Thursday, June 05, 2008

Time to Breathe

So far, you couldn't tell from reading all this that I profess to be a sort of unschooler. Well, there it is. I find it easier to have things thought out ahead of time, and be flexible about the approach. I should remind myself though, now, that I am trying to structure things minimally. I am trying to keep the actual coursework down to 27 x 4 which is basically 110 days. That gives us 35 days for enrichment/variety, and about 35 days for review and exams.

In many ways I find it useful to divide things into three components. I will try to write this out better and perhaps put it on my main blog. Maybe it's a bit similar to Charlotte Mason's: An atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

  • One section I consider to be "disciplina" (instruction). Here is where I fit the systematic skills or "tools" -- phonics in the early years, Latin and math and grammar in the later years.
  • One section is the "inventio" (discovery, exploration). Here I focus on ideas and "enculturation". This can be done in a variety of ways -- unit studies, rabbit trails, "themes". Here is where I usually put history, literature, geography, science, with religion as the head of them all. Here is where I emphasize the "science of relations" -- making connections, thinking philosophically.
  • The final section is basic life skills -- character formation, practical "know how" and also development in areas of particular strength and "gifting". This is where my unschooling probably comes in the most -- my parenting style and the childrens' vocational aptitudes and directions.
Obviously these overlap in many ways, but thinking in the three categories helps me keep my thought processes ordered, and balance out my approach. I notice that we get demoralized if I rely too much on the first approach, confused and scattered if I rely too much on the second, and we drift and get too lax if I stay too closely with the third. Really though, I think the foundational one is the third, and it is possible to meet most or all goals this way. That is where I am a much more comprehensive unschooler in theory, though not always in practice.

Just a few thoughts, very random. ... more like notes for something I am trying to think out carefully enough to actually write up.

All three of the areas must be permeated with space. ...leisure, down time. Breathing in, breathing out. I am still pondering how to make that work in my homeschool. As with any home, down time here seems to get quickly filled with squabbling, desire for screen time, and discontent. With noise and clutter rather than with quiet radiance. But yet, this quote seems to apply:

"It is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant-- and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences on either side... Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space."

1 comment:

  1. Willa,
    Your planning posts have been such a breath of fresh air for me. Things have definately entered the full on unschooling season here as our evenings are full of soccer and swimming, dance recitals etc. (I get tired just writing it!).

    That breathing, leisure time, is so important in every area of our life. I think one of the big areas I am always trying to guard in our life is 'margin'. It is no small feat in this busy world, especially at times among 'busy homeschoolers'!

    Looking forward to seeing how more of your plans are forming. It must be so different for you this year to just have one 7th grader and two small ones.

    Have a great weekend,