Saturday, June 04, 2005

Letting children learn

So much of home education for the parent is learning to let go and let
the learning happen. This is what I call the parent's deschooling
process. Learning to let go of our own assumptions of what education
entails - school, rote learning, assignments, testing, etc and also
letting go of the inner voice that tries to get us to abide by societal
norms, whether they be right or healthy for us or our families.

Here is a quote from an email I got from Beverley Paine recently which describes
this process better than I can:

"Ask yourself 'why do I want them to learn or do this?' often - and
don't restrict this to the obvious educational lessons in life. I
questioned things like cleaning teeth three times and day and why
children should wear shoes... I continually test my assumptions by
imagining if I'd do and think the same thing if I lived in a different
era, place, culture or as a different person. My beliefs and attitudes
are forever being adjusted in the light of my new understandings.

Homeschooling life became a lot easier for all of us when I learned to
recognise those imperatives that came from MY head and heart. Most of my
earlier educational goals were based on what I thought people wanted me
to do, what I thought was expected of me, as well as my fears that
people would think I wasn't good enough as a mother or educator if I
didn't live up to these expectations (which were guided by the parenting
I had as a child, as well as the onslaught of messages from a
hyperactive consumeristic media!) My homeschooling learning programs
weren't centred, they weren't grounded in what each of my children
needed to learn next in their lives, based on who they were, but on what
society said they should be, and what I should be... and what I needed
to own to get there...

Once I slowed down and stopped rushing in to satisfy those unknown
others, or the nagging critic in my head, I had time to watch and listen
to my children - as they played, as they talked to each other and to me,
as they worked. I was surprised by how much 'work' my children did each
day. I used to think that they played all day, but when I stopped trying
to organise their time so much I saw that much of their play taught them
the very lessons I'd spend hours preparing! Learning, play and work soon
became inseparable. For children, learning is invisible. It's a pity we
make it visible - that only leads to confusion. "

Home Education is very much a lifestyle choice, not just an educational
choice.