I happened upon filmmaker Astra Taylor and her documentary Examined Life at the Women with Vision festival last spring and found myself a huge fan of the film, and I became intrigued by her bio, particularly the fact that she was unschooled until age 13. From what I know about unschooling, it’s very similar to the artist’s life. You wake up each day guided by the question ‘what do I want to learn today?’ You’re not told by a boss or teacher what to do, when to do it, and how to get it done, rather your own curiosities lead the way.
This anarchist approach to education has been fundamental to Taylor’s D.I.Y. attitude towards learning, creativity, and pedagogy. As one interviewer wrote, ‘Her non-traditional upbringing, or as she calls it, her “super weirdo hippy background,” stood her in good stead, providing a strong sense of confidence and an affirmation in her own abilities and artistic vision.’ Thinking about Astra’s unconventional past, I began to wonder how education and the way we’re taught to learn can hinder or support our creative development.
Luckily, Astra will be back to the Walker next Thursday night (talk and gallery admission are free) to speak about how her personal experiences of growing up home-schooled without a curriculum or schedule have shaped her personal philosophy and development as an artist. If you need a primer, check out this great interview she did with CitizenShift or you can get a better idea of Astra’s influences by her recommended reads:
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