Monday, September 10, 2018

The Freedom to Be

It's certainly been awhile since I've stopped by here.  Things have been crazy busy and, quite honestly, writing has not been the top of the priority list.  **GASP!!**  I know, right?  So I'll give you a quick synapsis of life over the last two years before I get into what really brought me here. (has it really been two years!?!)  We are still working on the house, though we should be able to move into the actual house part this November.  We're still continuing on the whole homeschool journey, kind of meshing the relaxed, unschool approach with specific goals set by the kids and quests (i.e. project-based learning) to get them into some deep learning they love.  We are currently in a entrepreneur quest that is getting them prepared for the upcoming holiday fair season.  Speaking of entrepreneur, we bought a school bus transportation business for the Tok School, ironically taking kids to and from school.  Oh, and we've had our sweet, last baby boy Finnegan.  He seriously has brought us so much joy, it's unimaginable not having him here.  I might just post an article on how we overcame whooping cough naturally when he was two months old last fall.  That just about catches you all up, which brings me to the post.
Yesterday I was working on the computer while the 6 and 3 year old were watching some cartoons.  Some beautiful music comes on between the obnoxious cartoons and I become enthralled with this commercial.  It's gorgeous with kids running through the forest, playing with their dogs, stating statements like 'We could train dragons or rocket to mars?'  It was poignant and breathtaking and had me cheering as the child's voice said, "Give us the freedom to be, so that we could be anything."  I'm shouting in my head, "Yes!" thinking finally someone has gotten it!  This has to be a movement rising up to champion our children and the unique genius inside of each and every one of them.  While it's not a movement, GoGo Squeez Applesauce sure has it right.

What would happen if we gave children the freedom to be?  What if they had the ability to chose the direction of their day?  Pick the things they were studying?  Write their stories as they see fit?  Would life fall into chaos?  Probably, at least for a bit.  But people in general don't like operating in chaos.  Would they never learn to diagram a sentence or dissect an earthworm or figure out the secrets to calculus?  Maybe, maybe not, but are those things vital to being a productive, morally conscious, passion-driven person?  Definitely not.

The last two and a half years have found us struggling with this thought, questioning the philosophy of our homeschool and the school system at large, and coming to some answers.  Yes, children need the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.  But are we really teaching our children to learn when they sit at the kitchen table crying over their homeschool writing program in frustration or struggle through two hours of math homework after putting in a full day of 2nd grade in school?  Or are we teaching kids that they just don't measure up?  Are we pushing our kids to go through curriculum whether they understand it or not to get through the grade level and take the test, though they haven't mastered the concepts?  Why, with so many adaptive learning programs that children can do independently at their own pace, would we accept this mode of operation?  Setting our kids up for failure?  Squashing their creativity?  Suppressing their genius?  Sal Khan has an amazing video on this concept.  So, let's think about what's truly important.  There are better ways out there, we just have to trust our children and give them the freedom to be.

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