Monday, November 16, 2009

Beauty and Balance

Another blast from the past, this one was published in Live Free Learn Free magazine in 2006.

Do you ever find yourself with tears in your eyes over silly stuff? Just a tiny moment that speaks of the beauty of life, like a scene in one of your kid’s cartoons, or an ad in a magazine, or a moment in your life that seems like a gift. Gifts from beyond are not silly, of course, but try to explain the reason you are crying to someone else and it might make you feel a little silly. I find myself having these moments more and more now that we are unschooling. I remember the first time I found myself crying over something I would have deemed insignificant. It was a Hallmark card commercial on TV when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was never one to go for touchy-feely sentiments and it took me by surprise. I had little idea then of how having children and sharing my life with them would change me. And since I have found unschooling, my life has been changed so deeply, it brings me to tears more than ever.

Unschooling seems to me to be the recognition of life as a series of moments you only get once, and the vow to do them right the first time. Children come into the world with no concept of life beyond the Now and it is a shame we put so much effort into abusing them of that gift. We should be learning from them about how life is a series of silly moments. You can either brush them off miserably in your haste to “do something” or “get somewhere”, or you can sit and laugh with wonder at the perfection.

I have learned from my second child about how each moment Is what it Is and how you can move on to joy from despair, in only a moment. Really. She can go from shrieking to giggling in 10 seconds flat. No grudges held for this one. We cannot control what life gives us, but we sure can control how we deal with it. We can choose to be the source of situations that our children have to exercise their amazing ability to forgive over, or we can partner with them in joy.

Unschooling focuses on the relationships in our lives, so that we can clear the way for joy and beauty and love and trust. Ask yourself each time you interact with those you love, if what you wish to do or say adds to the love between you or subtracts from that love. If this were your last breath on earth, would you choose to waste it yelling at your child or forcing them to fill out worksheets? Relationships are the most important things in life; they are what give our life meaning. It is not what we have; it is who we get to share what we have with.

Unschooling is not so much about learning as it is about living. Learning is inevitable, so they go hand in hand, but to really embrace unschooling, you almost have to forget about the learning. You don’t stop providing interesting stuff and experiences for your children, but you start to do it in the interest of a life well lived, not a learning moment. You buy the video game because it is fun, not because your child might learn something from it. You go to the museum to look at interesting stuff because you enjoy it, not for the educational opportunities. The really cool thing is that the learning happens anyway, even, and especially, if you don’t plan and scheme for it to happen. People really do learn what they need, when they need it. For me, to believe otherwise would be a serious lack of faith in a higher order and purpose to life.

There is a balance to be found between living in the moment and living in the world with others who do not share your belief that the moment is paramount. Too much laissez faire education does look to the world like educational neglect. Rest assured, it usually means they just don’t know what they are seeing. However, engaging your children in the world and showing them all that life has to offer is our job as unschooling parents. To allow our children to think the world is only what they know and have seen so far is to do them a disservice. My mother used to say that what I knew could fill a book, and at first I took it as a compliment. Then she would say that what she knew could fill the encyclopedia on our shelves, and I realized that what she was saying was that there was always more to learn. She knew more than me due to her longer life, but what there was out there to know could fill every book in the world and then some. As long as they know that there is more to know and as long as you strive to show them ever more, unschooling will flourish. That is to say, your lives will be full and interesting and, well, worth living.

Find the balance between striving and being, reaching and relaxing, living for and just living. Find that place and unschooling will become living and that will be a beautiful thing. Watch out, it just might bring you to tears.

Copyright 2006 by Miranda Demarest


Tara @ TheOrganicSister said...

love this one too. it is sometimes a tough thing to balance but it's always where the best stuff is.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your thoughts on unschooling.