I have on occassion been accussed of being stubborn! Most people who have a passing acquaintance with me will use words like "gentle, quiet, and calm" when describing me. And they would be right. Those words do accurately describe my character, but not all of it. I can be quietly (and sometimes not so quietly!) pig headedly stubborn. Those closest to me have seen the side I rarely reveal to the masses. I can doggedly hold my ground long after a more reasonable person would have stood down! My journey on the homeschooling road has been no different.
Many of you will relate to times in your life when the Holy Spirit, or someone close to you suggests you try something new, but you resist. Perhaps you have flirted with the new idea, played with it, tried it out briefly only to put it back on the shelf, where it can be mostly ignored until the next time the Holy Spirit, gently urges you to reconsider, and the whole dance begins again.
This is the relationship I have had with unschooling. I have always largely agreed with natural learning, but have never been able to let go and put it into practice. There have been times over that last six and a half years where I have decided that I would probably try unschooling. I held it in my hands for a little while, but put it back on the shelf before I ever really took the plunge. It has been there on the shelf calling to me where I have convienently ignored it.
It is currently fed up with my total lack of response, and has started rudely shouting at me to get attention, and for once I am really listening. I have taken it down from the top shelf and am determined to give it my full attention. I've wrapped it around me, and will not put it down.
Perhaps this isn't the best analagy, but I'll use it all the same! You get the idea.
This year feels like a turning point for us. I've come to some important conclusions about homeschooling and my relationship to it. When we started all those years ago I bought into the idea that homeschooling would magically mean my children would thrive academically. Haven't we all read the reports which sprout that home educated children score a year or two higher on academic testing, or some such generalisation? Well then, I reasoned, so would my children. After all I was passionate about learning. How could my children not excel with one on one mum time.
What I forgot was that my children would be exactly who they were created to be no matter how academic *I* wanted them to be. I am ashamed to say that it took me too long to give up my desire for them to be sitting around reading Tolkien all day!
Things have come to head in recent weeks in such a way that I need to act. One of our children is facing some huge challenges, and my dogged attachment to school type endeavours is only adding to his anxiety, and in turn to the anxiety of everyone in the family.
So here we go! Jumping off into unschooling. I've rejoined a few unschooling email groups, bought a few unschooling books and prayed a lot. I can't say that what we will be doing will be pure unschooling, but most of it will have that flavour. I'm not bothered by labels. We'll just be doing it, and not worrying what to call it!
In devouring Suzie Andres' book A Little Way of Homeschooling over the week end, I have come away with one word. Gentleness. That's what we all need around here.
The second reading at Mass today also really resonated with me:
You must give up your old way of life, you must put aside your old self. Ephesians 4:22
So most of the following posts will be my attempt to record and sort through the changes to our days.