Monday, July 23, 2007

Deschooling Who?

I've been opening this blog, staring at the blank page and thinking about what to say for a few weeks now. As I have pondered it, many of my friends have started beautiful blogs on unschooling.

We are changing the path of our children's education to what I believe will accommodate the vision I have always had for them. We are unschooling. In theory, it is perfect, but in practice it is far from what feels comfortable to me. Some of our days exemplify through contrast what I do not want for us. I want the children to feel free to learn and explore their passions in an inspiring, happy, non-judgmental home. I wanted to start this blog when it was working out beautifully, when I had something great to share.....

My children have been deschooling for 3 months now, deschooling from homeschool that is. I have homeschooled son Keegan, 8, since May 2005, and daughter Quinn, 6, since June of 2006.

I have been bumping into thoughts lately that maybe it is I who needs the deschooling, and this morning an article, Deschooling for Parents, by Sandra Dodd came to me. She says, "The more quickly you empty your cup and open yourself up to new ideas uncritically, the sooner you will see natural learning blossom." I needed to hear that. She also said that "you'll see it when you believe it". Both of those ideas struck me today....

Yesterday, for most of the day I wouldn't believe it, so I didn't see it.... Sunday morning, my daughter woke up, came downstairs, shared some watermelon juice, conversation and some snuggles with me, then checked to see what the TV line up was for the day. She was elated to discover that there would be a Pokemon marathon, and I mean really elated, joyful, already planning the connection with her brother when he would finally wake to this miracle marathon. As she set herself up for the marathon, my husband, Jim, dove into the day long adventure of fixing our internet connection, and I puttered around, taking care of house, garden, animals. Keegan, who has decided he is part nocturnal(he explains it to me in ever increasing fractions, 1/4, 1/2), slept. Everyone was happy, inspired, content...... except me.

Around noon, I tried to wake Keegan. He was so cozy, enjoying his dreams, and getting even more excited about how nocturnal he is becoming. "What time is it?" he asks, "It's already noon-half the day is over!" I reply. "Wow, I made it till noon, I think I'll keep going." he tells me, so pleased with himself. I leave wondering how I could inspire him to get out of bed, what could be more inspiring to him than his journey to becoming fully nocturnal? And then I briefly considered why I needed to redirect his bliss.....Hmmm. About an hour later, Quinn tells me how fantastic this day is and how wonderful this Pokemon marathon is. She can't help but go tell K. She ran to tell him, and in no time he was downstairs as pumped as she was for the Pokemon marathon-also wishing he had known a few hours earlier. So that was it, a Pokemon marathon would be more inspiring than his quest to be nocturnal. The two of them were a picture of joyful, happy, cooperative, inspired learning, following their current passion, that they share-it really couldn't have been any better.....

Except I was feeling uninspired so... I thought their animals needed to be fed, K's piano practiced, their stuff picked up-because I wanted to clean right now, and they should be dressed, teeth brushed, they should also eat-at the table, and they could use some exercise today. And I mean it would be nice if they did something besides watch TV all day!(I can't beleive I still go there.) That's where I was by 3pm. So I started, little by little, "Could you pick this up? When are you going to do this?" They were very willing to accommodate me during commercials, but ..." I think the TV needs to go off until this is done..." I did it, I knew it was coming, and on this day, I chose to let it come. (Many days it never comes at all, and many days I do actually resist, center, and look at what is really going on here-my issue.) It got worse before it got better. The kids missed the last of the marathon-something that was incredibly important to them, K refused to eat dinner with us, Q tried to salvage the day, I felt like a failure.

When we were homeschooling, they had their sit down learning time, and then we said our verse about "All our doing now has ended, what I have learned will rest...". Then they were free to do whatever they want. Now, unschooling, schooling never starts so learning never stops. Now they are learning all day long. What if they waste the day that they could have been learning? What am I going to put in their box of work this year? How can I see what's going on in their heads? What if they watch a Pokemon marathon on TV all day? I know the answers. I have read books, magazines, articles on unschooling, and best of all, been a part of a Life Learner group for the last year. So why do I still choose to blow up exactly what I am trying to promote in our home, and leave us with everything I am trying to get away from? I can't totally attribute it to my own deschooling, but I think that as I learn to break out of my old mold of what constitutes learning, it should be easier to appreciate this style of natural learning, and where, when and how I "see" learning will change.

We ended up walking to the park. Q still tried to salvage the day by trying to make me smile, K was very angry, I don't think he could believe that I had sabotaged what should have been the best day of his life, K and Q were now fighting.

Then it occurred to me(And it really took that long.). This could have been a great day for all of us. We could have had a Pokemon Marathon Day. I could have made popcorn, we could have eaten in front of the TV, I could have sat down with them and enjoyed them pursuing their passion on this glorious day. I shared this thought with K.

It was a beautiful moment. His anger melted away, he reacted to me like I was an enlightened person. It was like I was welcomed to the club of getting it-getting how important this was to him, honoring his passion, allowing his learning, celebrating his learning! He started shouting P-O-K-E-M-O-N! I had this brief moment of wow, he can spell pokemon(still deschooling!), then I blew that away, and enjoyed the moment of connection with him, and happiness we all felt that he could pursue his passion without my limits.

We went home as quickly as we could, but the marathon was over. We all had our love and joy and understanding back. J and I watched the Peaceful Warrior, and the kids came in and out-they watched their shows in the other room, and traded Pokemon cards. We were all happy. I ended the day seeing it because I was back to believing it.

The article on deschooling for parents put on a few pages what I have been experiencing over the last few months. K and Q are already doing what they need to be-pursuing their passions, enjoying their life, learning. They seem to have already this wisdom about how to live happily and learn that I have lost touch with. K has been telling me for years, "I want to be free!" I have known for awhile that he needs to be unschooling-for much longer than we have been unschooling. My children are leading the way, and I am on my way to going with their flow.

As I was inspired by the Peaceful Warrior-I will live and write the moments. I am enjoying reading my unschooling friend's blogs, about how wonderful it can be, when you all get it! It is working out beautifully.


Darlene Navarre said...

I am so in love with what an inspiration you are for me, reminding me to let go and en joy the ride. I laughed, I cried and I am inspired to remember who we all are inside. . .spirits having a human experience and K knows this and forgives because we are all constantly learning.


Miranda said...

Found you, at last! Way to go, Rachel! I liked hearing this version of this day as much, if not more than, the one I heard in person.