Wild Beyond Wild, Calm Within Calm

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We have been Home Schooling for a bit now, and there have been good days and struggling days. My Ben is so much like me that we can butt heads. We are learning how to work together for mutual benefit.

In the process of beginning Home Schooling, I let the Homestead fall to the wayside. I started buying packaged foods because I didn’t have time to make food. Something about that seemed like a loss.

As I look at the Tao for my weekly dose of Community Discussion on that topic (over at Tao Te Ching Daily), I find I am more drained and unsure than ever. What am I doing here? I have lost my way. (These are all sections of Chapter 38 of the Tao te Ching)

“The Master does nothing,

yet he leaves nothing undone.

The ordinary man is always doing things,

yet many more are left to be done”

That would be me – doing and doing and doing, and trying to pack knowledge into Ben and more and more and more is being left undone.

Stop.

We live on a farm. There is so much to learn here about life and the cycle of life, the seasons, the planting and growing and harvesting, preserving, setting aside for later, living off what we have or make, bounty, wide open spaces, climbing trees, and building forts. This is what we focus on, and this is where we learn.

I am exploring Unschooling as a real option. My kids are curious. They always have questions. I want to go toward their curiosities, and not have to tell them those questions don’t fit into our lesson plan. Life is education. Life is about learning and making mistakes and learning from them and trying again.

This is not easy to talk about because there are people who will think we’ve fallen off the face of the planet, that we are now raising wolves… well… we are in a way (see here, here and here). This is outside of the mold, and I know that. I like to be able to check off little boxes, so this will take some getting used to for me. However, this is the way my children learn best – by going off on little tangents of curiosity and delving into a subject, and reading up on it, or scouring the internet for ideas and answers to their questions. We are going to learn together, and play together, and build and design and do art, and raise animals and feed ourselves.

We have our first Music Lessons tonight, and we’ll probably look at 4H or Future Farmers or something like that for some group activities.

My mind is full of hope and joy right now.

“When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.

When goodness is lost, there is morality.

When morality is lost, there is ritual.

Ritual is the husk of true faith,

the beginning of chaos.”

I do not know what that means. Somehow, I am seeing that I enjoy ritual, and perhaps it is because I have lost my center. I am skirting the edges of chaos on a daily basis, and trying to bring ritual in as a way to save us. Perhaps there is something deeper. There are several more layers up that I need to go. I am clinging on to the lowest rungs on the ladder.

“Therefore the Master concerns himself

with the depths and not the surface,

with the fruit and not the flower.

He has no will of his own.

He dwells in reality,

and lets all illusions go.”

In my desire to educate my children, I do not want to look at just the surface – the test scores, and whether they know dates and random names from History – I want to look at the depths – do they understand kindness and justice and respect?

There have always been revolutions. Why have people been revolting? That is a question worth asking and looking at and we will delve in to see history through the lens of art, and through the lens of rebels and wild men, of people seeking a better life for themselves, of sages seeking sanctuary. We will explore dance through the ages, and inventions through the ages, building projects and design conundrums – because these are the things that interest my boys. I think we will learn plenty. With joy.

I am letting go of the illusions that I know what they need, or that the education system knows what they need or will need in 20 years. The world is going to be more different than we can fathom. Kids that learn to figure things out on their own will thrive.

This may be the direction I have always wanted to go – the Little House on the Prairie sort of learning style – reading as a family and working together and figuring stuff out as we go.

photo from here

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Love this post. I like when parents express their doubts and vulnerabilities. Your goal of making learning an exploration is right up my alley. That goes along with my philosophy. If you have a minute to explore my blog, studentleadlearning.com I would love to hear what you think. A lot of posts are learning through exploration and the farm environment would be perfect for a lot of the lessons I have posted.

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      Thank you for stopping by and I am definitely keeping your blog in my reading list. Looks great so far!

      Like

  2. Deidre says:

    I cringed when I read you’ve been buying prepackaged food when you live on a farm. Not that I in anyway judge, it’s that I’ve done just that. I could have made my yogurt, butter cheese, bread, but instead I bought it all. Time is something that seems to move at a pace I can’t keep up with. So I buy them and when I serve them to my family all it does is remind me of what I’m missing. It’s not a good feeling and I felt it again for just a moment.

    I have loved each and every post I’ve read so far. You lead with your struggles followed by not just an emotional conversation, but a deeper look into why you and your family make the choices you do. I always seem to feel, experience and learn something. Thank you.

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      Your kind words have been an inspiration to me all week. Thank you for helping me value that I lead with a struggle, follow with an emotional conversation and a deeper look into why we make the choices we do. That wording has been a little mantra for me this week. Thank you so much! (Oh – and this week, I kicked the prepackaged kick I’d been on. I’m cooking again – the long way!)

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  3. Amy Putkonen says:

    Thanks for the mention, Liesl! 🙂

    I love what you are doing with your kids. I just got back into education – I am the tech support at a school, so I am studying up on all the latest innovations in education. It’s amazing.

    Have you looked at 21st Century Skills? This program has been around for a while but is very popular. It is very rich in the way that it has children using their minds more. The old way of multiple choice testing for knowledge, in my opinion, is on its way out. It takes a long time to change the system, but they are finding that it isn’t holding up to the international levels of where kids are at around the world.

    You can create rubrics for them to learn things on the farm. I just found a site the other day that gave sample rubrics for each of the main subject areas as examples for different grade levels. Teachers are sometimes having kids create the rubrics themselves to help them to guide their own learning. It’s some pretty awesome stuff. I can totally see that being used in homeschooling. One thing that is so cool about homeschooling is that it is so adaptable. You aren’t tied to the traditions of the school, the district or what the other teachers are doing. You get to be creative and do your own thing.

    You may already know all this stuff (I have been out of education for a while), but just wanted to throw my two cents out there! 🙂 Hope it helps. Let me know if you want me to email you any cool links that I find.

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    1. Liesl Garner says:

      Thank you. Now I have to go look up rubrics so I can figure out what we’re doing. I’ve heard it before, I just don’t entirely understand it, and I think it would help us set our goals.

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