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Monday, July 15, 2013

What Is Natural?



Today many people, disillusioned with the American Dream and the frenetic pace of modern life, are making intentional efforts to live more simply and naturally. Some of these people are homeschoolers. So many people are unhappy, going through the motions of what "normal" people are supposed to do, how they were conditioned to think they should live and what they were told they should want from life. If they finally reach a particular goal, or find the right career or the right mate, they will be happy. And then they still aren't. So they set their sights on acquiring the next possession, pair of shoes, degree, or wife that will be the right fit, the missing piece. And they get it, and their life is still devoid of meaning. The restlessness never goes away.

Maybe my own restlessness led me to study unschooling. Maybe I was thinking that there should be more, somehow, to our days. Sometimes Beezy would ask to do school, impatient to get started. Sometimes she wanted to do more than I had planned. But sometimes she wanted to do something different, something that didn't seem to me to be as high a priority; so I would say we had to focus so we could get school over with (now that's telling, isn't it?), and then she could do what she wanted. I came to feel that our lives revolved around our school time, even though it was a comparatively short time during the day.

Then last Valentine's Day, I let making valentines and baking shortcake be the priority. We had so much fun, and that day is still a shiny one in my mind. Why couldn't every day be so joyful? Of course, not every day is a holiday. Or is it? Holiday. The combining of two original words: "holy" and "day". Holy Day. 

Yesterday Beezy had a "true or false" quiz in her 4-H project book. She caught on to the idea, but I could tell that while she knew the information, the phrasing of the statements was confusing. It didn't immediately occur to me that she had never taken a test, so this was a new experience. Then I had a distant recollection of feeling confused myself as a child taking such tests. Remember multiple choice questions? You might have known the answer if you hadn't been confused by sorting through all the choices. I don't think tests really show what a child knows, how well she knows it, or how well she thinks through a question. In college, I always preferred essay tests. I could usually be sure of having something to write. I could show what I knew, rather than be exposed for what I didn't know. A true or false test shows relatively nothing about what Beezy knows about dogs.

I really hope that homeschool curriculum tests aren't like this. If they are, I can understand why unschoolers are reviled by school-at-home methods. That being said, there are 100 ways to skin a cat, right? (Isn't that the weirdest saying?) Homeschooling, no matter the method or curriculum used (or not used), is a lifestyle. It gives families greater freedom to be who they naturally are, to become the people God created them to be. If we don't get bogged down by arbitrary requirements and someone else's schedule, or even by our own. What if every day could be a holy day?

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