Monday, January 29, 2007

To Strew Textbooks or Moonsand?

Did I say that I've totally flailed in the strewing department lately? It's like I've been on a parenting leave-of- absence!
I'm not sure why that is, other than maybe the holidays are busy, and then after that I was sort of pursuing my own interests, and trying to fix some things rattling around, kicking up dust and rust in my head.
I was reading posts here from September, when I really was doing a fine job at strewing lots of great things. For some reason I felt guilt about it, like I was doing it wrong. Maybe I had a couple of moments of seeming coersion, I dunno. I don't think so, though. Maybe I was just worrying that other ruers would think our learning to read at four and five instead of later was coersive. Maybe it was because I was just starting to be really good at it (strewing), and was actively doing it, instead of letting the children take the lead. I think that's probably most of it. Previously I had let them lead, but when we got into a lull, I took the lead, (inviting them to join in) and that felt really different.
Now we're in another lull, and it's time to take the reigns again! I actually really enjoy getting those particular juices flowing. It's fun to me to come up with new ways of doing things, or bringing up some subject into which we have yet to dip our toes.
Oddly enough, it really helps when I keep up on the blogs, it keeps me tuned in to what we really are learning and exploring every day. It helps me to recognize the moments of learning.

I've actually been encouraged reading other unschoolers' posts and blogs, reading about learning to write, read, count, etc. I've also decided that it's quite acceptable to bring things that may bear a slight resemblance to the dreaded textbooks to the table. It's just as acceptable for me to bring up something I'm interested in, as it is for my children to express an interest in the things they do. What I mean is, I'm finally beginning to find a balance in this way of life - unschooling and respectful parenting. Throw biology books in the cabinet. Check out some biographies suitable for young readers from the library. Choose Discovery Channel when it's my turn to watch. Sometimes when asked "Does this look interesting to you?" the answer will be an automatic "uh, not really!" (since it has no resemblance to dinosaurs or scooby doo) but I'm learning that it might be just the ticket to get it anyway, and to watch, read, play with it, and if no one else is interested, that's fine. If others join in, then great!, I have company. We might even be swept away wondrously to some new, enchanting place.

The line for me is becoming more and more clear, between manipulation and leading. Leading (and by that I mean strewing) is to me, what I just described. It's being unattached to the outcome. Manipulating is trying to get something to go your way, and then being perturbed when it doesn't pan out how one had intended, and then perhaps still trying to get things to go a certain way.
I'm finding that it has a lot to do with my feelings about the subject. Not in an analytical and justifiable sort of way, but if the doing of it makes me feel crappy, or free. (like when I tell Trev "no" about something, because I am experiencing fear about what will come of it - too much cartoon planet, too much candy, etc. When I do that I feel tense, angry, and controlling. Altogether a very crappy feeling!) Tuning in and paying attention to my words and thoughts/feelings about it.
This seems to be the lesson of late, for me, go within often, listen, and be mindful.

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