Friday, January 08, 2010

january seventh

I've been thinking on lately the fact that our blog doesn't say hardly anywhere, "Unschoolers!".

Not that I want to separate ourselves from anyone else, or to make the distinction because of any imagined superiority.... but one of the whole reasons of this blog (there are so many) is that I imagine the doings and beings of our everyday lives to be evidence that living in joy is Enough.
You can Play (with everything!).... and it is Enough.
Children can explore and discover and absorb at their own pace... and it is Enough.
Learning and living can be had with Joy and Choice as the main objectives, and it will be Enough.
Sometimes I think of the telling about the processes (such as Trev's learning to read on his own, without any "lessons", and now Maddie's learning to write), showing pictures of the shelves, and writing the snippets of the everyday discoveries and play as a record of a twenty-year experiment....
The Objective:
To live life as fantastically, well-ly, and richly as possible - ie to live and grow in Happiness.

The Process:
Wheelbarrow races and butterfly chases. Painting as a possibility every single day. Favorite museums and galleries are considered home turf. Always Yes! to a snowcone. Cutting literary teeth on words like Jurassic and Parasaurolophus. Learning to read and spell and round-up numbers and read a map and recognize patterns while playing super-fun computer games. Holding snakes that Daddy catches in the wild. Turning over rocks. Mixing and exploding things on the kitchen table.
The Result:
Of course I can't know the result, can I? But I can look at two always unschooled children, and tell you whether or not they've ever learned anything.
And I can guess that they will be much like their young selves when they are grown.
And I can say with a certain heart that if the catastrophic result of living in Happiness and pursuing Joy should cause us to be discontent to live and work and have relationships in Misery, and we're always instead led by Joy, then we'll just have to live with those results. [rolls eyes.]

Along these same lines, I've shared in the last few months that my main objective as far as things we learn about and Do and Be are led by my personal (parental/facilitator) educational objectives: Discover and Create. I've felt that these two things are nice, big, encompassing ideas - and if we can include these two things in our Every Day's, then we're doing pretty fine.

I've since added another, though I'm not quite sure yet what to call it. It looks like processing. Thinking. Analyzing. Connecting.

I don't imagine that this is something that can be forced, of course. Nor do I imagine that it is something that does not happen naturally and spontaneously every day.
But every since listening to John Bennett and reading A Mathematician's Lament by Paul Lockhart, my head has changed regarding the study of mathematics, and gone from "how can I incorporate math (to make sure there are no fears about it, and that it's a comfortable topic) into our every day?" Not being a mathematician myself, I really had no idea what the goals or ideals were. My only real understanding of the subject was numbers, and what they were teaching in school in an orderly (if sometimes confusing and mostly very uninteresting) fashion.
In step Lockhart and Bennett.
Thank goodness. :)
Two very bright mathematicians whose positions are (paraphrasing) Don't teach boring processes! You'll ruin it! Play games! Let the learning be fun - mathematics should be about excited logic and thinking, not dreadful, boring -and useless- formulas.

Which leads us to the morning of January 7th.

I've been thinking, as I said, that another thing to scan for on my Mama's Radar is thinking.... contemplation. Contemplate.... yes, that might just do it.

First thing in the morning I looked up the games mentioned by Lockhart. He mentioned Chess, Go, Hex, Backgammon, Sprouts, Nim... Cool. A great place to start, don't you think?
Bennett has a few things in his video background... Blokus (you can find it at a toy store locally), Mastermind (which we own and I love - also find locally), Quads (there is also a magnetic one), Avalam (several different people make it - it's coming here, soon), Quixo, Quoridor, Pente, Katamino, Subtrax, Quarto, and Zertz.
What a list.
How excited I am about this list and these games.

So! My day began with checking out Go!. Never even heard of it.
I studied it for a while, got a very basic understanding of how it works, got excited to make our own board, and checked out Hex. Same thing. This time I actually got to play...
I'm embarrassed to say that though it states that if you go first, you should be able to win the game, that has not been my experience so far. :/. But I figure I'll get comfortable with the way it works, and eventually my mind will engage and be able to See.

Moving on.

We had a date with friends at the park, so we got our cookies Fancified.

Trev and I watched "Leaves and Light - the Land Art of Richard Shilling" (via 5OrangePotatoes - thanks, Lisa!), and I got excited to exercise some artistic muscles on our visit to the park we had planned.

To the park!

(Not too much LandArt, but certainly an afternoon spent outdoors is A Fine Thing.)

There was all the usual play

- which looks like

sharing (feeding apples to horses)

and there were discussions

and observations.

A couple of errands on the way home,

and we eventually tucked our tired selves into nooks and crannies and books and warm blankets.

And we'll call that Good Enough, shall we?


