Saturday, November 26, 2005

Adam's task

I find myself on a regular basis up very late at night searching endlessly through various homeschooling boards and websites. What am I looking for? Support and encouragement, to be sure, but it is often something else. Why am I constantly reading and re-reading other families homeschooling philosophies? Other people's methods. Definitions of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Living Books, Real Learning, Unschooling, School-at-home, Relaxed homeschooling, unit studies, lapbooking, notebooking, Classical, Montessori, eclectic homeschooling...yadda yadda yadda.
I think I am on a quest to name what it is we do here in our little corner of the homeschooling jungle. Why? I'm not sure. But I am not the only one. I see it over and over again in the threads I visit. Mothers batting back and forth descriptions of what they do, asking each other "Is this unschooling? Is this what is meant by a unit study?" I think it must be inherent in human nature to want to put a name on things-to define everything in terms of a single label. Adam's task.
Also, I sometimes think if I could just settle on a pre-determined label then it would take away some of the worry and work. If I could just say"Oh, we use the Classical method," then I wouldn't have to do the constant re-evaluation, checking, tweaking, seeking that I do to match my child's interests and talents to our lifestyle of learning. I could just go with what has already been laid down for me. Simple.
Problem is...none of the labels seem to fit. And I am the last one to settle for a poor fit. We are too relaxed to be Charlotte Mason, too structured to be unschoolers. We read living books, but also do some workbooks. We like some classics, but are no where near classical. I try to link things together thematically, but not in an organized unit-study. We do hands on...most of the time. We are often delight-directed, but Mom doesn't give over the reins completely. I guess the label "eclectic" fits us best, but that feels like just a cop-out, defining us as having no real definition. That doesn't feel good to me. After all, I really LIKE what we do. There MUST be a name for it because it is just too good to remain nameless. But it is so very much a part of who my son and I are, I can't imagine it fitting into some generic category. It is who we are, how we learn, the way we live. It is US defined.
I guess I have a label after all... "Us-schooling"


barb said...

For our family we call it "living as a family". Like you we use so many different things. I take what works for us from everywhere and leave behind any parts that don't. When we first started people ask how in the world did we do this thing called homeschooling. I was not very knowledgable at the time about all the philosophies and curriculums. I would answer, "Well, we are living as a family just as we have always done. Learning new things, reading together, taking walks, field trips, watching shows etc. This is the way we lived and I felt no reason to change that because we now included this new thing called "homeschooling". As I looked more closely I realized this new thing had always been a part of our lives so it wasn't so new after all :)

What I find amazing is our constant questioning of, "Am I doing it right?" My own blog title says it all for us. There is NO right way but for us there is the "Wright" way because that is our family name and it "fits" us.

Taking on the responsibility of educating our children can feel like a daunting task only because for so long we have been told that we need to leave it to the "professionals". We don't question ourselves -well at least most of the time :) - when it comes to raising our family. We have "taught" our children how to walk and talk, potty trained them, taught them manners and so many other things that we look on as our natural job as parents. We ask for advice of course at times but ultimately we realize only we know what is right for our family. It amazes me then that we so often question our abilities in this other area of "teaching" them. It can be and really should be a natural extension of what defines your family. Advice is great but ultimately the choice has to be one that fits for you and your family.

GREAT topic Theresa!

Theresa said...

Thanks, Barb. You are right. I never let anyone tell me how to raise my children when it comes to any other aspect of their development, why should I question my instincts when it comes to writing, math, and science, etc? No one knows my children as well as I do and no one has their best interests more at heart. I am becoming more comfortable and confident in that as the homeschooling years roll by. It is good to hear from another Mom who feels the same way. Thanks for the affirmation!