Originally written on tumblr, I cleaned this up and it’s now a post on Cooperative Catalyst.
I’ve been asked some variation on “are you going to college?” more times than I can count, and I don’t generally give a more elaborate answer than “no.” Occasionally, when pressed, I say that what I want to be doing (cooking!) doesn’t require a degree. Or that I’m doing more interesting things (to me) than going to school. But when I was asked that question online recently, I finally wrote a response that explains in more detail why I’m not going to university*, and that response has been re-worked into this post.
So, am I ever going to go to university?
I don’t like to say never, because lots of things change, but I definitely can’t see myself going to university full time or for a degree in the foreseeable future. I’m sort of vaguely considering just taking a class or two sometime in the next year, or maybe, possibly, going to culinary school at some point, but I haven’t really made any decisions on either of those possibilities yet.
Why don’t I want to go?
As for why I don’t plan on going to university fulltime, I have many reasons. A list of bullet-point reasons, even.
- There is nothing I want to be doing right now as a job or “career” or whatever that would require a degree, so the only reason (and this is a good reason to go to university for many people!) would be for pure enjoyment/learning purposes, which leads me to…
- I’m not very into more academic subjects, as a rule. Most of the things I enjoy doing tend to be really tactile and immediate. I like cooking and gardening and having one-on-one conversations. Sure, I like reading about feminism and social justice and radical education. Hell, a major focus of my life for a few years was reading and talking and writing about unschooling! But I sort of feel that what I really want and need to be doing in my life right now is just that: doing, not studying.
- I don’t enjoy learning-for-the-sake-of-learning (and having said that I swear I can almost hear a horrified gasp from lots of people in my unschooling community). For me to enjoy and take in information or learn a skill well, it has to feel genuinely important and relevant in my life and/or the lives of the people close to me, my community, etc. I’m very happily reading through a large book on fermentation (Sandor Ellix Katz is awesome) because I want to be fermenting more foods and beverages. I’m going to pick up a really awesome looking book (The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer) on wild edibles soon, because I want to be foraging a lot more with my sister come spring. Social justice issues, radical politics, and radical sustainability are important because I want to be a good person, act in as kind and non-oppressive a way as possible, live in a genuinely sustainable way, etc. University has always seemed to me to be so incredibly removed from the rest of the world, and I really don’t want that, or think that that removal is generally a healthy thing.
- I hate how inaccessible academia is. Both the price, though that is at least less of an issue where I am than many other places**, but also the very language and culture of universities and academia. Though I’ve seen and been bothered by this on multiple occasions, a specific instance that stands out to me was one time when I was at a talk, and this one dude just started bringing up objections and questions in the most ridiculously academic language you can imagine, and referencing books and authors I’d never heard of. As the conversation between the speaker (an academic herself) and the audience member continued, I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about. And I say this as someone who is generally read as well educated (by people unaware of my being an unschooler, since then of course folks start to think otherwise), a native English speaker, and someone usually considered skilled with words. It just hit me very profoundly that if this seemed inaccessible to me, how much more inaccessible is it to so very many other people? It just doesn’t sit right with me.
- Also, when I think of being in classrooms for some four years or more, I feel like I’d be trapped. I’m literally mildly horrified at the idea. It does not sound appealing at all.
There are more personal reasons, and there are far more nuanced critiques of the institution of university to be found out there. But from my perspective, those things are a very good overview of why I have no plans or desire to go to university.
Really, there are so many more interesting (to me) things I want to be doing right now in my life, things that are relevant and exciting and hands-on. No classrooms needed.
*I say university not “college” because here in Quebec, college (also known as CEGEP) is a between high school and university thing, and is not synonymous with university.
