Thursday, October 21, 2010

small steps, giant leaps

goin' to the moon

I found myself in a venue that was not compelling for me, and there confronted with hostility. A school teacher, no less, saying something every week about why homeschooling was not a good thing. Oh my but what she would have said if she could have even imagined unschooling.

She raised first socialization, of course. And I parried that with my utter uncaring. Not that I didn't care about her question but that I have the example of my children as well as my instinct to know that this concern about "socialization" is a false one -- how could I be concerned?

The next week she did not question me but pressed to service another tactic: a loud story pointed directly at me about the importance of schooling, and the more of it the better. I sat and studiously ignored. And seethed. This little conversation was no accident.

Lo and behold, the next week she avoided me like the plague. I was not exactly saddened by this turn of events. It was, in fact, the least burdensome weekend yet, although that might have been as much because I only bore one day instead of two as because of her relative silence.

And then . . . and then . . . she approached me and she said, "You will laugh at me." And I probably looked at her blankly because, ok, laughing would be better than scowling at her so I'm not seeing that as a negative but obviously she is. Then she somehow explained to me that she was now, as of this very past week, homeschooling her own daughter. She was sheepish about it and she kept mentioning that she had yelled at me the previous week about homeschooling.

I tried to take it in, make sense of it, and you can tell by my rendition of it that I had some trouble with it, and all I could say to her was, "Good for you. Can I help you?" And she asked me some questions and I told her some things and to me the most touching thing was that she said that she'd been fighting with her daughter every morning to get up and go to school, yelling fighting screaming and I just touched her shoulder and said, "Don't do that." Because no relationship is fertilized by constant interpersonal strife. All relationships have some but to me your relationship with your daughter is far far and away more important than going to school. Of course, I don't think going to school is important at all so it isn't much of a contest for me.

You know, there are things in life that do have to be done. You have to eat your veggies and brush your teeth and pay your taxes but by and large those things can be worked out without strife, creatively. Not by ignoring them, not by not doing them, but creatively finding ways that are not unpleasant. Life can be seen differently. Relationships can be seen differently. And first seen is then done, and once done another vista of seen anew can open again. It is rather like aikido, where people's bullying energy is simply sidestepped, redirected to no affect, the highest level of morality.

She asked me, then, what my kids were doing about a diploma. They won't have one. Or they will have one we print out for them. Little odds. Well, she said on the verge of apologetically, a high school diploma, and her daughter having one, was important to her. I said I understood that it would be. She said she didn't know why it was important to her but it was. I said it was because she was indoctrinated to it being important but we can choose to live outside of that like we can choose to live outside of having to go to school.

She had said the week before that in the real world you had to go to school every day. In my real world, you have to eat. In my real world, you have to have fun. In my real world . . . well, you get the idea. You decide what is important to you. In most people's real world, one has to go to work everyday . . . and I do go to work, off the homestead, a lot of days. But I do it because I want to. It is work and it is people that nurture me, and if it weren't, I'd be out of there before feeding time. I try very much to be a positive presence in the world, to offer more than I take, to be an example of a considered morality but I never lose focus that my priority is my family and my farm. All for one, one for all. They indulge my horse passions -- we all indulge absolutely to the greatest extent possible each other's passions. And we are able to do this to the extent that we've freed ourselves from indoctrination, institutionalization, and external validation.

The husband and I were talking the other day, sharing some of our latest insights into how to be healthy and hale and hearty into our more advanced middle age. We decided two of our best moves had been to not have a mirror in the house, and to not have any comfortable chairs in the house. It is a lot easier to break the external validation habit without the mirrors, and a lot easier to have good posture and a strong body and a lot less fat (which translates into health) by not sitting much.

Unschooling has been like that too. We took away the idea of school. We rejected testing summarily. We examined and did away with most all competition, and all "real" competition, in favor of cooperation and celebration. We've never engaged in busy work although there is always plenty of real work to be done. We find what we are good at, and what we can contribute, and what needs to get done . . . and joy and humor and thoughtfulness and challenge . . . and so much more. And the longer we unschool together, the more things we parents find we were indoctrinated about that with thought and with intention and with care and love can be . . . extinguished. There is no room for it in the intentional life. Unschooling has been what we've called the process of freeing ourselves from indoctrination and institutionalization, and what we've called the process of not insulting our children's psyches with indoctrination and institutionalization to begin with.

And while my new arms length "friend" may be homeschooling with Alpha Omega curriculum and not unschooling, she has taken a great huge leap away from the industrial-schooling complex of indoctrination and institutionalization. May she learn to define her own world, measure her daughter using only her daughter as the measuring stick, measure herself using only herself as her measure, and use a real reality as a guide instead of an external and false reality.


Anonymous said...

I so love this.

Madcap said...

Hmm. That must have been a pretty chaotic ride in her mind. And too bad you had to be the one to help her "process" it!

CG said...

I think she wanted (and maybe wants) compulsory institutional schooling to be the end all be all. But her daughter isn't happy in school. The daughter just finally won out.

CG said...

still thinking out loud, I think I was part of her "signs" (or maybe meeting my kids who are unlikely to fit any stereotype of what a homeschooled kid is were among her "signs" that she was supposed to do this).

say what? said...

Here in the flatlands, way too close to the Baltimore-Washington metroplex, home schooling our son was seen as a threat to the local system. I was told so, ever other week, by friends and relatives making their livings within the system. That our household qualified for the federal lunch program was gasoline poured on the fire! The local school received an extra $1,000 per child in the lunch program. Our not having the boy in school was costing the school a grand a year. How dare I keep that money from them?

What you’re doing is even more of a threat to our system! If too many here begin to think as you do our state will repeal its home school law and force everyone back into the system!

Sally P. said...

Why is "socialization" the first thing they always bring up?

"Well, of course it's with great regret that my kids aren't being socialized to be homicidal, but I think it's worth it."

CG said...

or as our doctor said, "When people say, 'What about socialization?', I say, 'Exactly my point!'"

Eyem Just Saying said...

You're doctor is a proponent of home schooling?

CG said...

our doctor homeschooled his own children . . . and home birthed (with midwives) all but the last one (of eight).

eyem just saying said...

Cool, but not something I would expect.