Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Late Recap: Small Press Book Fair And William Upski Wimsatt

Didn’t get out of the house in time to see the readings that kicked off the fair. I’m much too lazy on the weekends, due to my increasingly heavy work load during the week, and a new second job just in time for Christmas, but I did at the very least, make it there and I bought a few books from Soft Skull Press, and a short book of poetry which I’ll update the name and publisher of later.

The book that I bought at the Soft Skull booth was Bomb The Suburbs by William Upski Wimsatt. I spent all of Saturday trying to figure out how I recognized this Wimsatt character’s name, whether it was from a book I had read or someone I had scene on TV, it wasn’t until that I googled him that I figured out how. When I was an impressionable high school kid I came across an article of Wimsatt’s in a magazine. “How I Got my D.I.Y. Degree” changed my perspective of the education system, and while at that age I’d already had a brush with dropping out (had already dropped out) and was back on the straight and narrow (back in night school, summer school, day school, trying to maintain a 4.0 average so I could actually get into college) it seemed that this guy had it all figured out, he was doing exactly what I dreamed of doing, and it had seemed to work. It was idealism at its best, learning from the world, exploring different countries, having education be self-motivated. Its an idea, that life tells you is impossible. I researched that whole thing and learned about the Self Education Foundation which began in 1998 spawned from Wimsatt’s article, started by youth who believed in the cause, working towards grants and scholarships for young people to research and learn outside of the classroom, who wouldn’t normally have the means available and giving them resources to volunteer abroad. I thought it was a worthy cause, although after graduating from high school I did go to off to college (where I promptly dropped out again due to monetary reasons) I forgot about my dreams to become a self-educator, despite the fact that I accidentally ended up one anyway. Most of the books I’ve read and the thing I’ve learned were obtained by my own insistence to be constantly learning something new and interesting, the desire to keep learning despite my lack of formal education.

The Self Education Foundation shut down in November 2005. At the home page of the website there is a note from the founder Emily Nepon explaining that the foundation has finally closed.

I feel I’ve aged out. I started engaging in education activism at 17 years old. A decade later, my memories of compulsory schooling are fading. I don’t have children, so my relationship to schooling isn’t kept fresh by daily experiences in or out of the system. Like any self-educator, my passions have shifted and turned and grown over the past ten years. These days I’m attending Goddard’s Individualized BA program, which is something of a deschooling way to attend college, and studying Jewish feminist and queer history. I believe in self-education and youth activism, but I don’t think I’m currently suited to speak to those communities’ needs or act as a “talent scout” in the way I did when we started the organization.
The website is still running for now, and contains a list of resources such as: Global Bum and BUILD.

I think the young and disadvantaged could benefit from taking advantage of some of these resources, as I wish I had and still might. Many of the people I grew up with didn’t have the opportunity or the monetary resources to take a year off and explore Europe, as a lot of people I had met in college. Any money made from working was either dedicated towards school or home, or maintaining a stable lifestyle.

Related Articles:
Philly Dispatch - No More Prisons
No More Prisons
Link to an excerpt from Bomb The Suburbs


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