I believe in Unschooling.
I agree with Mr. Einstein's words of "It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."
It's also cause for yet another of the puzzles my life.
Like that I believe in not harming any living creature but that I eat meat.
And that people who don't follow the rule of using their turn signal piss me off, but that I happily drive 80 miles per hour (or so) on the freeway.
Or that I'm a pacifist, and would like to smack people upside the head sometimes (and once in a while even do).
I have a peculiar set of rules that I adhere to-- ones made up by Me, in accordance with what I deem as sensible or honorable.
I think I'm learning -and accepting- (in my vast wisdom) that two or more opposing things can be true at the same time.
Because my son loves to ride his bike.
And my son did not want to learn to ride his bike.
Being a domineering and authoritative parent who has children live and behave because they are bullied and made to feel it's the only way they can receive my love and acceptance is probably my greatest parental fear.
Coersion and manipulation are not things that I want associated with me.
And as it happens, I am bossy by nature.
On the other hand... I am human.
And my children came to me to have a Human Experience.
Sometimes the call is an easy one. "Am I doing or thinking or feeling this out of Fear?" And if the answer is Yes, then I know it's not something that is True.
But sometimes the answer is not so clear.
Sometimes it feels like the answer is To shake things up. Or For a sense of adventure. Or Because I think he will enjoy it. And I have to dig deeper into my motivation.
So a Mama finds herself saying "Oh, come on, Bud, come snuggle with me! Come, let me read to you for a minute...." and so we end up reading (at his request and his delight) the next five chapters of Georg's Key.
And he learns to ride his bike, and discovers a whole new world - riding and whooping down hills, Independent Play (without his Mama nearby), neighborhood exploration, and growing up.
And he learns to feel satisfaction with something he's Created or drawn with his hands. Something that makes him smile.
And he learns that being challenged and adding numbers in his head is fun.
And he plays with baking soda and vinegar in the sandbox for the next two days.
I have been thinking on these things for a few weeks, now.
For a long time I wondered if I was justifying bullying my children into doing something they didn't want to do "for their own good".
My children have very real interests.... and never would I discourage their explorations and dedication to their pursuits and discoveries.
Never would I consider taking them away from an animal or dinosaur book or video (something they love) and toss them a Mathematics cdrom.
On the other hand.... when my son is standing around and waiting for his friend to get done with her chores so they can go Explore, I'll say, "Here... how about a ten minute game of Bingo?" and then "Addition or Subtraction today?"
And the thing is... we have a good time. (As long as I don't get my head into a "Let's just finish this" place. That robs the joy of something, but good.)
So a couple of questions arise.
Is it alright (with me and my subscribed philosophy) to interfere if the children find themselves in a lull?
I've found (through interacting in such a way with my son) that since I am (I believe) connected enough with my babes to recognize when they are "resting"- ie processing, needing a break from lots of activity, internalizing something, etc - that the answer is a surprising Yes.
Somehow, some way, getting them out of a place of Complacency... seems to work- and by "work" I mean it benefits all of us. As incongruous as it seems.
But... is that a good reason for doing it?
Am I robbing them of the Joy of Discovery?
If we play math Bingo at age 7, am I subverting his possible discovery of love for Math at age 9? or 12? or 17? (Provided I can hold out that long, of course.)
Does everything under the sun have to be discovered in absolute joy?
I know that these things seem so simple and probably so ridiculous to others.
And in regard to sweeping statements like "You are the parent" I say yes, but it's my job to aid and support them, not make them into something that I think they should be. Even at this young age, I don't get to choose their lives for them.
I think I have to ask myself the hardest question of all (and truthfully see myself) and ask myself if I'm just justifying something that doesn't sit well with me.
Does the end justify the means?
This is the question I haven't answered yet, and the reason I haven't posed (and posted) these questions before now.
Just because we have fun playing Bingo, does that make it alright to wheedle Trev into playing in the first place?
Just because one of his new Heroes is now Davey Crockett, does that make it alright that I said "Yes, you do have to watch it... for fifteen minutes."?
Just because he went through two gallons of vinegar in two days, does that make it alright that initially I said, "Come on, Bub, time for volcanoes...." and gently insisted when he drug his feet?
As I read this and think about it (and sift through the ill feelings) I come to the conclusion that the deciding factor is.... Motive.
Whether I'm choosing it out of dreaded Ego, Fear.... or Joy.
Aaaah...that's what it comes down to.
And if I'm not doing it out of Joy (and/or a sense of "I -honestly and in Love- believe you'll like this and I want to share it with you"), then I'd better damned well change my motivation. I'd better get damned good at swiftly stopping myself in my tracks, and taking the higher ground, instead.
Yup. I think that's it.
Let's bring it in... as long as the motivation is filled with happy Love.