Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Unschool Monday: Control & Curriculum

One of the things I love about unschool life is the spontaneity it brings to every day, which is not something I expected to love. Originally I was drawn to home educating because I liked the idea of me being the one to control my children's learning, as opposed to a stranger (this was before I was a parent). The more hours I rack up parenting the less I like the idea of control (and the more I come to understand that it is an illusion). 

Children are growing humans, they come with their own wills and ideas. Fighting that dooms my children and I to misery and disappointment. If I had a curriculum that I stuck to and tried to make Harriet adhere to, gorgeous days like today wouldn't happen.

This morning, as Harri approached the breakfast table she announced that she wanted to go to the beach and build castles. We ate, dressed, packed water, apples, shovel and bucket and wandered to the beach. There the sea set our curriculum.
Harri learned about temperatures, textures, wet and dry,  what happens to sand depending on how much water touches it. The coolest lesson the sea had for us was what jellyfish look like on the top and bottom. And she had a great time ferrying buckets of water to a hole she dug, filling it, stirring and pretending to sip "soup" from her shovel :)

I am at heart a control freak, despite my love for unschooling. I often fall into the trap of worrying that my girls won't learn without someone enforcing a 9am to 3pm curriculum of predominantly textbook work on them. I also worry about life without school (and kindergarten and childcare) denying them joy that our society presents as essential for growing children. Then a day like today happens and reminds me of the bigger picture.

What is it I want for my children? Health and happiness. Check and check. I should know from experience that institutional schooling, university degrees and "real" jobs do not equal happiness. But it's easy to forget when working against the cultural grain.

I need to remember how utterly unhappy life would be if I made myself adhere to the curriculum I set to ensure my own health and happiness. Where would I be if I controlled my own life like I sometimes want to control my children? Well, for one,  I wouldn't have children! Children were not on the curriculum. Therefore, neither was birth or breastfeeding, two passions that fill my life with joy. Most of the friends I hold dear to my heart now I would never have met, because it has all been because of childbirth that these women are in my life.

As John Lennon said: "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans", learning is what happens to children when their parents are busy worrying about their education ;)
I'm joining in with Owlet's Unschool Monday.

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