Friday, January 10, 2014

homeschool joy: when the learner becomes the teacher

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but

I love homeschooling.

I don't always love the specifics of it,

like, the day to day frustrations that can crop up ("Could someone please help clean the kitchen?" and "Ah, you forgot your music, and you're only telling me now we're here?" and  "Please stop niggling, just for a second so I can think" and "Don't throw the stuffed cat at your sister!")

or those wobbly fearful moments when you aren't sure you're doing it "right," or when you foolishly spend waaaay too long looking at Eduspeaky Websites that (very importantly and authoritatively) show you all the things you should be doing just because that's what everyone else is doing and that's the box you're supposed to tick (Breathe)

or… those times you'd really like a bit more time for yourself and (you feel) you simply can't have it (because home-edding can often feel like (and actually IS) a full-time job—even in those down moments when it seems like you're not busy at all. You're still, always, on call)


I still love the whole thing anyway.

I love the happiness homeschool brings

when you're totally able to drop everything (or not pick anything up to begin with) and spend real time playing, or learning, or chatting, or sharing, or creating.

And I love the satisfaction it brings

when your kids tell you about something they've learned or discovered — you either brought it to their attention and they loved it, or they found it completely on their own and have been immersed in it for hours, only surfacing with a grin to tell you all about it.

I love the peace homeschooling brings

when you realise this life fits you completely

because your kids are following their passions

and you find you do, in fact, have time to write your novel

and do art classes (with and without your kids)

and you ALL get to be in your Element, together.

That's amazing

and a gift

and a blessing.

And then.


You suddenly find something new has crept up while you weren't even looking.

There are now moments, many of them, coming over and over, more and more often,

where you realise

you've become the learner

and they the mentor.

Because look! —

they've learned some mad skills of their own

and want to teach you.

Last year, my son did a history course through Coursera, called "A Brief History of Humankind." It was 17 weeks long, and was taught through the University of Jerusalem.

Well, for 17 weeks (longer in fact, because the course has run a bit into overtime), we have been hearing about the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, the rise of homo sapiens, capitalism, religion, the history of happiness and so on and so forth. Hours of information relayed to us by my 13 year old boy who has LOVED this course. Hours of discussion, hours of learning through my son, hours of knowledge relayed by him to me.

We are finishing up the course together. Just two more lectures, lying on the big bed with the cicadas chirruping outside, pausing to laugh at the lecturer's wry humour, or chat about the concepts he's raised. It's delicious, is what it is. Learning alongside my son. Learning through my son. So much joy.

My daughter has been animating and computer programming on Scratch now for a year, and has been producing hours and hours of projects on line. In the past six months, she has also been teaching her dad how to create games, working with her brother on creating silly animations, and just this past week, has begun teaching me to animate.

I can't believe I didn't start sooner! It's SO much fun.

I've had to let go of my adult (sort of impatient) self, who wants to have the skill now. I've stopped to listen to my girl as she has shown me each step and explained the purpose of commands that seemed to have no purpose, as she has encouraged me to take the reins with sometimes only a little guidance. It has been really hard to produce these few seconds of animation, but wow. It's been so rewarding.

In these small moments, that keep coming over and over,

I can see so clearly how incredibly satisfying it must be for my children, to be such independent learners.

It must feel pretty cool, to be encouraged (by me, my husband, their mentors, their friends) to find things that interest them, to explore them any time, practice them for hours, immerse themselves as deeply as they want until they are full.

I love that I can give that to my kids. I love that my children get to be full-time, all-day, any-time-they-want learners and then, and then! That they want to pass on their learning to the lucky people around them.

I love being their student.

I love that they are my mentors.

I love how much I've learned.

Here is my second ever animation. I am pleased as peaches about it. It makes me grin, every time I look at it.

When I win my Academy Award for it (in the not-too-distant future!) I'll say:

"Thank you. I couldn't have done this without my kids."


1 comment:

  1. heehee! i love it! we'll have to look for that program. my oldest is pretty certain she doesn't want to learn any programming, but i tell her, you love using the computer, you love making art on the computer, you just might love programming....maybe she'll get to it one day. love hearing about what you're all up to...


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