Life Lived Freely

So...I decided to take TheGirl out of school next year and homeschool her. Actually what I plan to do is  called "Radical Unschooling" (surprisingly, yes, that's in fact a thing.)  I have changed my thoughts completely about school and I have her to thank.

She doesn't like school.  In fact, she hates it.

Every teacher I've ever told about her resentment of school has been shocked.  When she's at school, she is engaged, funny, sociable, and...happy.  Sure she has trouble dealing with the kids who get into her personal space, but for the most part she loves the social aspect and she is nourished by other people.  But there's one big problem with school:  She doesn't like other people telling her what to do.

I used to say that as a joke; as a badge of honor being the mother of a girl that doesn't like people telling her what to do.    I now realize that she was trying to communicate with me.  It just took me a while to hear what she was saying.

Let me back up by saying - this girl is amazing. Yes all parents say that about their children, and rightfully so - all children ARE amazing.   But sadly many children buy into the notion that society sets for them that their natural instincts are wrong.  They hear it over and over in their lives - from parents, teachers, siblings, strangers - all well-meaning but all misguided.   What ends up happening is that we become a society full of people who do not trust ourselves.  We don't trust our instincts.  We don't trust our hearts.  And, because we've been told so often that we are wrong, we start to believe that we are bad.

It's hard to say that our societal construct is anyone's fault.  We were all built into the same system.   We firmly believe that in order to succeed we need to be able to conform.  But I'm starting to question the validity, or even the sanity, of that notion.

As A People, we just don't like children.  A large portion of the population is slowly shifting toward DINK status because they just don't want the added inconvenience.   You can tell immediately out & about who likes kids and who doesn't.  Disliking a whole segment of the population?   But if you think about it, it makes sense.  We were all told that children should be seen and not heard.  We weren't really taught that children's opinions were valuable, certainly not more valuable than the grown ups' in their lives.  We assume they won't have anything useful to say until they become adults.  But kids who are raised to be disrespected do not magically grow into respectful, respectable adults.  They, in large part, grow into bigger versions of their child-selves that present an outward appearance of maturity, but without the underlying wisdom.  Adults these days don't know how to Like nor Honor themselves, so how could they possibly Like or Honor the souls of children?

Recently, I volunteered in TheBoy's class for Math Game Day.  I was so excited, because I like Math, I like Games, and I love spending time with TheBoy!  One of the 4 teachers was sick so it ended up being me + 12 children in the 2nd Grade Breakout Room.  We paired off the teams and they got to work.    As I walked around the room, I could immediately tell that one of them was struggling with math, because he covered it up by sulking and throwing the entire deck of cards across the table, upsetting his already-sensitive partner.  The loudest group were all boys and were actually all playing the assigned game the entire time and having a blast, but the echo in the room made their raucous very distracting to the other kids.  It was clear to me that I did not have control of this situation.

But, you know what?  That wasn't what bothered me.  What struck me was that These children should be outside playing, not cramped up in a room with no windows right after lunch.  Loud boys would not bother other kids on a grassy field because they'd all have the option to disperse.  A child that struggles with math wouldn't be feeling a panic about his shortcomings outside because he'd be doing something else (contrary to popular belief, not everyone needs to learn math, and the math they do need to learn - measurements, money counting, etc - need not be learned on a standardized time schedule.)  A child that was partnered up with someone who was acting out would be able to walk away and play with someone else. 

{Photo Credit:

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

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Recently, I had a heart-to-heart with TheGirl about our options to make sure leaving the school was what she really wanted.  I told her I was thinking of taking her out and that she wouldn't be with her friends every day but that she would make new friends.  She said, "No, I want to be with my friends!  I want to stay at my school." I said if that's what she wants please show mebecause I didn't want to fight with her about going to school every day again next year.  Every day since then?

"I hate school."

This morning's exact quote was, "I don't want to go to school.  I don't have to go to school.  I don't like school."

