A Blog About Education, Lifestyles, and Community
Is this blog about education? Or something broader?
When Randy and I first talked about starting a blog, we thought the focus might be education. Education was a big topic for us at the time. I was finishing my PhD, immersed in the educational systems of academia and working on numerous learning-related projects. Our second kid was on the way. We were contemplating how we might raise and educate our children. We furrowed our brows at all the problems in mainstream American society, wondering how we might fix the world for our kids.
Many problems we saw seemed to relate to public education and its failures. We delved, in quite the gung-ho fashion, into self-directed education, homeschooling, unschooling, classical education, and other styles of teaching and learning that might work better than conventional public schools for most kids. "Down with coercive education!" "Down with institutionalizing kids in government-run re-education centers!" That sort of thing. We were zealous in our opinions. Education, we figured, we could write a whole blog about.
Plus, we could relate just about anything we wanted to talk about to education and learning. It didn't actually have to be an education-only blog. Want to talk about a new construction project building garden beds in our yard? We're learning how to build them! Want to complain about taxation? Oh the woes of financial literacy and its lack, and by the way, how can we increase people's understanding of money? Education again.
Current events? Parenting? Book reviews? Everything could be tied back to education. Sometimes a little invention and story manipulation might be needed to make the tenuous ties stronger, but... It would work. Sure. Education.
Pivot: Are we living out our values?
Then Randy read The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher. The book is about building enduring Christian communities of faith, hope, and love that can withstand the onslaught of mainstream culture on their way of life and on their beliefs. The book impressed on him the problems of society and how it's pretty unlikely that any individual will be able to fix anything from within the system.
Instead, don't try to fix the system. Form intentional communities and resilient countercultures that stand outside the mainstream. Be like the Benedictine monks. Live out your values, even if it means exile from the mainstream. Start small. Change the world from within your community. Keep your way of life alive in the face of barbarism, immoral heathens, and obscene savages. (I read the book, too, though it didn't have quite the same impact for me.)
We talked about communities. We currently inhabit a suburban area outside a small city. Not exactly the middle of nowhere, but certainly a far cry from the streets of Boston, where we spent six years during my PhD. We thought about who we interacted with, the kinds of people we wanted to be, where we were headed, and the beliefs and values that seemed to be shaping all our opinions.
Were we living out our values? Were we doing things the "right" way? (Was there a "right" way?) Would writing a blog about education help or hinder in getting us and the rest of the world a little closer to what we think might be a desirable outcome?
Whys, whats, and hows
Maybe education wasn't the right frame for our blog project. We wanted to share more about our lives—especially the philosophy and values that shape our lives. We wanted to share what wisdom we've gained and prompt conversation around issues that mattered to us. We wanted to talk about the whys as well as the whats and hows. Why matters.
At which point Randy said, "Wait, it's a lifestyle-philosophy blog?" I think he was incredulous because he had never previously seen himself as a lifestyle blogger... Although "lifestyle-philosophy" may not be an official blog category (but who's keeping the official list, anyway?), the phrase accurately describes a certain subset of blogs that market particular lifestyles and particular life philosophies. Well, maybe it is.
The Deliberate Owl is a blog about us, our lives, and how we're living out our values. That means it's a blog about education and learning. About parenting, families, faith, community, marriage, and kids. About finances, independence, and self-employment. About gardening and the outdoors. About art, writing, and baking. About curiosity. Science. Philosophy. Interdependence.
It's a blog about being deliberate in our choices and actions. It's a blog about being countercultural, unconventional, and creative. About being purposeful, balanced, and loving. About being intellectual, critical, and flexible.
It's a blog about our journey. We hope you'll join us!