Previously Unreleased: Unschooling and Death

I found an article in the Huffington Post about inappropriate representations of unschooling, a form of youth-led learning, and an actual example of an unschooled person. These are interesting articles – I’m going to look into getting a news feed widget.

The next bit of news is that I’m slowly but surely indulging in an college course presented by Yale University’s Open Courseware. OCW’s are free lectures and courses made available to the public by colleges. For the most part they are presented by Ivy Leagues and other prestigious schools and it honestly has that component of self promotion, but it’s still free knowledge. I have been thinking about death and existence for a while now, and looking at it and examining it from an academic standpoint is comforting. The course is taught by Professor Shelly Kagan.

I enjoy this course because it gets me to challenge my beliefs and I’m not being forced to do it. I told my mom about the course and she frowned and asked why I would want to study such a thing. Then she asked if it was for my actual college education. I sighed and said, “No, not everything has a purpose in that way.” I remember going to my local library to have books ordered from the Central Library, or as I call it – the real library with real resources and stocked shelves. When the woman at the information desk looked at the titles she kind of laughed. I said it was for a class and she remarked, “It has to be.”

The main thing the Shelly is getting students to look at at this point is the existence of the soul and what role the soul has on death and our perception of what death means. There is the dualist view which many of us have, that we are body and soul. Then there is the physical view, which says that while we are unique and have evolved consciousness, we are just physical, we are just our body. I’ve believed in souls for a long time and now if someone were to ask me if I had one, I would say I am not sure. It’s odd, but I’m okay with not being sure. Picking things apart and figuring out why people believe what they believe interests me.

However this also got me to thinking about how many people don’t question these things and prefer not to. Lately I’ve been treating religion and faith the same way I treat the existence of a soul. I’m not sure, but I’m open to questioning it and figuring out it’s value and why it should be considered valuable. Which brings me to remember that recently I was asked if I believed in sin. I said no and for the life of the questioner that didn’t make sense. I tried to explain why but failed. I don’t know it just doesn’t make sense to me. Of course there are things that happen that are negative and lead to negative consequences, and those things should be corrected or avoided, but I don’t believe in it in the religious way. Maybe that is because I am questioning souls. If there are no souls, then sin as an abstract act of the spirit is pointless because what we call sinful acts are then only limited in the physical material world.

I fall more and more out of traditional faith everyday, and that will sadly lead to problems with me and the people I meet in my life. Most people are strong believers in their faith, and in the United States, Christianity is the widespread faith. I just can’t bring myself to take it literally or even as the truth. While there is great philosophy contained in religious scriptures, I don’t feel it in the religious way. I wish there was another word to describe it – religiosity, but I can’t find it. Fervor? Either way, when people discover this, I will either be pitied or shunned or hated. People will feel terrible to know that I don’t believe what they believe, and that makes me want to pity myself. But I can’t wallow in the pity even though I try to – I know that I’m never go back to traditional faith ever again.

I put the bible on my summer reading list, for I am still curious. I’ll see how that goes. Then I’ll read the Qur’an, the Vedas, The Four Noble Truths/Eight Fold Path, and perhaps the Gnostic Gospels. I want to see what followers of faith are getting that I have not.


Posted on May 26, 2010, in Alternative Education, Radical Education, unschooling and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Starting at about age 11, I started reading holy books. It wasn’t because I was seeking, but because I figured if people feel so strongly about these things, I wanted a glimpse of their perspectives. What I got was that each has a very similar fundamental moral code, which I hadn’t needed any religious instruction to agree with.

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