Friday, February 09, 2007

Evolution Part III

"Heroes are never followers.... they're either raised Free, or they break the strain." Naomi Aldort

I think my new answer to questions such as "But if you raise your children to be free, how will they get along with others, and how will they deal with The Real World?"
Is going to be "My children will most likely not be satisfied being followers, just as I am not, they'll want to blaze a new trail." or "My children are not satisfied with being followers, they are leaders. At least of their own lives."
Which is all true. I can see it already. Just as I'm sure it's in all children, until it is driven from them. I don't suppose my children with their ingenuity and free spirits and love for life are the exception. I figure they are good examples of what all children are like.... but how I foster them, how they are treated.... as if they are respectable rulers of their own lives will enable them to see that they have the tools, wit, and power to bring into their lives all that they desire. Instead of just saying to my children (as I was told, but never believed) "You can be anything you want to be" I will have actually (indirectly) caused them to believe it, as they have already proven it to themselves over and over again.

I'm adding this post to Evolution because I've managed to make another shift just in the last day or so.

I'll start by saying that I've been going back and forth with the cartoon network thing, it has caused me some distress and concern. I considered going to Always Unschooled (a huge international group) to hash it out, and get insight from them, but after consideration I knew that what I needed to do (as is so often the case) is to put my concerns to Trevelyn, and see what he said about it.
I started worrying about it again because Naomi Aldort said something about children's brains developing, and how television is so fast-paced that it makes it difficult for children to be entertained by other things.
Now while I completely respect her opinion, and I think this might be true for a lot of people, I'm taking it as counsel, but being guided by my own insight as well.
However, I do believe that the early years are of the utmost importance for development, and I want to provide my children with the healthiest environment possible.
So I went downstairs where Trev was sleeping (we slept downstairs last night) and told him about what I had learned. That a child's brain development was really fast at this age, and that I was concerned that watching CN for 100 hours a day was detrimental to its productivity.
I asked him what he thought about that, and he said "not good" So I said "I don't have a problem with tv in general, I know you get much enjoyment out of Magic School Bus and dinosaur shows and Animal Planet (he's fascinated with animals and biology in general, and gets much enjoyment and information from these shows) and I don't want to take that away from you, but how about we limit how much CN you watch? How about everytime you're a bit bored, I'll try to come up with lots of ideas of fun things to do." He was satisfied with that solution.
He watched Scooby Doo for a half hour today, and I came up and said "How about when Scooby Doo is over we find something fun to do?" And he said "Okay", and we headed outside to play on the swingset for a while.
He went back to the tv a while later, and I gently reminded him of our discussion (I was careful not to be accusing or judging) and asked him if he wanted me to bring up the microscope and some slides, or if he wanted to look at the creatures in the blocks with the microscope or with the magnifying glass, of if he wanted to play with legos or Lincoln Logs, and he said he wanted to look at the blocks with a magnifying glass and build with Lincoln Logs. So we brought up the stuff from downstairs, and everyone played happily for a long time.
I think in the future it won't be necessary for me to come up with suggestions, but for now he's sort of stumped, and he is a creature of habit, so he is not coming up on his own with lots of ideas. I will of course be a temporary inspiration when my children are in need of it!

I am wondering if they're coming down with something, Maddie was really clingy yesterday, not like her, and Trev is sorta moody and easily frustrated today.
I am happy to report that I did not lose my cool, even when he threw Maddie's peanut butter sandwich remnants out of the kitchen because he either sat on it or stepped on it, not sure which. I didn't even scold him, usually I would have at least said "hey, that's not cool", or whatever. I just picked it up and put it in the garbage, and it was shortly forgotten.
I was thinking at the time how some would say "that's just encouraging him to misbehave in the future" or whatever, but it's just not true. My children have already experienced enough freedom and repect that they just are not inclined to just be destructive out of hand.
I'm not saying that being destructive has no place, there are lots of people who like to watch buildings be dynamited and felled, or watch cars get smashed by the big things in a junkyard, and so forth. And to experiment with breaking and destroying can certainly be fun, I only mean that he's not likely to destroy something that's important to me because it's important to me. If he were, I would take that cue and find out what was going on with him that he was so angry about.

Another huge step that I've made very recently is the one on Trust. I was telling Eric it's like I've been practicing RU all along, but I've done it anxiously and hedgingly, not with my whole heart and soul. Listening to Naomi the last few days has convinced my doubting head that it's the right thing to do -not only the right thing to do- but the most beneficial for my children's learning. My heart already knew it, but my head is that of a school kid, and my head has to deal with parents and neighbors and fellow homeschoolers and society in general.
Here are a few pertinent conclusions I've come to.
It's perfectly fine with me if because my children are raised in freedom they grow up to be unsatisfied to be 'worker bees', or "sheeple" as they are often referred to in unschooling circles. The world is not lacking for such people.
My children will learn to be respectful to others by being raised in a home where they are respected.
To the observation "I'm thankful my mother made me do xxx, without that I wouldn't be who I am today," I ask "Where/what might you be instead if you were unlimited?"

Something else that has been brought to my attention - and that's patronization. Which I am totally guilty of in my deschooling and learning to parent unconditionally process.
Previously I had thought that the right approach to any and all interests was to drop everything (in eagerness) in order to feed the inquiring mind, but I have since learned that it is patronizing. For example, if Eric wanted to know something from one of my books and I was so happy that he was curious about it that I dropped everything, and went to him gushing and rushing, it would have made a much bigger deal out of it than was necessary. It would probably embarrass him, and certainly make him uncomfortable.
If my son asks me "where do giant tortoises live?" and I say "Let's rush out to the library and get a book on the Galapogas Islands", I very well might kill the desire to learn, as I'd be force-feeding him (patronizing). It will depend, of course. It depends on if it's a 'passing interest', or one more serious than that. Just as if Eric asked "What was that you quoted me last night from that book?" and instead I hand him the book, and say, "Oh, here! I'm so glad you're interested, there are many other tasty tidbits in there, too!" Not what he was looking for. Give them the credit to know their own minds, and know what is interesting to them. And not.

One last note regarding a well-rounded education. I know it's a great concern for the general public, and even fellow homeschoolers are eager to cover all subjects, to give a well-rounded education.
So the question begs asking... are devoted, brilliant, passionate people Well-Rounded? I believe the answer is absolutely not. People of passion -surgeons, poets, dancers, musicians, teachers, scientists, lecturers- are just not well-rounded people. They are people that are consumed with their passion. They have chosen one thing and they do it well. They live and breathe it. They probably have a few other interests, of course, but as Eric and I were discussing, what brillant person is simply a jack-of-all trades? I know of no outstanding people that are just "well-rounded".
The point is not to insult people that are not consumed by only one thing, but that being consumed by something is hardly harmful. People are free for the entirety of their lives to learn and grow, they only need have the desire to do so.
It's that desire to stretch and grow that I intend to nourish in my chilldren.

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