**In Quebec the average tuition per year is $2,519 (source: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/educ50f-eng.htm)
|—||Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men (via fuckyeahwritersquotesandwisdom)|
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a dark complexion and long, braided plaits, who used to wear many long and colorful skirts. The little girl wanted a doll, too. Fair-haired, red-haired, blue-eyed or Arabian dolls were on sale in the shop on the corner. They bore strange names like Barbie, Steffi, Ariel and Jasmine. The dolls had their own hairdresser’s, bikes, cars, baby pushchairs, and modern houses. They were doctors, models, princes or sirens. The little girl, whose name was Lulica and who lived in a shabby house, on the outskirts of the town, didn’t understand why none of the dolls in the shop window resembled her.
This may not be a real-life story, but the special doll, named Lulica, certainly is. It is an anti-discrimination doll, and was launched in Sibiu, central Romania, on the International Roma Day this year. Lulica is a doll who wears traditional clothes, specific to Roma women, has green eyes and long, plaited hair. The doll wears a red headscarf, decorated with gold coins. Dorin Cioaba, a leader of the Roma living in Sibiu, has told us about the idea of creating such a doll.
”We had the idea of creating this doll when we noticed the increasing demand for products specific to nomad and coppersmith Roma. I realized that we should promote our traditional Roma costumes, by launching a doll wearing such clothes. We’ve noticed that it was well received both by the Roma community, and by non-Roma kids. The doll bears my grandmother’s name, Lulica. She was a very beautiful woman, my grandfather took her away from her parents’ house without their consent, because they opposed their marriage.
There was a beautiful love story between Lulica and her husband, Baiculica. We thought that her unusual name would attract children. That is why we called the doll Lulica. Her features are specific to Roma women: it has long hair, traditional, plaited braids and golden coins sewn to her headscarf. We will soon launch another version of the doll, one with a traditional necklace made up of gold coins, called ‘salba’, and a textile bag, just like the Roma women used to wear. In time, we will create some more accessories for the doll, even a tent, which will serve as a sort of home, various elegant clothes, even a bride dress.”
The Roma who took part in the celebrations marking the World Roma Day threw wreaths of willow twigs in the waters of the Cibin River, to pay homage to those Roma killed during the Holocaust. This year marked the 41st anniversary of the first ceremony of this kind, which took place in London. Today, it is an opportunity to protest against discrimination of any kind. The peaceful protest took the shape of a doll. Dorin Cioaba has more on the Lulica doll and its launch.
”The first lot of 200 dolls has already been launched and now a much larger lot is under production. Roma women are sewing the costumes of the dolls almost around the clock, as we have never imagined that there will be such a high demand for dolls. So, we had to hire more dressmakers, from among the members of the Roma community. We are glad that we were able to offer them jobs: they sew many costumes, so that dolls may be available in all big shops, hypermarkets and specialized toy-shops. The doll was launched on April the 8th, the International Roma Day, and it was one of the highlights of our celebrations.
Many other cultural events were held on that day: Roma music concerts, dances and parties. All members of the community celebrated that day, in their own way. Those who like traditions best chose to spend the day within their community, others organized festivals in the countries they live in. However, the best way to celebrate was in the middle of the Roma community, because it is there that our interesting customs and traditions are best preserved.”
Why was it necessary to make an anti-discrimination doll? Here is Dorin Cioaba again:
”When I thought about launching this doll, I wanted Romanian children to have such a doll in their playroom, and make it easier for them to become friends with Roma children in real life. There is this fear instilled by mothers to their young children. They say: ‘if you do not behave yourself, the old gypsy woman will come, steal you and put you in her bag.’ Thus, children grow up with the idea that a woman wearing colorful clothes can only be evil. So in their teenage or adult life, they are reluctant to getting closer to such people.
This doll will be found in toy-shops and this can only be positive. Later in life, people will remember that they had such a doll when they were children, that there is a category of people in their country, which wear costumes just like the dolls they once had. This way, the new generations can build their relations with the Roma community on other principles. We will donate dolls to all kindergartens and daycare centers, because we want to promote our community, to show the young people who make up the majority that we have values and traditions, too, and to find ways to coexist harmoniously.”
Lulica, the doll wearing vivid colours, will become a friend for all children.