book + art {18/40}

Hi, friends! Welcome to Day 18 of our 40 Days of Birthday Gifts!

This one might be more of a “stuff Marla used to write” post (like with opinions and what have you) than a happy little give-away post. Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you’d like.

I don’t mind.


Why do you hate higher education??? they want to know.

I do not hate higher education. (I also do not hate America. Or cats. Or Christmas.)

Here’s what I have said (and will continue to say) about college:

If you are going to college “because it’s just what people do,” then I think it’s a big waste of time and money.

If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, or no idea if you will EVER be able to pay back your debt, or no idea if a college degree will translate into a job that will pay for those years of education, then I think you should explore alternative options.

And, ideally, that should start when you’re 12. Or 8. Or 3.

(I love Esther’s story. She picked up a camera at 8, was homeschooled and graduated at 16, took a photography course at a community college, and now travels the world and helps people through her photography, which is in super high demand. We got to meet her here in Cambodia last month, and I think she’s AMAZING.)

coverunschoolingI just lament the fact that kids these days have no time or energy to pursue what they’re really passionate about. To read or draw or cook or care for animals or study the moon or play the piano or learn about the world or explore the woods (or etc etc etc).

Or just BE. Like soak up the world around them in a not-rushed, freeing sort of way.

I don’t hate college. And I’m not totally against it. I do think it’s over-rated. And certainly not for everyone. And not always worth the price tag.

(I AM for education, particularly education for girls, particularly particularly for girls in places around the world where girls are not expected or allowed to go to school & learn. This is a whole different conversation. My teenage Somali friends? I absolutely encourage them to go to college. Anyway.)

A few weeks ago I was reading a really old (but good) book called Girl of the Limberlost that Gabe’s Grandma Marilyn gave me for my birthday years ago. And a young man says these words to 19-year-old Elnora, the main character of the book:

“What you have to give is taught in no college, and I am not sure but you would spoil yourself if you tried to run your mind through a set groove with hundreds of others… I honestly believe it; give up the college idea. Your mind does not need that sort of development… I do not know why it is the fate of the world to always want something different from what life gives them… my girl, you are in college, and have been always. You are in the school of experience, and it has taught you to think and given you a heart… what you should do is to begin early to practice self-expression. College be confounded! Go to work and show people what there is in you!”

livBe still my unschooling heart.

My oldest daughter has sworn off college (mostly because of the exorbitant cost & because she doesn’t want to learn about things she doesn’t care about & because she has no desire to leave Cambodia ever, except for short trips to the States), but she may end up going. Who knows? Either way is fine with her parents (if she does go, she will need to pay her own way–preferably without borrowing money).

She is OBSESSED with Khmer school right now. LOVES it with every fiber of her being. Is already lamenting the day a few months from now when she will have graduated from the whole thing, the youngest person ever to do so (she’s in a class with people from age 21 to 57).

WHAT WILL I DO THEN?? she wants to know.

She’d like to work as a translator. And do art on the side. And help people. And show them Jesus. And she’s right when she says she doesn’t need a college degree to do that. She’s already doing it at 14.

I’m all for pursuing dreams & doing things unconventionally & being brave enough to question the status quo. And last year I wrote an ebook (an unschooling manifesto) about it. It’s not the definitive word on any of that, but it’s a nice collection of my thoughts on the topic.

And Livi designed the cover. And charged me nothing. SCORE.

And I know people who don’t have kids (and, if they did, they have no plans to ever unschool them), and they still enjoyed the book.

worldAnyway. You’re here to WIN SOMETHING.

Today, I’m giving away a copy of an unschooling manifesto to EVERYONE who leaves a comment. And ONE lucky winner will get this one-of-a-kind original freehand drawing by Olivia Joy Taviano.

(and you can’t tell from the pic, but the ocean is blue)

To be entered to win Livi’s drawing, tell me what you wanted/want to be when you grow up.

(And if you want the e-book–I know it’s not for everyone–just say, “e-book please.”)

And if you want Livi to make & sell more art, let her know.

See you tomorrow for another give-away!

28 thoughts on “book + art {18/40}

  1. Tannia France

    My sister in law sharon Wang just sent me an email about this, I’d love a copy if you are still doing this… thank you! 🙂

  2. Shelly Pordea

    I would love the ebook! I’m headed to India (my first time in Eastern Asia!) in a couple weeks, and I’ve missed missions for life back in the States these past two years…Looking forward to what God has for our future. I haven’t stopped reading your blog and it still just brings so much encouragement to my life, Marla!

