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.
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