Saturday, October 29, 2011
So... what? : Unschooling
Evidently it's time again for one of those, "So what do you do?" posts again. I'm not feeling particularly philosophical or intuitive or spiritual about it (read: mushy), and I'm not feeling the need for justification... just maybe an explanation of the ideas and thoughts behind the Play of our everydays.
I was thinking yesterday as Trev was reading and playing Godzilla that his play was just as valuable to me as anything else he could be doing.
Some people might not understand that. Anything that he's learning isn't obviously valuable or tangible, after all.
He may not even be learning anything at all! And I have absolutely no problem with that.
He's using his imagination.
He's exploring his knowledge of facts and figures that he's collected inside his head, making up stories (or repeating them in whatever accurate way he may choose, according to his research), creating, expressing, and being comfortable with who he is and his interests.
But would this do for every minute of every day?
And what's my job, then?
My job is to make sure that things stay interesting.
My job is to assess my own personal needs, to present them to the family, and see if they'll come along. And yes, I say Needs, for they are sometimes mad cravings that I get, and it feels imperative to Living. I need to get into the woods! I need a big adventure! Can we go exploring?, I need to tromp around and do something really, really cool! Like visit a real-life paleontology site. Or a ghost town - I get those pretty often. Or even a favorite museum.
My job is to make sure that everyone else is getting their needs met, as well. And to help them figure out why and what those needs are.
My job is to pay keen attention to what the babes are up to (over all, not invading their every minute), and to make sure they're thriving.
Thriving is definitely the objective of this way of life.
So. Does thriving happen on its own?
Not really. Not consistently and always, without being inspired or prompted. (I do not mean being forced or coerced, but mean inspiring things like season changes, karate classes, play with friends, going Out, a new game, library visits...)
Can't sitting-at-the-table lessons ensure thriving? Sure, for whomever that works. If parents and children feel so happy in their studies that they're ready to spin off the planet, or if in study they find immense satisfaction and great personal purpose. (And I mean sincere personal purpose, here, as in "this feeds my soul", not "this feeds my need to make my children seem superior" or "this feeds my need to have an Honor Role bumper sticker on my car for the sake of my own ego." Although, even those are among your choices, if you choose to live life that way.)
The way to best see it happening in my own home is to just make sure my children are lively and interested. Interested in life--curious about the world, and the way it works. As I've said many times: thinking, discovering, exploring, and creating.
So isn't constant Play (even playing with the Godzilla collection -however impressive and grand :) ) a worry? Harmful?
Well- that's the thing. It isn't. Because thriving is the goal, remember? And I'm paying attention. Assessing. Evaluating. Asking questions. Checking in.
But doesn't Play just take over? Doesn't watching television take over? Doesn't computer play Take Over?!?
No. It doesn't. Because there are lots of other things to do.
Here's the thing-- when life is interesting, we have lots of interesting options. And we have lots of interests. True, sometimes a particular theme will run the show for a while. But not forever. And not solely, which we'll notice if we keep our eyes wide open to all the other things that are actually going on while The One Thing is happening.
The dreaded and be-damned Screen Time is a huge worry for a lot of people. But -amazingly!!- some of us don't limit screen time. At all. AND we still play outside. AND we take walks in the woods. AND we play math games and watch math videos (Khan!), and we read The Wind In the Willows and Little House and poetry, and we attend performances at the children's theater on occasion, and we visit museums and we paint and do science experiments and take the dog for a walk and go roller-skating and play at the beach and sculpt with clay and we have conversations about politics, cultures, life and death and God.
I am not saying that people should live their lives as we do. Hardly. This family of mine are the only ones that can or should live this life we're living. (Though some look similar to ours, certainly.)
I'm just laying out plainly a few Things I Know For Sure.
That I'm pretty good at ensuring our minds, bodies, and hearts are in good working order: ie healthful energy flowing into and out of them.
Things like Imaginations make me happy.
Like that I feel quite comfortable in both, equally, the roles of Leading and Following. (And sometimes even stayin' put. :) )
That seeking Joy, genuinely and authentically, goes a long way toward ensuring that the souls in this family are doing well.
And like that I can be trusted (trusted by my Self) to pay attention to my children, to make sure they thrive.
So that's what I do--what we do.
We make shiny, happy people.
And we play.
Posted by Stephanie at 10:50 AM