An Outdoor Education

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I’ll say it. I have been having an increasingly difficult time justifying getting a formal school education with a mountain of debt on my shoulders only to take that 4-6 years of my life and maybe head into the future with the job I might want, but I’m not totally sold on it yet.

See, the main issue is that the vocation that I hope to succeed in someday is not exactly the main stream response to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and if my 12 years of public education is any indication, I’m not going to be taught anything I couldn’t already learn on my own within my given interests. Never in my education have I encountered something that might give me passion or knowledge about the environment except for one project in the fifth grade that I did for earth day. Even then, all I had done was make a poster that said, “Eat less meat,” and provided ten less then in-depth reasons why.

I want to be able to see the people and meet with those pushing for the environment, instead of sitting in a classroom and hearing about it.

I want to photograph and write and film and explore the world’s ecosystems and learn about new cultures and their own relationship with nature.

Just this one sentence, and I could go into a variety of different fields that would satisfy only one tenant each of my desire to see and explore. The only solution I see is to go to school to be an adventurer and that really isn’t a mainstream major.

I believe that the environment is of the utmost importance in our lives, and I want to be able to explore that relationship through:

Food (What do other cultures grow and eat? Let’s try it.).

People (How does this person interact with the environment around them? What can I learn from it?)

Exploration (How can I show people that this exists out here?)

Education (How can I educate people on what needs to be done? What has been done? What can we do?)

I want to meet people and see how they live and make connections with those that need their voices heard. Fighting for the environment is all about giving the voiceless a voice and that includes the people that live among the land.

I want to protect the bears in Alaska and the coral in the pacific and the topsoil on the plains because every one of these components constitute a portion of the global ecosystem and each one has their own culture and story.

School does not teach me any of that. It does not. Twelve years of school and I would know nothing of the environment and our natural world unless I actively and tirelessly seeked it out.

TheOutLife is thinking and eating and living outside the boxes of our lives but if I spend my time through school that won’t necessarily teach me any of that than what is the point for me to go through it? If my end goal is to settle down, own a home, and twiddle my thumbs through life when I have the whole world at my fingertips, then what is the point?

I started my photographic and writing journey with no voice and no view and no knowledge of my own but the very little bit of information I started with. From reading and studying the internet, the world’s free school system, I learned and clarified my own knowledge and existence far more than I feel the school system has.

I taught myself how to use a camera and write without an academic voice. I became an un-teacher, removing the things that made me a cookie cutter human being and sought to find my own passions.

School gave me self-doubt and “be realistic” and black and white answers to gray questions that all contrived to show me what I was required to limit myself to. Somehow, lucky for me, I stumbled upon the concept that continues to shape my life and existence, TheOutLife.

When I talk with people they comment on the brand and my message and my words with respect and admiration for what I am doing. School never taught me to write a blog or take photos or care about the environment. I did that. My parents did that. The experiences I have had in my life did that.

It seems to me that a desk is a good way to stay sedentary. And to leave that desk is a good way to fly.

This comes from my senior year in high school. When my friends and family tell me:

“You’re so lucky that you know what you want to do.”

“You’re lucky you have a passion.”

“You’re so creative.”

“You’re unique for having a plan.”

“I wish I could do that.”

School didn’t make me this. It didn’t give me this. I cannot say for sure what a college education will do for me but many people have told me that I will love it. They tell me that there will be people who care and people who have a plan and people with passion. On top of that I will get an education in the field I most love.

I’m hoping that when I go off to college my classes are less filled with apathy and more filled with life. Right now, school is bringing me back from the existence I hope to lead.

If college is more of the same…. I don’t know what I will do.

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