I snuck out of bed early today so I could squeeze in a blog post. I snuck out of the warm covers and left behind two snuggly little boys, a protesting long-haired kitty-cat, and the soft glow of a baby monitor.
Daddy, who is always just a little too noisy in the morning, was downstairs trying to enjoy his coffee at 5:15am. “I’m going to be late. I have to take it on the road today.”
I handed him his travel mug and noted how the dishes hadn’t been done by my hopeful twelve year old that promised she would do them at 4:30am (and set her alarm) if I would just let her draw for an hour last night after the babies went to bed… in peace.
I used the already dirty pan that daddy used to cook his eggs to make mine. And two slices of bacon. Both at the same time. We take as many short cuts as we can around here.
I ate in silence, making a mental note of all the things that must be accomplished today. A gentle nudge from the Spirit reminded me that I should pray for my meal; the first reminder of the day to be present in this moment and not stuck in list mode.
I thanked him for bacon… eggs… milk… prayed that our day would be better today. Less fighting, less struggle, less difficulty. Let us do better. Give us success.
Many years of catching the bus, going to school, fighting the traffic, punching the clock… and I still struggle with laying down the list and choosing to enjoy life when there are items left unchecked.
Yesterday before bed I noticed that both of my kids were doing something “educational”. One was drawing (even though art was not on her assignment sheet for the day), and the other one was watching a movie about sea creatures (even though he had already finished his assigned science reading). I pondered over how strange it is that I am unwilling to call it school if it doesn’t look like my institutionalized upbringing – straight back children in neat rows with hands raised high for attention. Even in my own “classroom” of two, I have a hard time acknowledging out-of-the-box checks on our syllabus. It is so hard to recognize true learning as it takes place – this thing we call life – because it is such a natural phenomenon.
At lunch yesterday there was a quiz. My nearly fifteen year old thought he had me stumped. “What are dermal denticles?”
I drew on my vague understanding of Latin, and my greater knowledge of his interests – which are all things scientific and found in nature. “Well, derma – skin? And denti – teeth?”
“Yeah, but on what?” He smiled, knowing I was caught.
“I give up.”
He proceeded to tell me the story of a shark’s “skin” – which is not scales, but tiny linked teeth that provide a body armor, reduce drag and turbulence, and help him hunt quietly.
Who knows when he learned this about sharks, but I wasn’t the one who taught it to him. It didn’t go on any lesson plan. There were no check marks, no grades, no records made.
It was simply a boy with an interest – feeding his mind full of the wonder of God’s creation. And it stuck. It gave him interesting small talk at lunch and he marveled at how cool God was to design such amazing creatures.
I can’t take credit for that, folks. I might have scoffed at unschooling in the past, but sometimes I wonder if God made me in to an unschooler just to humble my little classroom-teacher-style heart.
Sometimes I have people ask me how in the world I “get it all done” with babies in the house. I don’t. Sometimes they ask me how in the world I have the patience to homeschool. I don’t. I’m just as frazzled and tired and impatient as the lot of them.
However, even I, the one who is chained to her to-do list, can see the miracle in a year’s worth of unscripted learning turning in to passed tests that we did not study for. I can see the beauty in my kids being passionate about their God-given interests. I can SEE them… every day… watch them unfold like roses. Here today, growing, blooming… I can’t imagine sending that bouquet away to someone else’s table.
Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned. ~Mark Twain
So I’ll keep adding the little miracle “assignments” to my school list each day so my conformist mind can rise above the urge to think we “didn’t get much done”: discussion about shark skin, educational movie about ocean creatures, research and practice Manga drawing styles, lettering difficult piano music and practicing, baking chocolate chip cookies without help…
I’m so proud of them. I couldn’t keep them from learning if I tried.