Homeschooling/unschooling

I feel like our home schooling is changing….

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about it.  I’ve been reading a lot about unschooling lately.  I also had an interesting conversation with a family friend who home schooled her two children.  They are both now studying engineering at UF, and are doing very well.

We have, for the past three years, done Waldorf-inspired homeschooling based on the Christopherous curriculum.  I was mostly driven to use it by Clothilde arriving to our family.  I like some things about Waldorf.  I like the use of stories, the nature, the celebrations of the seasons.  I like the handwork and art.  Some of the things felt natural to me – such as drawing pictures with writing practice.

(When I was in first grade, I began to draw pictures for words I couldn’t spell on my assignments.  My teacher quickly put a stop to that.  She said she wanted me to learn to spell the words instead of drawing them.  I asked what I should do if I couldn’t spell it, she said, “Sound it out.”  I asked if I could still draw the pictures as long as I also tried to write the word, and she said no.  I asked why.  I thought the pictures were pretty.  I thought my teacher would enjoy them.  She said, very sharply, “Because this isn’t art class.”  I never, for so long, understood the sharpness in her voice when she said this.  A few years ago, I talked with a Kindergarten teacher.  She said the children these days shocked her at how disrespectful they were.  An example – a little boy was not coloring in the black-and-white outline picture as he had been told to do.  She asked him why, and he said he didn’t feel like coloring it in.  He didn’t like the picture.  So then I understood – my teacher thought I was “disrespectful” because I wasn’t doing her assignment as she wanted me to.  It was different.  It was creative.  It wasn’t supposed to be creative or different.  It was supposed to look like everyone else’s.  I think the teachers who think the most, feel the most, of the students’ supposed “disrespect” are probably the guiltiest of disrespecting those children, their time, their education, their inherent intelligence and creativity.)

As I have learned more about Waldorf education and Anthroposophy, I find conflicts of philosophy.  A lot of it is based on the Middle Eastern myth of Adam and Eve (and the other stories in Genesis).  While I was just delving into that part of it and trying to maintain an open mind, I also picked up an amazing book on human evolution – Descent of Woman by Elaine Morgan.  It was a life-changing moment, the moment I picked it up and began reading.  It begins with the Adam and Eve myth, and how the untruth of that myth has shaped our ideas of human evolution, despite there being a good pile of solid evidence to the contrary.  Myths, while they contain beautiful images and metaphorical truths, should not be confused with the Truth, the hard truth, of Nature.  But Rudolf’s Steiner’s teachings are based on the myth of Adam and Eve (and other myths) as though it is hard, true, real truth.

I have found that I have a problem with that.  Because I see the folly and damage, in our culture, and in much of the philosophies of our major religions – and even of modern spirituality, of ignoring Truth, of ignoring Nature – like denying Climate Change, or our culture’s negative impact.  Like Moses’s laws to not plant two different kinds of plants in the same field.  That kind of forbidden agriculture could save the world.  Like in The Secret – “Just don’t think negative thoughts and it will all go away and become positive and happy.” No.  It doesn’t just go away.  It gets worse.  And worse. The observable Truth of nature is important – nay, vital.

And not only that, I have noticed an inflexibility in myself with such a system (the German influence?).  While talking with my friend about how she homeschooled her now grown children, I felt my world open up a little.  I began to soften my dogmatic educational ideas.

So we are in a little transition of sorts.  There are many ways to learn, and my two older children have vastly different ways of thinking and learning.

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