Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wabi-Sabi Homeschooling

If you fiddle this way and that with the flowers and consequently they wither, that will be no benefit. It is the same with a person's life.  --Sen Soshitsu XV

I found this quote in The Wabi-Sabi House: the Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. I have written of this book before in regard to decorating one's home. Now I am pondering its applications to homeschooling. Wabi-sabi strikes me as an unschooling way of living. Arranging flowers as they are found in nature, un-arranging them, you might say, is like allowing a child's natural learning processes to shape her education. To let her be herself, not try to turn roses into daffodils, or vice versa. Using organic colors, natural materials, and items from the great outdoors--bird nests, feathers, rocks, wildflowers--to beautify one's home is akin to ditching a commercial curriculum in favor of custom designing (or un-designing) life to best meet the needs of your children. To allow spontaneous discovery, curiosity and interest-led learning, to give a child the respect of letting her make her own connections. And not assuming that I know more than she does.

Example:  Yesterday I thought I had a "teaching moment" to share with Beezy as we were watching the chimney at the Vatican online and waiting for the smoke to signal whether or not we had a new Pope. I started to tell her about the smoke when she assertively proclaimed that she already knew all about it. How? Did they talk about it in religious education class? No, her grandma, who is not Catholic, told her. I didn't even know about the meaning of the smoke colors until I heard about it on Catholic radio! And that was just yesterday. We do miss some things by not having TV, evidently.

I am beginning to understand, truly, even though I have been saying all along that anyone can be your child's teacher. Homeschooling opens up opportunities for education in the whole, wide world, not limited to the home or the child's parents. This is exactly how I want it to be! And this is what happens sometimes when we try to "teach" our children, when we assume that they will only learn something if we directly put the knowledge into their heads--we insult them. Even if Beezy had not already known about the smoke, I could have waited for her to ask why we were watching a chimney, or until the smoke came out and she wanted to know why everyone was cheering. I was the one who received the lesson this time. So humbling. So wabi-sabi.

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