Monday, July 26, 2010

The Way of It

Before I even began this post I was trying to figure out -for days- why I even wanted to write it in the first place.

I don't, right this minute, feel compelled to explain or sell Unschooling.
I don't feel that I have to justify anything to family or friends or The World At Large about the Whys or the Whats or the way we do things.
I don't feel sad -today, right this minute- that the children -people- of the world are suffering needlessly and tremendously in the way they are being educated or raised.
(Understand that these are oftentimes concerns of mine generally, just that I am not saddened and affected by them today.)

So why write about the Way at all?

Maybe it's just because there are a few folks who drop by here for a visit, to peek in to see what it looks like for us.
And maybe I just want to say that it looks like This, and it looks like This, and it even looks like This, too.

I wrote a list of things that we have on hand (surprisingly) for Trev as he moves into the next stage - into the stage of Mediumhood.  : )
We have loads of things for Littles for building and creating and sculpting and measuring and estimating-- but what do we have for the next step??
Thus, the list.
To remind myself that the answer is "Quite Enough".
Well enough.
That we do, we have, and we are - Enough.

A couple of weeks or so ago -around the time that I started that list I mentioned- I tracked down (and it took some work to find it, as I hadn't done so in two or three years  : )  ) our local "this is what all children should know" list according to our state laws and core curriculum.
My intent was not out of any fear, you must understand-- but more of a "are there some things that I am blindly neglecting, and that are important?"
"Things that are simply just not on my "radar"?"
"Are there some good ideas that I'm not considering?"

I don't cotton with grades, and it's probably pretty apparent (I hope -wicked grin) that I don't have much respect for the status quo.
I don't play and learn with my children out of a sense of fear or ego (pray God), but rather for the Joy of the thing, and to be a good Mama and to provide them with tools that I think will be helpful in developing their greatest selves, and their personal Truth.

So -
what does The State say?
I realize I'm meandering and walking slowly and weaving - but bear with me - this is the way my ordinary conversations in my life go, too-- be thankful we're not talking lying on the grass or on the telephone ; ) -
Putting aside the fact that I don't put much stock into formal education (be that private or public schooling), and that I take to the ideas of John Taylor Gatto, John Holt, David Albert, Naomi Aldort, et al, and that I feel that public school is a moot point as well as the need being obsolete,
what I read upon the State's Pages...
leaves me nothing but feeling content and comfortable and Knowing.

A year or more ago I had a pocketful of money, and was looking for Juice, so I went into a local teacher's/educator's shop.
I walked around, picked things up, read the back.... picked up shiny, slick workbooks, lesson type notes, looked through games, beads... you know the stuff.
I walked out without buying anything.
We can just dig in the garden, instead, I thought.
I could make this, myself.
Why buy this when we can use real money?
But - they (my children) already ARE in possession of fabulous vocabularies.
But - we don't need a list of directions... we already know how to do this. 
And so it went.

It was much the same at the state's site.

I must admit that I had a tiny moment of fear as I first checked in - like I was being judged for my competency, and even more painful - that my children were going to be judged and be found lacking in their intelligence.
Mmmm, No.

It didn't happen.

Now certainly I give a certain amount of credit to their inherent intelligence -
for instance, Maddie doesn't know all of her letters.  I'm not worried that she never will.

Trev doesn't write - as in penmanship.
It doesn't concern me.

They are not familiar with terms and words such as Conjunctive and Phonological Awareness and Syllabication and Digraphs.... but somehow we manage to muddle through.  [rolls eyes.]

Science, for 4th grade, looks like weather and the water cycle and forms of water and soil and rocks and fossils.
; )

Social studies looks like our state and its ecologic conditions.
Just as if we didn't know -by personal experience- what our state is made of.

There is dance.
And Art.
and Phys Ed.

There is Library Media - this is the Wikipedia Kid, remember-

and there is Mathematics.
?? - Not so worried that it's fretful with this one -
We play Hex.  And Carmen Sandiego Math Detective.  And Math 1-2.  And with cuisenaire rods. And Blokus.  And Qwirkle.
And we measure things with the scale.
And cook.
And suppose
and estimate
and conjecture
and think
and process.
We don't do long division or too much multiplication, yet - but it's not a concern and put anywhere near the "Never Will" list.

So was there anything?
Any cause for concern,
any ideas,
any "uh-oh"'s?

Well - upon reading that list, I did get the idea of putting together a bunch of materials for making a story with sound effects -
locks, water noises, animal noises, roars, steps upon the earth, growls...
and then yesterday morning Trev mentioned that he'd like to create a film with sound effects.
A prehistoric film.
My camera, his imagination.

: )
What can I say?

We play
and Discover
and Imagine
and find out
and wonder
and think
and suppose.

We use all of the things around us, near us, and offered to us to do so.
I cannot and will not apologize for that.

And I certainly shall not say that it isn't enough.

And now I really must go swim with my family, and then get ready for the African music and dance concert.
We'll see you in a few hours with today's Doings.

