Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Labels - Goths and Emos and Unschoolers and School-at-homers...

Thoughts tonight in response to an e mail thread on the A2Z Yahoo! Group:

Goths and Emos and Unschoolers and School-at-homers...

This thread reminds me of the many times I asked or saw others ask "What is the difference between 'unschooling' and 'homeschooling'" which reminded me of a question my daughter asked the other day. With her fingernails and toenails painted black she asked, "What's the difference between GOTH and EMO?" "'Emo' and 'Goth' aren't they both freaks?" was my first reaction. I bet when anti-homeschool people see someone ask, "What's the difference between homeschooling and unschooling" they think the same thing, "aren't they both crazy?"

In our search to find the answer, to the Goth vs EMO question, we realized that there were as many definitions for each label as there were people who claimed to be one or the other. There also seemed to be much concern about who was a true GOTH and who was just a wanna be. Sure, there were some common characteristics for each, but still, the definitions were fluid.

I said, "Be above the labels." Don't worry about the labels or other peoples' image wars. Look at how they both claim that they aren't "conformists" but aren't they conforming to each other? There's a type of peer pressure to adhere to these peer-produced not-so-norms.

And then we found out that there were not just "goths" and "emos" there are "punks" too. Just when you thought you had figured out these two labels you find out that there are not just unschoolers and homeschoolers but there are "eclectic" homeschoolers and even "John Holt unschoolers" too!!! What the heck.

We didn't get anywhere. So we played around with some GOTH paper dolls and she realized that it was actually all kind of silly. People want to belong. It's what makes us cling so tightly to a group or label.

I told her that I loved the way that she dresses! I love her camo capris with all the pockets and buttons and how her t-shirts are always so long. I love her flip flops and her hair in her face. I love the way she is and everyone should be just like her - she's so neat! She should be proud of who she is and not worry about other groups. She's such a cool person! Then I realized, "Hey, I was GOTH and EMO before they had a label for it!" (went through that phase 25 years ago.)

But, seriously, I want to be above the labels. I don't want to be an "unschooler" or a "school at homer." We are just a family living and learning together and that means we can fit into all these labels or none depending on the mood. I can identify with all and with none. I love the way we are and I love the people my children are becoming. Let other people who are so inclined entertain themselves by trying to define us. I am not worried about their conclusions.

Don't identify with a label and don't try to fit into one. If you don't wear your label like a banner you won't be offended when you feel someone isn't on your team. There are only imagined teams anyway. GOTH vs EMO wars or the UNSCHOOLER vs School-at-Homer wars - hey, we are all freaks when it gets down to it. Be above the labels.

We've had some fun with this EMO GOTH thing. When I was taking this picture she wanted to make sure that some of her hair was covering one eye. When I was uploading her images to Xanga, Kelsey said, "See you later, I'm going to go write some depressing poetry!" She has also painted her little brother's fingernails BLUE.

I like to say, "ELMO instead of EMO." (Reminds me of that cartoon where the little boy opens his Christmas present and finds a "POLKA MAN" inside. His parents say, "you wanted a polka man, right?")

And speaking of LABELS and STEREO TYPES - THE BREAKFAST CLUB has been on T.V. lately! I love that movie!
Thank goodness the black nail phase gave way to a more summery nail phase....

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