About the Project

Looking Back and Moving Forward: One Year Later

Yesterday marked the official close of my year of reschooling. Though it was a busy Saturday, my thoughts kept coming back to the progress I’ve made this year in finding balance and contentment, and the gratitude I have for all the people who helped make this project possible. You know who you are, and I hope you know how thankful I will always be to you.

Two big lessons that come to mind:

1) Achievement hasn’t made me happy in the past, and it won’t make me happy in the future.

2) Nearly 100 percent of the time, life isn’t as serious as I think it is.


School’s Almost Out for the Summer

Photo by James Adamson

I’ve decided to end the official academic year of reschooling this Saturday, June 20th. I’d been thinking June 15, because it’s closer to the real last day of school for most kids, but June 20th has more significance for me. It’s exactly ten months after the first day of kindergarten (August 20th, 2008), and it’s exactly one year after I left my full-time job as Spark Co-Director. It feels like the right time to step back and reflect on my first year that I’ve educated myself on my own terms.


Are You Still Reschooling Yourself?

Aside from “So how’s Mississippi?”, the most common question I get these days is, “Are you still reschooling yourself?” I’m never quite sure how to answer that.

The project completion date is technically June 15th, marking the end of a full school year, so yes, I’m still officially reschooling. I think the question gives me pause because Reschool Yourself is gradually becoming more of a lifestyle than a finite project.

The fall was about looking back and processing the past. The spring is about moving forward, and figuring out what kind of lifestyle I want to lead. I’d originally envisioned the spring as an intensive period of travel and self-directed study. However, I came to realize that I was craving stability rather than nomadic adventure. I decided to postpone any major travels and move to the South, which is one of the best places to plant roots.


Exteme Makeover: Reschool Yourself Edition

Today the RSY site got a little cosmetic surgery, a tuck here and an enhancement there.

Here are the changes, which should make the site more user friendly:

1) Sidebars

The challenge of blogs is that older posts get pushed down into the archives, even if they’re still relevant. I restructured the home page to make room to highlight the best of the blog.

  • Donor List: Because the list of donors continues to grow (thank you!), I moved it to the middle of the page.
  • About Reschool Yourself: Updated and condensed the project description.
  • Best of Reschool Yourself: Added my favorite posts from the project so far.
  • Most Popular Posts: Expanded the list, based on the number of page views. to show the Top 5.
  • Reschool Yourself Here: Added my favorite sites with reschooling themes. My talented friends are behind most of them.


Stepping Out of the Whirlwind

I took a break from blogging because my sister got married last week in New Orleans, and there was much to do. I just began drafting one big update of everything that has happened in the month of January so far, and it wouldn’t all fit into one post:

* Something Far Finer documentary shoot (coordinating details and shooting the film)

* Preparing to move to Jackson, Mississippi (packing, saying goodbye to everyone)

* Being the Maid of Honor in my little sister‘s wedding

* Settling into a new life in Jackson

It’s crazy how these major events seem to happen all at once. I’ll post a bit about each one this week. For now, I have a few mini-updates:

Life in Jackson

So far, so good. I’m loving it here so far and have been taking it easy for a couple days, ignoring the suitcases overflowing with my clothes so I can recover from my cold and share the hundreds of photos I took at Gill’s wedding. I have a feeling that the south will slow me down and be good for my personal development and sense of community.


Day 1 in Mississippi: A Sign of Good Things to Come

Today is my first day as a resident of Jackson, Mississippi. I woke up to discover a ladybug in the medicine cabinet. I’ve never found a ladybug inside the house before, and as it’s considered good luck in cultures from China to Iran, I decided to take this as a sign of exciting things to come.

When I tell people that my boyfriend lives in Jackson, they normally respond, “Florida?” (No, that’s Jacksonville) or “Wyoming?” (That’s Jackson Hole). When I add that I’m moving here for an indeterminate period of time, they say, “What’s in Mississippi?” Those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area often scrunch up their faces like they’ve just smelled day-old fish. One current student at my high school said, “But there’s nothing there!” This is the general impression that a lot of Californians have of the state with the most obese population for three consecutive years, and that just overtook Texas and New Mexico for having the highest teen pregnancy rate. (We’re number one! We’re number one!)


