living. She writes that it
represents a return to more widespread capacity among the population to feed,clothe, shelter, and provide for itself.´ This capacity, of course, has been eroded among the middle andupper classes that have been working ever harder and longer in that
real world´ and have, therefore,been spending money on clothing, convenience food, leisure activities, and so on, rather than makingtheir own.
But even before the current economic downturn began, some of these
homemaking´ skills ± such asgardening, sewing, knitting, and canning have been enjoying a return to popularity. You may be familiar with the blog
. Its founder and co-editor Mark Frauenfelder (who is also the editor of
magazine) believes that this do-it-yourself ethic is only partly about the things we produce. He says it¶salso ± at least for those of us who went to school ± about learning how to learn (another important skill inthe new economy), and about connecting with others who share our interests.
There is already an informal education network in place to help people learn skills like permaculture,methods of home construction like cob and strawbale, and renewable energy technologies like solar andbiofuels. Much of the learning happens during short-term workshops, online courses, and internships or apprenticeships. A lot of it is hands-on, actually using the skills being learned to create real-life projects. And ± not insignificantly ± learners come from all backgrounds and are of all ages.
If the plenitude model holds true, we¶ll be seeing a lot more of that sort of learning. More thanconventional job market skills, people will need a diversification of skills and attitudes that will help themmeet their needs outside of our current market economy as that economy transitions ± either intentionallyor by default ± to a new, more sustainable way.
And, as Schor isn¶t the only one to point out, declining labor markets (with fewer jobs or more jobs withshortened hours, and underemployment of various other sorts) will give us all more time to develop thosenew attitudes and skills. What are those skills? Aside from life skills, they¶ll include flexibility, adaptability,creative thinking, networking, research ability, motivation, time management, adaptability to numeroustypes of learning modes, strong family and community ties, entrepreneurship, self-reliance, willingness todo it yourself. Sound like an unschooler you know?!
he industrial model of work design is becoming outmoded, and taking the industrial model of education along with it.
These are the very skills that business thinkers agree will be indispensable as we transition to a neweconomy. Business writer Seth Godin¶s new book
is all about how the industrial model for workdesign is no longer of much use. Godin says that the work that people will be paid for in the future is thedifficult, innovative, one-of-a-kind, creative stuff.
Richard Florida, the urban theorist and best-selling author who also runs the Martin Prosperity Institute atthe University of Toronto¶s management school agrees. He believes that our recent recession is a
greatreset´ that will fundamentally change the work we do and the way we do it. The change marks the end of the consumer-driven postwar economy and the rise of one built on knowledge work and the servicesector.
What About College?
Although some students pick up some needed skills and attitudes in college and university, they, like alllearning, are best gained ± as unschoolers know ± as part of daily life. And that realization has led agrowing number of academics and economists to question the current idea that everyone needs a formalpost-secondary education.