“Do not take counsel of your fears.”
This quote has always struck me as being particularly wise. Our fears, our worries, and our discomforts can all be an indication that we need to take stock. They make excellent indicator lights, but terrible advisers. When my fears are in control of my plans, black-and-white thinking abounds, extremism takes over, and rigid solutions are implemented in the face of all wisdom and experience.
It was providential that in the midst of my March reevaluations a friend recommended a video talk to me and, while I usually avoid online video like a friar avoids possessions, I watched. In it Sir Ken Robinson talks charmingly and with insight about education and creativity. I was running on the treadmill at the time, and there was one point at which I shouted with laughter and nearly suffered a Terrible Incident.
So many points struck home. So many things I truly believe and, indeed, have written or spoken at great length about. And yet in moments of self-doubt, I never seem to remember them. Interestingly, on my bad days, I never remember to evaluate our days and our progress against my best ideals but only against traditional notions of educational ideals.
He reminded me that our system of education is built on certain assumptions and turns out a particular kind of person, a system and end-product that aren’t the ones I actually want to use as a point of comparison. He reminded me that while a strict classical education was what drew me to homeschooling, it was because it was the education I’d always wanted for myself and my children had taught me quickly that they were on a different plan. He reminded me that while I was aiming for a professorship since the age of 8 and gloried in academia, it wasn’t until my pregnancies forced me into my body that I began to walk a path that had at least a glancing familiarity with happiness, wholeness, and wisdom. He reminded me to not take counsel of my fears.
Who am I raising? What sort of big people will my small people grow up to become?
I am forgetting that I need to take account of all that we do in our days. I am forgetting that a paper trail isn’t the only measure of educational progress. I am forgetting to measure our days against an ideal that is more than just educating the left brain, but the right brain, the arms, the legs, and the compassionate heart, too.
“What might a fundamental honouring of a child’s own way mean for us as parents? After all, what does it mean to have one’s way? What is one’s true Way, with a capital W?”
Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn