Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Undeniable Truths of an Un-Unschooler

No that's not a typo in the title. I am an un-unschooler. Meaning I unschooled for a period of time in our homeschool journey. A few years back God took me through a time of refining. I blogged about that in my posts "From Honeymoons to Homeschooling". So I won't go into that again here. But to fully understand why I became an unschooler for over a year and a half that should be read first.

That time transformed me, my marriage, and my homeschooling. It is the homeschooling that I would like to focus on now.During the "unschooling period" I learned a few undeniable truths.

Undeniable Truth #1 - Life doesn't revolve around me.
Now, this may seem like a no brainer to most but it was a revelation for me. I had lived over half of my life (I'm 42) believing I was the most important thing to me. I take full responsibility for my arrogance. I chose to believe the lie that if you work hard and play by the rules then you have the right to decide how your life goes. That belief was reinforced by my academic achievements in my youth. As long as I maintained good grades and stayed out of trouble I could pretty much live my life the way I wanted. Thankfully, my parents instilled a bit of morality so I avoided major hardships. But I still lived my life according to me.

God used marriage and young children to dispense with some of this foolishness. But there was a lot of ground to cover. Unschooling provided the perfect hammer to shatter my personal idol of academic achievement. I wanted my children to achieve and succeed so that the "Big I" would look good. Another achievement to brag aboout. It was still about me. When the Lord took away my idea of homeschooling and I unschooled, I realized that homeschooling wasn't about me. Surprise! But quite honestly this revelation was a welcome relief. God gave our family an eternal vision that was not centered around me or academic success. The pressure to perform was finally off.

Undeniable Truth #2 - Life doesn't revolve around my children.
Someone asked me a while back why I homeschool. Without thinking I answered, "Because I don't want my life centered around my children." That may seem like a bit of an oxymoron for a homeschooler (or any parent) but it's not for me. It took unschooling to show me this truth as well.

When I first began to homeschool I was determined to do it "right". I sacrificed other things that should have been more important to fit in all that I thought we had to do to make homeschooling the perfect experience. So instead of meeting the needs of those around me and listening to the voice of the Lord, I confined myself to calendars and curriculum. They became my master. And I their slave. Believing that this was "best for the children". But what is best for the children is not always best for the family. Nor is it always God's plan. Unschooling gave me the liberty to listen to the children and follow many of their interests.

But I also learned during that unschooling time that it should not be completely up to the children to decide what they wanted to learn. If I did that then I would raise a duplicate of me. (See Undeniable Truth #1) Only I wouldn't have the schools to blame. I hoped for something better. Unschooling showed me that life and school cannot revolve around the children. It is good to let them have time to explore free from constraints but direction and guidance is necessary.

Undeniable Truth #3 - I don't measure God's call by the world's standard.
This is another obvious truth but it wasn't to me. Not until I unschooled and realized how much worldly academic success mattered to me. I lived much of my life for a test score. I realized that I didn't want the same for them. It is good to know that my chilren are learning what they need to and progressing forward. It is quite another to become anxious when they are a little behind in a subject and worrry that their lack was my failure. When I unschooled I learned that children learn many things on their own. They have a natural curiousity and wonder that drives them to "want to know". When I force them to prove that they have learned something just to know that they have learned it, I can actually discourage their learning and progress. The grade or score becomes the reason to learn and not the knowledge itself. The Lamb's Book of Life is not a grade book. We don't get in by being in the 90th percentile. If God doesn't measure advancement that way, why should I?

Undeniable Truth #4 - God loves my children more than I do
I can hear the "duh of course HE does" as you read that. After all Jesus died on the cross didn't He? Sure, but that doesn't mean I live that way every day. And when it came to homeschooling I know I didn't. Isaiah 54:13 says,
"And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children."
When I teach my children about HIM the peace will be great! God wants my children to know Him and about His creation because HE loves them too! He wants them to prosper and do well. He does not desire them to stumble. Through unschooling I learned to walk in that truth.

If I were to put a label on how I school now, I would say we are homeschooling God's way for us. May it always be so.

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