One of the reasons that I am sort of kind of taking up the challenge of home/un/roadschooling is that I’ve been concerned about the impact of institutional schooling on individual initiative. I have long wondered about the false equation and psychological minefield of “schooled=educated.” So as I have continued to meditate on this decision, one of the things that I’ve hoped will come out of it is these boys taking the initiative in pursuing their own interests…and having the time and resources to do so.
Little did I know all I had to do was to purchase a book to get it going!
Not to say they don’t follow their own paths anyway. The hours spend downstairs in a sea of Legos, pursuing some elaborate joint building project, the hours spend outdoors creating elaborate games and the elaborate ensuing fights about said games, are a testament to that. But I’m just concerned that the school routine just might be implanting some dreaded association between “learning…assignments…obligation…tests…” in their brain.
So as I have contemplated the shape of what we’ll be doing, I have wondered about how to encourage that. I mean – isn’t it contradictory to assign a self-initiated project?!
But then I considered my own home education. Yes, I went to school, but, as it is for many, most of my education actually happened at home anyway. I was surrounded by books, art and music. I was surrounded by books about art, politics, religion and culture. Out of the thousands of books my parents had, some of the few I have saved for myself are the coffee table art books – books which I spent hundreds of hours studying. I saved the books of political cartoons – which I began pouring over when I was probably 10 or so, and through which I probably learned more American history than I did in school. I thought about the stacks of LP’s – the Brandenburg Concertos and Beethoven Symphonies to which I systematically listened, and the books of poetry out of which I selected works to memorize….just because.
I have all of that here, all of that and more. But what I’ve also got are 2 little boys who are engineers, project creators and mechanics. I might have gotten engrossed in Renoir, but they need something else.
(Although they probably could very well get engrossed in Renoir, too, but for different reasons. So maybe not yet.)
So yesterday, while we had our milestone “Boys go to the movies by themselves” afternoon…
(And I will digress on that….Mike always took them to the movies. He didn’t mind at all…if he could sit in the theater and eat movie popcorn, he was super happy. Didn’t matter what was on the screen. He didn’t care. Since then, I’ve usually had another almost-adult around to take the boys, but no more. They’re all off in college or being gainfully employed elsewhere. Me? I can’t stand sitting through another mediocre kids’ movie. I just can’t. If it’s got good reviews, I’ll go (we saw Brave in New Mexico), but otherwise…I really can’t do that anymore. So, yesterday, I took them to the theater to see the Ice Age movie they’d been asking to see, got them inside and seated…and left to go to Barnes and Noble. Everyone survived. )
…okay…so while they were at the movie, I did some shopping and came back with a Janice Van Cleave book. All I had to do was just leave it on the table…and…
And then what happened was the the balloons from the yeast experiment inspired about 2 hours of further experimentation – both before and after pool time – in which balloons, both tied and untied, were taped to paper airplanes and other contraptions, to see how fast they could make them go and what kind of trajectory resulted. I am trusting that something was “learned,” although I sure didn’t teach it.
Oh, and there’s this.
Home chemistry? Yeah – the kind that happens when you are so distracted when you are trying to make the requested pound cake – distracted, I might add, by your assistants – that you actually forget to put in the baking powder and salt until the batter has already been mixed, and you are standing there contemplating said batter and recipe and what you’d put into the bowl and you’re thinking, “So…what an odd recipe…what is going to make this rise? Because I didn’t put any…..oh, shoot.”
Cooking, and therefore, home chemistry tip: No, mixing baking powder and salt into batter is not the equivalent process as mixing all the dry ingredients together. Something about dispersion, I suppose. Tastes fine, sure, but, not exactly food-blog photo-worthy.