Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I Worry About The Children

But not in the way you imagine.

I worry that they will be judged harshly for what they do not know. Compared to school kids and seen as coming up short.

Notice I do not worry about what they do not know yet, for intelligence is measured not by what you know but by how you think. That is, except for in school. There your intelligence is judged by what you know more than how you think.

I do not worry about my children, for I know how they think. I see every day how they approach life and learn what they need, when they need it. I am assured of their intelligence by watching them conquer their goals and live life as they choose.

I have a deep respect for the way their brains amass information on their own schedules. I see how when they want to know something it comes to them very easily. There is no struggle to understand. The desire to know leads very quickly and painlessly to the information being incorporated into their body of knowledge. Only when I try to impose an external schedule (say what other five year olds in school are learning), does the process break down and the struggle begin. It is not worth the damage it does to my relationship with my children to force facts into them. It is not worth the damage to their self esteem when they are made to feel "less than" by well meaning others who tell them what they "should" know. What they should know is what they do know. No more and no less.

You could say we are focused on the journey, not the destination. We are living life fully, Now, not preparing for it, and inadequately at that.

So, when those who do not understand our goals and priorities try to judge us by their goals and priorities, I know that they will be judged harshly. And I worry that this will somehow be revealed to my children and they will suffer for it. I do not worry that, given time and greater understanding of mine and my husband's thoughts on these matters, my children will ultimately feel bad about themselves and their intelligence. But when they are young and impressionable, there is some risk to our approach. And it is my job to protect them from that danger, just as I would protect them from a speeding car or a hot stove. I see the danger, they don't. I will do what is necessary to protect them from it, until they are out of danger or old enough to understand and protect themselves.

I know how much of an enigma I am to worry where I "shouldn't" and not to worry where I "should". In the grand scheme of things, my worry is tiny and short lived compared to the worry of the masses. As soon as my children gain the wisdom to protect themselves and the small body of knowledge everyone is so worried about, my worry will evaporate. But since you can never know everything, the rest of the world will always worry if they know "enough". Too much worry for me.


Ren said...

"You could say we are focused on the journey, not the destination. We are living life fully, Now, not preparing for it, and inadequately at that."

Awesome! I love that we blogged about the same idea, you said it more poetically though.:)

kelli said...

Just wanted to tell you that you have a beautiful blog!

I just found you through Ren's. :D

I also sometimes worry about the things you were referring to, but as the kids get older those worries seem to diminish bit by bit. :)

Snavleys said...

Very well said!! I just found your blog because Ren (my sis) posted about it. Beautiful! I was just thinking this morning, after a conversation, that it is more important that my kids know how to think than have a bunch of facts crammed in. It is so true!

Miranda said...

Thanks, everyone, for the nice words. I am excited to get some of my favorite bloggers commenting on mine, thanks to Ren!

Flo said...

Yes! Also interesting about this argument is that it is a universal application. It is not only "facts" that everyone forces on our kids, but also "behaviors".

We just had an incident at the grocery store with an offer of stickers to C and then a lecture on "The Magic Words." UGH! C had no idea what she was talking about and felt terrible about it. Where do theh standards and testing end?!

I'm beginning to see more and more how unschooling crosses many borders. Thanks for your poignancy, Miranda.

Papa said...

Well done Miranda.

Everyone should worry about the real issues (the environment, war, poverty, homelessness, etc) and get so hung up on the propaganda and the amenities.