i was just doing some thinking while doing laundry (i do a lot of thinking while doing housework)…
i recently had this thought, i think i posted here about…the “what if…” thought about most of us being stuck in public school for 13+ years might have set us up for feeling “stuck” in dead-end jobs, or jobs we hate. i wondered on the radio with gena a couple weeks ago…wondered if that was a by-product of being “stuck” in school for so long that many of us then went on to feel “stuck” in jobs. an unfortunate point of view, since as adults we always have choices.
so this morning i thought of another “what if?”…this one is what if another unfortunate by-product of being stuck in school for 13+ years, against our will, is learning to live in a stressful environment and thereupon recreating this in our adult lives. i mean, think about it…school is an INCREDIBLY STRESSFUL environment! just to list a few things…homework & all the myriad of assignments always heaped upon even the littlest schoolers…bullies and peer pressure…having to follow someone else’s schedule constantly, even when you want to do something else…teachers who are not always nice (some that are downright nasty!)…not being able to understand something that you “should” (feeling dumb, frustrated)…parental and school pressure to get good grades…studying for endless tests…being forced to sit and listen to subjects that are of no interest to you…the constant mad dash every morning to get ready for school and out the door…
the list goes on and on…school IS stressful…i don’t think anyone could argue otherwise.
so what does this teach us? that life is stressful. and to be used to living in constant stress, perhaps? i wonder.
to be engulfed in this life of stress starting in the most formidable years…that can’t be a positive thing. i just don’t see how it can create anything BUT adults that are prone to living lives full of stress.
i’m not saying that there’s no stress in life nor that there shouldn’t be. there’s no avoiding a life with stress. i don’t believe that for a second. but to saturate my children in what i see as needless stress for their entire childhood? i’m not buying into any part of that being positive.
contrast that life to the way my kids normally live their lives…not normally having to get up at a certain time…not normally HAVING to do all that many things at a set time or a set way (there are some things, of course…i do make them do things here and there, but not every minute of every day.) my kids are free to choose what they want to do for much of their days. and i am not hovering over them checking their work or telling them what they need to do next, or testing them, or forcing them to write things they don’t want to write…
one could argue that then how will they learn to do the things they will HAVE to do in adult life? how will they then be able to get up on time to get to work? how will they get assignments done on time for their jobs? this, to me, is about as silly as asking how will they learn to stand in line? this isn’t brain surgery. these aren’t the sort of things you need to have an entire childhood to practice to be able to do it. if you have to get up at a certain time, you set an alarm and get up at a certain time! i don’t for a second believe that you have to have had 13+ years of experience doing this to be able to do it. remember they’ll be adults at that point and they will have the maturity to understand things that have to happen. you don’t have to practice at setting an alarm and getting up to it. if that were true, my husband would be a pro at it…and yet he STILL manages to be late (often VERY late) every single morning for work! and i was the same way when i was working outside the home. so i don’t think that that’s an issue.
and as far as getting things done on time…i think because my kids have had an entire childhood to follow their passions…they will be able to pick jobs that they enjoy and are passionate about and thus will be able to get assignments done in the time required simply because they WANT to! and also there’s the adult factor of knowing that things just have to be done, and having the maturity to do it. that’s not something you need to “learn” either, in my mind. you just do it. perhaps my kids (and perhaps most unschoolers) would be even better prepared for assignments because they haven’t already burnt out on them…and they haven’t had the experience and time to learn to hate them.
perhaps. perhaps not. but i don’t see yet any reason why what i’m doing is setting my child up for anything but success in adulthood.
and i’m not saying i’m a radical unschooler, by any means. i still do not really buy into the whole philosophy that kids SHOULDN’T be ever “taught”, or that they should always be able to just do whatever they want. that just doesn’t feel right to me, in my life, with my kids. if it works for others, more power to them! i can’t say what’s right for others. only myself and my kids.
and i don’t know that i’ll ever be fully unschooling because i still will probably inject some of my own agenda in from time to time. some would say that’s not a contradiction to unschooling and some would say it is. i don’t know that any specific lable fits what i am seeing these days as my personal philosophy of education…i’ll probably always be eclectic. and i’ll probably always do some curriculum here and there…as long as its enjoyable to my children. if they don’t mind doing an assignment or project or activity or whatever, i see no harm in it…some unschoolers would, but that’s why i probably am not a true unschooler. i am probably more of an “eclectic homeschooler with strong unschooling tendencies.” LOL! how’s that for a label?
anyway, what i can tell you for sure is that the environment in my home has relaxed considerably since i’ve relaxed about what i felt i “should” be doing. i’m not stressed so much and hence my children are not. i had a conversation with a friend of mine about this yesterday…she’s come through a similar metamorphosis lately and landing squarely in a life of unschooling, after having one of her kids in school for a short time)…we both agreed that our lives now are much more relaxed now that all the “shoulds” have started melting away. and without the “shoulds” (i should be doing this subject now, i should have her do this once a week, i should have her read this every day…i should be working on this with her…etc etc…) our mommy brains have more time to enjoy our kids. and a beautiful by-product of that is just a happier home all around. the kids definitely pick up on our mommy stress…and things get worse when i’m stressed because i’m snappy. and then they are snappy and then we all fight like crazy. its horrible.
not saying i don’t still have my moments…for sure i do! and i probably always will! i’m only human, after all! and so are my children!
but i can tell you that despite the fact that i’m not forcing maeven to read anything ever (any more)…she is DEVOURING books at an alarming rate! always looking for the next book to read! and despite my no longer pushing her to do copywork during the week…she is writing her own things in her own way in her own time…and i’m having to throw away a lot of it because there’s just SO much! and she is ENJOYING what she’s doing! and she’s not freaking out like she used to, as much. (we still have our moments, of course)…its just a calmer house all around. and we can listen to the story of the world in an enjoyable environment, instead of “oh great, this again.” because we are listening to stories for the pure joy of listening, and with no hoops to jump through afterwards to make sure that they’ve gotten what i want them to get out of it. we just listen. it’s really remarkable.
so i continue on my journey of understanding this thing called mommyhood, LOL! and probably in another month or so i’ll have completely new revelations! and maybe by the time my kids are grown i’ll have figured out exactly how to do all this! LOL. (yeah, right)