October 18, 2007

A Revelation (& Some Poetry)

I'm gearing up to start a teeny bit of "teaching." Not a huge amount. Just enough to make my husband relax a bit. We all have to be okay with what's happening in our house and at this point Warren is having some doubts about the whole child-led learning thing. I'm not quite ready to break out the workbooks, but I did order the "I Hate Mathematics Book" and I bought what looks like a really cool science book with some history thrown in called--shoot, I can't find it. That's the down side of being messy. You can never find anything when you need it. Anyway, the book is all about great inventions throughout history, who invented them and why, and it gives you instructions on how to create the inventions yourself. There's a pottery wheel, a trebuchet, vegetable dye...it looks really fun.

The reason I'm not jumping right in, though, is that I want it to feel kind of organic. I'm not sure if that's possible since organic would be coming from Jerry. I'm trying to devise a plan that will make it seem organic, at least--maybe even make it seem like Jerry's idea. But, before I start that I really think I should write out my educational philosophy. I know. I know. I said I was going to do that weeks ago. I'm procrastinating.

Why am I procrastinating? I think I'm kind of scared. Dumb, huh? I mean, I've already chosen homeschooling, then I went even further outside the norm and decided to try unschooling, so it's clear I'm taking my own path but writing down my educational philosophy will mean that I have to own it. It will mean that I'm not going by what other people are telling me is "right."

Oh my God! I've just had a revelation! I went from doing what the Waldorf school said was right, directly into doing what the unschoolers say is right. So I'm comfortable being told what to do because that's the usual way of life. The "experts" give their opinions, tell you what you need to do, and you do it--at least I do. So this whole time I thought I was such an individual, but really I just went from following one (not so mainstream) set of rules to following another (even less mainstream) set of rules. Sure, they weren't rules the majority of people in the US were following, but they were still rules. Wow! That explains my fixation with unschooling the "right" way. This is fascinating! I've been a follower for so long, that even though I'm on the road not (or less) taken I'm busy trying to step into someone else's footprints. Wow! I have to stop that!

Okay, here's the Robert Frost poem for some inspiration:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So, for about the 500th time I'm telling myself to mellow out, and do what feels right to me. I guess I don't even really need to "gear up." It's okay if I don't know what's right immediately. It's okay if I don't have a plan. I can still move forward.

One of the reasons I felt the need to prepare for this teeny bit of teaching, though, is that I'm still unsure about the place of the computer and video games in our daily lives. Jerry likes to turn them on in the morning as soon as he wakes up, which I completely understand because I like to do the same thing. It helps me ease into the day. It also tends to suck the day away, if we're not careful. So maybe I won't wait until I "figure out" the screen thing before I make some changes. I'll start the teaching (facilitating? guiding?) slowly by showing him some of the books I bought, by doing some of the experiements with him, by continuing our mental math and maybe even writing some of it down. Maybe our daily rhythms will adjust on their own and I won't have to "gear up" for anything.

But I do have to figure out MY philosophy on education. That I'm sure of. I need to know what I believe, so I can stop trying to do what other people think is best. Okay. I'll do that but I won't wait until it's finished to start making small changes to our daily lives.

I'm going to end with another poem. This is by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

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