. He is alive.

This is how I remember Brady as a small child in the field outside our home in Ludlow, where he would roam for hours, his head barely above the bramble, curious and interested in all that life had to offer him. He was reading by the time he was 3 and his verbal skills were off the charts. We had high hopes that school would hone his natural skills and provide new challenges and a stimulating experience. We were wrong.

School, over time, shut the door to his natural inclination to discover, to learn, to make sense of his surroundings and how to apply new information to his world. Over time, he lost interest. Over time he shut down.

It’s back now, the magic that made Brady – Brady.

The program he is enrolled in has a “Yak” board, where we parents can learn about the instructors and the other 12 kids embarking on this journey. One of the instructors, a Middlebury College Graduate, included a video that she said, explained exactly what this experience is meant to do.

I invite you to sit back, open your mind, and enjoy the 17 minute presentation that is sure to either support, challenge or inspire questions about our educational system and where your child fits into the mix.

7 Comments

  • Murray 11 months ago Reply

    All the best to Brady. I was invited to a wedding in Nepal 20 years ago. At first I did not really consider actually going, and then my soul struggled and was able to poke through to my brain and said “come on, what an adventure!”. I RSVPed my yes and was one of 4 people that actually made the journey. I loved it and that trip will stay with me forever.

  • Sue 10 months ago Reply

    Vicki – this brought tears to my eyes. What a fantastic thing for Brady to be in love with living and his place in his life!

  • Michelle 10 months ago Reply

    Vicki!

    Your family is such an inspiration! I loved that video and look forward to one day seeing a change in our education system, I just hope some of it happens in time for my children to participate in it…. We really struggle with traditional education standards.

    Thanks for everything you offer!

    Michelle

  • Jen 10 months ago Reply

    Hooray, Brady! Hooray, Vicki! The road less traveled can be difficult to take when most of our culture is doing the same thing, the expected thing – whether it be schooling or other. As for the school experience that Brady had, as a former public school teacher, I have personally watched that light go out in smart, curious, and capable kids and it is heartbreaking! I can’t imagine watching it in my own child! Good for you, Vicki, for trusting your son enough to know that he would find HIS way of learning what HEwants to know in HIS life!

  • Cindy Pierce 10 months ago Reply

    Your family stories always remind me to get ready for my kids to find a different path than the expected ones. Brady is a hot ticket. Bold and in his life. May we ALL learn from that.

  • JenniferNault 10 months ago Reply

    Thanks for all the comments. I am so happy to share this story with you.

    As a mom, I know how much courage it takes to parent in unique and individual ways. And I know that the feedback we can get from well meaning family members, friends, and teachers can be harsh and critical. I want to encourage every parent out there, to trust the voice, deep in your belly, that says – “Hey! Listen up. YOU are the best parent for this kid. No one else. Listen to what this child is telling you and then follow your gut. If you get it wrong, you can always change course.”

    So trust yourself, and trust your kids. Make time to talk and to dive into conversations that might not have easy answers. Have fun with your parenting and know that we are here, to support, encourage and share what we know about parenting our kids in the 21st century for anyone looking to raise independent, thinking kids.

  • Libby 10 months ago Reply

    Thanks for sharing your real-life leap of Radical Faith as a parent to allow your son to discover his own path. It gives me hope. The video was very enlightening and rings true to our own experiences. It’s one thing to know that each person’s path is unique, but it’s another thing altogether to allow (better yet, celebrate!) your own child’s choice to go down a different path.

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