  3. Krysten T

    I knew in high school that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I went to college and got a teaching degree as a backup plan. I never was able to get a teaching job but after working as an aide and a substitute teacher I realized I never want to be a teacher. I love kids but think the paperwork, restrictions, and expectations placed on teachers makes teaching very difficult.
    My husband went to a career center affiliated with his high school and was able to get a good full time job right out of high school. I’m very in favor of looking at other options besides college.

  4. Ann

    I enjoy reading your blog but am one of the silent ones who doesn’t tend to comment. I had to today though.

    1) ebook please!!! I’m very interested in learning more about unschooling.

    2) Girl of the Limberlost is one of my absolute favorite books. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it. It’s such an old treasure and it always makes me happy when someone else knows of it. (I know a dear little girl named Elnora after Miss Elnora Comstock the heroine of the Limberlost.)

  5. Hannah w

    I always wanted to be a singer and a teacher, I love helping people and I’m learning more everyday how to do that, so thankful that I’ve been able to join the youth group I grew up in as a leader now 🙂 wow has God changed my direction! EBook please!

  6. Krysten

    I always wanted to be a writer. And I kind of am. I also always wanted to be a mom. And I am one of those too, to 25 kiddos a year 🙂

    I already have that awesome Ebook of yours!

  7. Rachelle Zook

    I wanted to be a nurse…but yeah haha I skipped the whole college scene and came to Cambodia…woooohooo!!!! And Livi seriously that girl is amazing, she is going to be a world changer, kind of like her mom! 🙂
    E-book please…

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      I was a nursing major for 2 quarters in college before I switched to elementary education (because, EWWWW!! blood!!!). Last year when we lived at Abbey Lane, I somehow became known as the lady who will wash and bandage your cuts. Can’t count how many kiddos came to my door bleeding. God gave me grace to never pass out. 🙂

  8. Allison

    I always wanted to sing and dance, went to college for it, and still get to do it as an adult!!

    Livi – you’re a rockstar! So amazed!

    Ebook please 🙂

    1. Marla Taviano Post author

      You’re AMAZING. In addition to all your mad skillz, you also have this generosity thing going on where you help a 14yo pursue her dreams by helping to pay for Khmer school. THANK YOU. <3

  9. Rebekah Stupakewicz

    I wanted to be a mom, teacher and singer. While my “singing career” isn’t what I thought when I was younger…I’m a mom, a Homeschooler and I sing at church. 😉

  10. C prether

    I always wanted to be a teacher and I was. Crying every August as I went to work and left my babies. I loved the money but we decided that I will stay home now. We don’t have much money now but I’m loving staying home. My only regret is I didn’t do this sooner.

  11. Jennifer Leathermon

    I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and now I have the privilege of being mom and teacher to 5 kids! I’ve got my own one room school house going on. (Side note, I always wished I had been born a pioneer like Laura Ingalls Wilder) Super excited about reading your thoughts on the unschooling method! Love you Marla! Ebook please!

  12. Amanda Buss

    I always felt called into missions. Since i was 8! I’ve been on many short term trips, and am part of a church whose focus is missions. Currently my mission is to work with special needs families at our church and take care of my babies and husband at home!

  13. cyndee

    I just wanted to be a wife and mom. I grew up in the 60s/70s, so that wasn’t ‘good enough.’ Therefore, instead of throwing all my energy into being the best wife and mom I could be, I wasted a lot of precious thought time fretting about what MORE I could/should be doing.

  14. Heidi

    When I was 8 I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I taught my stuffed animals, I did all I could to teach people anything…even if I didn’t know it. 🙂

    My favorite teaching experience was a short summer teaching English to refugees ages 18-70. It was humbling to have men from cultures where women were not allowed authority calling me “sistah” or “teachah.” Since then, I worked using what I’d learned in college and through various experiences to develop curriculum, facilitate life skills classes and Bible Studies. Now, I am a nanny, using what I learned to teach three wonderful people how to recognize colors, letters, numbers, how to clean and bake, and my favorite- how to pretend.

    My college education has been invaluable to me and I am so grateful for parents who helped shoulder the financial burden. That said, I am looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned about the overrated system of higher education dependent on what my future children (Baby M. due March 24, 2016) love to do and want to learn. 🙂

    Ebook please!! 🙂

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