Love and Joy, friends.


  1. Thank you for your posts like this. It's real work muddling through my own deschooling (as they call it, I guess) so that I can let the Elf get on with the business of living.

    I've let go a lot (and am doing the best that I can on letting go further). He's happier and still learning all on his terms. Now my only big concerns are the pesky state laws of how to prove that he's learning every year. Ugh.

  2. Yes, it is true that everybody sees teaching their children all in their own way, and fortunately in this country (so far, at least) we can pretty much do as we wish. I am sorry if others have given you a hard time for your way, and likewise I hope you realize that your way is not the way for everyone. It is enough for that your creative and intelligent family, and that is good. That is all you need to know.

  3. I love the puh-leez. So funny. I'm liking this post muchly. Oi, the state standards.

    You know, I'm "homeschooling" under PA's private tutor I don't have to make Benjamin take the standardized tests, nor do I have to hire an "evaluator" or hand in a "portfolio."

    Even though we're fortunate enough to be flying under the radar, I still feel like I should every so often take a peek at the standards-just to have my ducks in a row. Ya never know...the state might think of somethin' great that I forgot! LOL

  4. The science standards do seem to be a joke, don't they? I was so glad to see your link to the trebuchet video. Larkin wants to learn about weapons, and I was kind of at a loss - not exactly my field. Thanks!

  5. And this is why I love you.


  6. Loves to you, too, Friend Sarah.

  7. Eidolons -
    I wonder, sometimes, what I would do if my hs laws were different. I suspect my attitude would be much the same as it is now. :)
    I hope, anyway.

    Phyllis -
    No one has ever confronted me with a condemnation. If I ever were, I'm sure I would go through a gamut of emotions - hurt, anger, bluster, rebellion, self-righteousness...
    :) all of those lovely ego-related things.
    oof. Let's put that one off for a few lifetimes.

    Did I come across as doubtful? I'm not. I believe in the way I am raising my children a million thousand percent. If I were not, I would change it.
    I'm just in a more "neutral" space today - not feeling particularly passionate about Life and Liberty and the need for absolute freedom that I usually feel. :). Maybe I'm having a laid back day. Or maybe I'm tired or lazy or apathetic. ;) I'm just not interested in judging anyone or anything as superior or inferior at this particular time.

    Jess -
    Might have a good idea, indeed. :)
    That was my main thinking, I think.
    "Well... it could happen," I told myself.
    Maybe it happened while I wasn't looking.
    Turns out that it didn't.

    Sarah in Woods -
    I'm fascinated with our catapult - I fully supposed that it would come equipped with an elastic for flinging power - turns out that it's a medieval design, and it's a matter of wound rope. So cool!!
    Not the weaponry we're interested in so much, but the physics.

    Great feedback, friends.
    Loving it.

  8. I think the need to check in and make sure we feel we are still on the right path can come in many ways and looking at how others do it and wondering if it is "better" or if we are missing something by not doing things the same is natural. constantly reassessing and adding or changing as needed.

    Your children's lives are so much fuller and realler than the PS options and it is what you figured out upon assessing. i'd call that a successful assessment. :D

  9. I believe you raise your kids a million thousandth percent, too. :) You go above and beyond when it comes to engaging and being engaged with your kiddos, and I'm not the least surprised that the state standards gave you no concern.

    I don't always feel like I'm able to give quite that much above 100 percent. ;) But I still feel like my kids are getting what they need, and I know that's way more than they'd get in school.

    I love that our firstborns have so much in common. :) Your latest List rocks!

  10. No doubt, the hoops one has to jump through can color how one does this (sadly). This is why Texas is such a popular homeschooling state. And why many. many homeschoolers have a "shield of curricula" if you will, to deflect criticism and question (not that we can't handle it - just that we can't be bothered with their junk and holding a shield up to deflect it is easier)- and often that shield is a smoke screen (does that make sense?).

    Anyway, brilliant post, as always, and may the joy continue - Stephanie style, with no interference!

  11. Love this post... cause I do this too - check in with my heart and my head.

    I always giggle when I see what the schools science curriculum is for Owen's age - we are so well past all that.

    My real moments of clarity come when Owen announces that he has figured something out, himself and is sure and proud of his work. Like figuring out his own way to add, or suddenly recognizing the patterns in time, hours, minutes.


  12. my mind is whirling around these things too - feeling a need to organize and prepare, for...???? checking in, getting ready for evaluation - all good things to think about but i am coming to the same realization that we don't need More, we have more than Enough, and the juice is usually free and abundant (and outside!) and with presence and stamina and joy we are way ahead of the "standards" (not that i don't do the same durn thing...). YAHOOO!

  13. Great post, I never home schooled my children,but I feel with you the need to recognize that what you do is quite enough,learning is living, and you do that wonderfully with your family. love and light Marie

  14. Really love this, and definitely, definitely, definitely enough.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!