  1. We love Go here. I was introduced to it at a coffee house I frequented when in college. My husband fell in love with it after we met. The Elf (seven) likes it well enough, but prefers chess. I enjoy a good game of Go but sometimes jones for Othello instead. (:

  2. oh, thank you, thank you for the games list!! I've been loathe to go through the video again just to figure out what they were playing =)

    I discovered your blogs recently (likely through and am enjoying them so much. They have quickly become some of my favorite inspiration reading!

  3. I wish that someone had taught me math by playing fabulous games and other fun mediums! Maybe if I had learned math in a more fun, relaxed atmosphere I would not have such an adverse reaction to it when faced with it! :)

    Pente is one of my faves, Gosh, it has been years since I have played though. I think we may need to purchase a copy of it and add it to our game cabinet!

  4. beautifully put! thank you for all the inspiration...



    I only hope to come close to as joyful as you are. Our lives have not been so. Thank you for lighting the way and inspiring the lost (namely me).

    I have a long way to go to get back though.

    But I will.

  6. Just what I needed to read today! Sometimes I freak-out that all we are doing is "playing," but of course, we are doing so much more. Love getting a peek into your days! :)

  7. lady, MORE than good enough. i can't tell you how it helps to know your thinks are out there, and to have you share them is so helpful. we got katamino for christmas and are really enjoying it (esp E at seven) - blokus is another favorite. i have been reluctant to embrace "games!" as our math "curriculum" (at least out loud), but that is what is making sense to me as well. there are days when E is happy to "do math" and i can see her comfort level with understanding numbers has grown (like with understanding that counting by fives helps with telling time), but mostly we play.

  8. I have had a link to your blog up on my site for quite a while now and I really love what you had to say about unschooling. I have struggled with that label and our loosey goosey homeschooling approach. I often convey to people that it is like riding the rapids when you go with the inspirational and creative flow of your children.

  9. I definately think it is good enough! :)

  10. It is ALL more than enough. It is perfection. It is NOW!

  11. I can't wait to hang with you guys someday!!! You rock.

  12. Oh, Goodness.
    I just spent a goodly amount of time responding individually to everyone's comments -and explaining that I didn't earlier because we've had a houseful of friends today - and somehow, it got lost!!

    So please consider yourselves all properly and enthusiastically thanked, as I so appreciate your understanding and empathy as I muddle through this life!

    I so appreciate all of you!
    (and I'm sorry you're getting the cheap version, but it's late, and I gotta go to bed!)

  13. I love the game list. I have just recently come to the decision that My goal is for my children to not fear and hate math because My older 2 do! Also wanted to ask because I "taught" my 12 year old to read and my 7 year old is just beginning. What kind of game does Trev play that helped him learn sounds and how they go together?

  14. Thank you, thank you for sharing the list of games for math..... Gosh I struggle and worry about this and I just breathed a sigh of relief.

    All the things you share about the adventure you are on with your children inspire me to relax more and trust my boy!!!

  15. Danette -
    I knew early on that I didn't want to teach him the rules -ie phonics- of reading. That it would be a catastrophe.
    There are way too many contradictions and exceptions to the rules (and exceptions to the exceptions) for it to go smoothly!
    (think cough and through, though and rough...)
    Honestly, he's just learned by reading and being read to. If he comes to a word that he can't make sense of, or if he's reading next to me and doesn't get it right, I'll correct him.
    I think he knows what a word is the same way the rest of us know - that is, we recognize the word 'though', and would not call it 'thoff'. It just happened.
    Really - that's why the process was so incredible for me, because we never sat and did lessons, and it still happened.
    A beautiful thing to watch, really.

    We have lots of computer games - one that he has played over the years that we love is the JumpStart World series. We have preschool through second grade. Love those.

  16. I hope you know how seriously awesome I think you are. Love love the way you see what's really important in Life and you live it, together!

  17. perfect! We are loving our games right now. Can't wait to check out some of yours!

  18. I am so pleased to find you!

    My 5 year old can't read. Some think I should be concerned and some times, only occasionally the whispering voices get to me and I start to worry.

    Nice to know that it will happen when it's supposed to :)

  19. math in our house looks like that. games. puzzles. money. measuring. making. building. constructing. figuring. i'm astounded at how much math the boys have in their heads - how great they are at adding and subtracting and multiplying without or done a workbook. or had a class. they figure out money and measurements and distances and all kinds of things. blammo. in their heads. kids are amazing. i think it is the grown ups that have the problems with the math! ;)

    lots of fun!

  20. More than enough!
    Blessings and magic.

  21. Thanks for this games list and the recent link to a video clip about math. I just made myself a big huge wish list of games for when Lucy gets older; what a bunch of great ones here!

  22. I'm so glad you wrote this post. I'm always trying to find fun and interesting activities so that we can "play math". It's the schooly subject I worry about most (but wish I didn't). I'm going to check out this Bennet guy!


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!