We are actively unschooling with confidence and grace and have chosen to begin our return journey back to the ordinary world. Yet, it may not be all smooth sailing. In fact, we may soon find ourselves fleeing rather than walking.
… if the hero’s wish to return to the world has been resented by the gods or demon’s, then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a lively, often comical, pursuit. (p. 170, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell)
As Campbell notes in the book, not all stages are necessarily a part of every hero’s journey—it’s a matter of personal circumstances. And this stage is certainly one of the more optional ones. In over a dozen years, I don’t recall hearing any stories of experienced unschooling parents actively discouraging other unschooling parents from choosing to return and more actively engage with the conventional world.
But, I definitely think we can put an unschooling twist on this stage! What about when people in our ordinary world don’t want us to return?
They probably weren’t very vocal about it while we were mostly cocooning, busily exploring and learning about unschooling, but that can change as we return and more actively engage with the ordinary world.
Maybe family or neighbours threaten to call family services because they don’t understand unschooling and have no intention of learning more. They believe it’s wrong and neglectful and aren’t open to discussion.
Or family or neighbours drop by regularly and, maybe even inadvertently, belittle you and your children. Quizzing your children and questioning you, you’re left feeling inadequate and it takes hours or days for everyone to recover their joyful unschooling momentum.
In other words, sometimes there are people in the ordinary world who don’t want you to bring your funky new lifestyle and ideas into their bubble of “conventional society.” So much so that they will actively lash out at you. If you find you—or anyone in your family—feeling unsafe, you may well choose to flee/escape to safety.
Maybe the flight is more metaphorical as you choose to actively distance yourself from discouraging family and friends, but I have definitely heard stories of unschoolers moving away to distance themselves from negative environments. I imagine this could be a difficult decision to make, revisiting the strength of your convictions about the unschooling lifestyle versus the need to recover from regular assaults on those convictions versus the upheaval of moving to a new community.
But I can also imagine the incredible sense of relief and joy and adventure an unschooling family might feel when they choose to take that magic flight to a new community—a fresh start to go hand in hand with their new perspective on learning and living.
If you’re inclined to share, I’d love to hear about your journey in the comments! Here are a few questions about the “magic flight” stage to get you started:
1. Has a magic flight been part of your return journey?
2. Did you experience a negative reception as you began to more actively live your unschooling lifestyle in your wider community? What helped you move through it?
3. What things did you find challenging as you began stepping back into the conventional world?
The road so far …
Departure phase of the journey
Call to adventure: We discover unschooling and excitedly imagine the possibilities.
Refusal of the call: The many implications of choosing unschooling hit. Do we commit?
Supernatural aid: Our children guide us on our unschooling journey.
Crossing of the first threshold: Confronting the guardians who claim to protect us.
The belly of the whale: Transitioning to a learning mindset.
Initiation phase of the journey
The road of trials: The heart of deschooling.
The meeting with the goddess: Seeing the value in all experiences.
Woman as the temptress: Accepting our nature.
Atonement with the father: Accepting others where they are.
Apotheosis: Moving to compassion.
The ultimate boon: Unschooling with confidence and grace.
Return phase of the journey
Refusal of the return: Will we choose to step back out of our unschooling bubble?