My 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.