Where is This “Real World” You Speak of?

I was struck today, while reading Idzie’s sister’s reply to some unschool doubters, about this idea of a real world. You hear about it everywhere when people talk about schooled children. “When he gets into the ‘real world’ he’ll have the skills to…” or, in the case of unschooling, “I just don’t see how they will be ready for the ‘real world.’”

What in the hell is a ‘real world’? Has anyone who uses this phrase really thought about it? Does that imply that kids live in a fake world? Are they not experiencing reality?

Then, I realized where it comes from. The inside of a school building is anything but ‘real.’ School does not emulate life. In no way does it prepare a student for what adulthood is. First, as adults, we choose our jobs, our spouses, our living place, our insurance, everything. We choose. In school, everything is chosen for you. As adults, we have to be self-sufficient learners. If we need to know something for work, we have to go find it and learn it ourselves. In schools, everything is shoveled in. Teachers pour their knowledge into you. In some ways, this is luxurious. But mainly, it is completely different from the ‘real world.’ And so, in our society, we have subconsciously realized the falsehood of schooled life and therefore label post-school as ‘real.’

You know what most people mean when they say that school (a fake world) prepares a child for adulthood (the real world)? They mean that you have to be on time and that you have to turn in work on deadlines. Whoop-tedoo.  In fact, many people think unschoolers will never learn these skills. Because if you’re not in school, why would you be on time to anything? Why would you ever need self-discipline?

But, here’s the crux of the matter. Schooled children live in a fake world that supposedly prepares them for the real one, even though in most cases it fails miserably. Unschoolers don’t need to be prepared for the real world because they never live outside of it. The real world is their permanent residence and they are often better at surviving and thriving in it than their schooled peers.

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10 Comments on "Where is This “Real World” You Speak of?"

  1. Debs
    01/11/2009 at 2:17 am Permalink

    Well said! I always say we are born into the real world, and then some (most) of us are *removed* from the real world to attend school. To us it’s obvious that school is not the real world, but that lie is an easy thing for any society to instill into schooled people. The German Government has used the argument that school reflects society to keep up its ban on home education. The argument goes that because school reflects society, in all its diversity (apparently), there is no need for home education. The Swedish Government is currently attempting to use the same logic on its population. It’s just a handy lie to use to control people.

    And, yes, it’s just insulting that some people seem to think unschooled people never have to get up in time to get anywhere, but that goes back to the myth that unschoolers don’t *do* anything all day and just loaf around at home their entire lives.

    Anyway, sorry, I’m wittering on – I’m Debs and I really like your blog! 🙂

  2. Cheryl
    01/11/2009 at 9:33 am Permalink

    Amen. The definition of “real world” seems to be whatever suites someone’s purpose when they need to feel superior. Unschoolers aren’t living in the real world because they aren’t in school, but school kids aren’t living in the real world because they haven’t gotten out of school. As you say, it makes no sense. I look forward to reading more here!

  3. admin
    01/11/2009 at 11:29 am Permalink

    @Cheryl & Debs
    So glad you found me. I will be checking out your blogs today. I love finding more and more wonderful, intelligent and well-spoken people in this great unschooling community. As you can see, this blog is relatively new, so I’m just dipping my toe into the giant pool of unschooling. But, I hope to make a splash soon enough! 🙂


  4. Evelyn Saenz
    02/11/2009 at 3:39 am Permalink

    What a relief it is to take your child out of school and bring them back into the real world. Time to live life again!

  5. sebrina
    02/11/2009 at 8:58 am Permalink

    Love your blog!! I have 4 children, I have unschooled them their whole lives but this year my two middle children wanted to try out school. I am not happy with what I am seeing and I am getting myself stoked up to pull them out! Reading blogs like yours gives me the courage!!

  6. Idzie
    02/11/2009 at 12:51 pm Permalink

    Great post! The “real world” thing has always exasperated me…

  7. Derrick Langeneckert
    04/11/2009 at 2:31 am Permalink

    School only teaches you how to be a better learner.


  1. uberVU - social comments 02/11/2009 at 3:42 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post... This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cassi Clausen: Unschoolers live in the…

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cassi Clausen. Cassi Clausen said: Unschoolers live in the real world. http://bit.ly/xnBCf…

  3. [...] gives us Real World at Unschooling Ruminations. She writes that this post “answers the question about why I [...]

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