I was very busy this summer with planning out our year. It seemed important to dot all of our ‘i’s and cross all of our ‘t’s. Now, partway through this year I am weighing the balance between ‘lots of learning’ and ‘good learning’. I’m remembering to ask, “Whose ‘i’s are those anyways? Do we really need all these ‘t’s?”
I homeschool the kids because I have different ideas about education. Why am I letting the spectre of university alter my focus? In particular, I have a definite notion of the kind of mind and the kind of person I want to send into the world. The ideas that are important to me as an educator include: learning a few, important things well rather than many things superficially; having time to develop a sense of self; quiet moments in which to think and dream and process; developing compassion.
This month we have at times been so busy with many small subjects like vocabulary that Sandra hasn’t had time to read Scientific American – a magazine she subscribed to with her own money. We haven’t felt free to do nothing but read or bake for an afternoon. We are feeling imprisoned by the checklist, boxed in. We have felt that to ignore it is to be guilty of laziness or worse. We feel judged by even asking the question about going off the track.
It was Take your Kid to Work day last week. We ticked off no ‘credit hour’ type boxes, but there was a lot of learning when she tagged along with Rainer to the university library. Meetings, reference shifts, coffee breaks, more meetings, and even an evening lecture on information literacy and searching for publications.
To borrow a term from elsewhere, I think I’m Slow Schooling. I keep reminding myself to see the kids as people on a journey rather than ‘a Grade 11 student’ or ‘a freshman’. I keep reminding myself to ask, “Who is this person? What does he/she need right now?” I keep reminding myself that education is not a race, nor is it a plate at a buffet. Education is life. Opportunity. Time to think. Skills. People working together.