“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” -Henry David Thoreau
Donna left a comment mentioning she was reading Walden, Thoreau’s memoirs of his time living simply in a forest. I googled the book in question and Wikipedia had this wonderful quote straight from his book. I have ordered the book because I think I will enjoy his writing and experience immensely. This particular quote spoke to me about our home school. The idea of reaching the end of my life, be it in 1 year or 101 years and realising I had been merely existing, rather than truly living, hit me hard.
Living life in its fullest terms is stripping back the expectations of society until all you yourself hold dear is exposed. It is about pushing at the boundaries and discovering the treasures life has to offer. And the wonderful thing is for every person there awaits different treasures. We are not created to be the same, think the same or experience life the same. Instead we are made with incredible complexity. We are all born to be different.
For me, with regards to homeschooling, this stripping back applies to age related educational measures, standardized testing, the idea that one must know a certain thing by the time they are a certain age. I have been asking myself if these things actually matter to Gary and I? And if not, then what does? Right at the beginning of this series I alluded to the fact I had been surprised by my own assumptions and preconditioned ideas towards education and success. Since then I have been on a mission to really get down to the nitty-gritty of what matters to our family, rather than those around us. In doing so, it seems we will be taking the road less travelled, because we truly do believe it will make all the difference.
However, this journey we are about to embark on is really just an extension of the one we were already on. I see that now. The children have always had a huge say in what they learn and how they learn it. We have always had lots of fun in our times together. The reality of our home school is I have a billion and one ideas and the children join me along for the ride. I’m not so much a strewer of resources but a strewer of ideas.
So what will change? In essence nothing. The heart of our home school will remain the same. I will continue to strew ideas, whilst the children will attempt to rein me in until giving up entirely with the attitude of ‘if you can’t beat her, join her!’ and so they do, and we will go on the most wonder filled adventures together.
Piaget, renowned developmental psychologist said “When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.” And this is the line I want to draw. It is where the main change in our home school is to be found. From now on I will be doing no more school planning and no more teaching. I want the children to discover for themselves, and share what they are learning with me, and visa versa. They will have the freedom to look for, discover and then develop their God-given ‘bent’. To become the person they were designed to be. You see, I now know what is important to our family and it is not attached to any arbitrary learning goals handed to me by today’s government. No. The greatest gift Gary and I can give to our children is simple, affordable and easy to give. It is the gift of allowing them to be themselves.
As a family we have had many discussions about how our new fandangled learning will look. I’ll be sharing this soon, in what will be my final post in this series.