RSY Follow-Up Article & Blog Highlights

Today’s Sonoma Index-Tribune features a follow-up article to the piece published in September, during the project launch. Emily Charrier-Botts gives an overview of my experience in the classrooms last fall and includes answer to some of the questions that I’ve gotten frequently:

  • Why did you go back to your classrooms, and did you get what you came for?
  • What did you learn from the experience?
  • What kind of work do you envision doing in the future?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that achievement has not made me happy,” Dicker said. School was always a place where Dicker excelled.

From elementary school through college, she did everything right. But after stepping out of the education system, she began to wonder if fulfilling every educational expectation had really brought her to where she wanted to be. “I sort of lived the American Dream of education. I did it all really well, I played the game,” Dicker said. “I thought I’d come out on the other side happy and fulfilled and that just wasn’t the case. I wanted to go back (to school) and find out why that happened.”

As Dicker wrapped up her time revisiting her education, she felt she had faced a lot of the personal hang-ups she had held over from her school days. “In school, the idea is to stand out, whether it’s in sports or academics. But learning to compare yourself to others is the best way to set yourself up for disappointment,” she said, adding that “Reschool Yourself” has changed her view on what’s important. “The word achieve has been replaced for me by empowerment.”

Read the full article here.


I’m Goin’ to Jackson

In four hours, I leave for the south, to live there for an indefinite period of time. This fact still hasn’t quite sunk in.

First I head to New Orleans for my baby sister‘s wedding. As the maid of honor, I have to give the toast without too much pitiful blubbering. I’m also organizing the bachelorette party, which will be SO MUCH FUN.

Then…..home. To Jackson, Mississippi. As big a culture shock as this might be, I’m more and more excited about it. I’ll write a full post soon about the differences I’ve already observed between Mississippi and my native California.

I’ll also write about the surreal experience of being filmed for a documentary. With coordinating nearly all the location details and permissions, organizing goodbye meetups with my friends, and planning for the wedding and the move….it has been one of the most energizing and debilitating weeks of my life.

Well, it’s off to bed for a nice nap before the SFO airporter comes. I took a long look at the Golden Gate Bridge as I drove over it today, and the San Francisco skyline across the bay. I surveyed the famous hills and the Victorians lining the streets, side by side. I said goodbye to the endless restaurants and bars, and the people whom I’ve grown close with over the last few years. I’m going to miss the Bay Area and my community here. It’s all I’ve ever known. At the same time, I’m looking forward to having a completely new experience, and I’m ready for it.

In the words of Johnny Cash, “I’m goin’ to Jackson…look out, Jackson town.”

Making Movie Magic

As I’ve mentioned, I feel fortunate to be included in an education documentary film called Something Far Finer. It will explore the possibilities for 21st Century education, especially the ways in which it could foster creativity in children. The director, Kaoru Wang, is profiling people who have outside-the-box ideas for the education system, as well as projects that put these ideas into practice.


Reschooling Tool #14: Trampoline (The RSY Video Debut)

Trampoline Gym from Darren Schwindaman on Vimeo.

Trampolining is one of my favorite ways to reschool, for these reasons:

1. It’s incredible aerobic exercise. I’m a regular jogger but get exhausted in about ten minutes. Your legs and booty will feel sore the next day.

2. It makes you feel like a little kid. No matter how old you are, on a trampoline you bounce and giggle like you did when you were five years old. At Sky High, there’s also a foam pit where you can fall in backwards or do bellyflops, and a dodgeball court where the littlest kids will surely get you out in the blink of an eye.

3. It brings out your inner daredevil. You feel emboldened to try all kinds of crazy stunts. I’m normally very cautious, but I end up somersaulting and doing adventurous things like jumping off the bouncy walls (which is how I fell and skinned my elbow). I curbed my risky behavior when I remembered what kind of basic insurance I have and how accident-prone I am. But for a few precious minutes, I felt like Evel Knievel.