The biggest issue with school is not the learning, she likes learning, it's the having to learn on someone else's timeline.   In my opinion, it's not the education system but the educational model that is broken.  You want to read in the library?  Oh no, silly, it's time to sit in a chair in a different room right now.  You want to spend more time playing that musical instrument?  Sorry, it's time for the Social Studies lesson right now.   Your creativity peaks after your family goes to sleep?  You best cut that out because we are tracking your Daily Tardiness.  Math doesn't interest you at this stage in your life?  Too bad, you're learning it anyway.

A school can be modeled with amazing precision to get kids pumped up about the subject matter, but any system that excludes an "Opt-Out" alternative will be missing the mark.  Why?  Because the underlying premise still remains: the students must be controlled.  Free will is out of the question.

The world does not need more successful people.  It does not need more people who would rock on Jeopardy!  It does not need more straight-A students who end up at Ivy League schools.  It does not need more people who figure out how to subvert their own sense of self in order to "win the game."

The world needs more people who believe in the ability of their own hearts to guide them.

{Photo Credit:

LiveLoveQuotes

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This quote by The Libertarian Homeschooler sums it all up perfectly:

 Sometimes I really want behavior that is not appropriate to my child's age to come out of my child. And I want it NOW! (Stamps foot.) I want This fruit, from This tree, and I want it to be Sweet and I want it to be Pretty and I want it to be Fragrant and I want it NOW! Because of Me Me Me looking Good in front of Other People. Or because of Me Me Me being selfish with my time or energy or effort. Me Me Me Mine Mine Mine!

Yeah. Isn't that special?

And what happens when I don't get what I want? It only gets better.

I consider using threats of physical or emotional pain (not so much physical pain, but emotional coercion or bullying) or bribes that appeal to their basest animal instincts (flattery, sweets, favor). But I don't call it that. Noooooo. I lie to myself and call it 'training'. (Behold! I am B. F. Skinner with a jackass or a bear or a sea lion! I'm 'training' him to be considerate. I'm 'training' him to share. I'm 'training' him to be responsible. I'm 'training' him to work.) I'm 'training' the tree to give me the fruit I want before it's ready to do it.

But I can't. You know why? Because it gets me small, immature, unripe, sour, bitter fruit. I might get the behavior that I want but it's trained behavior produced by a parent who has appealed to her child's desire to avoid pain and seek pleasure. (Appealing to the animal. To the jackass or the bear or the sea lion, not the human person.)

Not what I want. I want the real deal.

Sweet, fragrant, pretty fruit that's good to behold and smell and taste is mature fruit and it can't be forced. So I have to be patient. I have to not stamp my foot. I have to wait.

 

Yes.  That.

Now, you might ask, if TheGirl is such a sociable girl, why am I taking her out of the social realm of school and bringing her home with me?

My answer is that...it's temporary.

My ultimate plan is to open a school.  An Unschool.  A Spirit Center.  A Life Lived Freely Spirit Center. (If you're not already following the Life Lived Freely Facebook page, click here.  Right now it's filled with inspiring quotes and articles but I plan to use it to document my progress as I navigate this uncharted world of Honoring the Heart.)

The entire premise of school is that children, that people, will get it wrong if left to follow their bliss.  It all boils down to a lack of Faith.

My plan, my passion, my dream, is to bring Faith back into the learning process.  Not Dogma, not Fear of Eternal Condemnation, but Faith.  Faith that God, The Universe, Our Divine Souls, Our Higher Selves, the Great I Am...whatever you prefer to call it...truly do know how to guide us through life.

So, there it is.  What I've been conjuring up while I've been away from my blog.  I'm opening a school.  I'm sure this won't be an easy task, but I welcome the challenge and I hope it sparks a second thought or two in the hearts and minds of the people I meet as I pave this path.  At a minimum, I hope my plans help to assure those who feel the same way about our social construct that they are not crazy and they are not alone.

{Photo Credit: Quoted Thoughts}

I can't tell you how excited I am right now.