Sunday, 30 November 2008

The autonomous journey

Really, I cannot be a fully paid up member of the autonomous home ed collective. To be educating autonomously means that the child leads everything. Every inquiry, every illogical and impenetrable, confusing, irritating WTF mind jump.

One minute you are explaining how radiators work and suggesting you build a scaled model of a central heating system, even though you do not know yourself and hope there is a book in the library. And just as you are trying to think through that process: to create order out of chaos: to logically order that junk of stuff in that mummy-mashed brain and do right educationally by your small dependent Squirrel, you find she is bored already, and has wandered off to stuff Sindy doll in the freezer in a cryogenics experiment. Then while you wonder whether to chase Squirrel and pin her down with copper piping and a ventilator fan, Tiger is slicing through your brain with a squealing hot knife of Sharksaysthecameraishers! Sharksaysthecameraishers! And if that is not enough, Shark appears clutching a broken camera and inquiring sweetly, Can we make cake?

Basically, the combination of me, triplets and autonomous education, in this house, all together, does not equate. No-one would get anything done. And I would have to revert to Plan A. Suicide.

So what do I do? I plot. I plan. I think ahead. I use diaries, think about maths days and work out how to get everyone interested in the functions of the liver. I do not mind being a strewer, a fat controller, a spy, a tracer of paths. Because to educate fully autonomously requires that huge well of emotional resilience, a steely, steady nerve, more resistance, inner peace and calm vision than I can ever possess.

Anyway, if I was in doubt, and for one moment believed I could do the autonomous walk in full and complete confidence, without medication or alcohol abuse, then let this moment disabuse me of that thought.

I have just picked this up from the floor.
Daer Jacky
I am in a ces. How are yuo. Plass com to me. I am at ces hper 2. Lot of love from feer. xxxx
I freely admit. I am planning right now how to introduce spelling games into Squirrel's world and make her think she is decorating a balloon.


Gill said...

" logically order that junk of stuff in that mummy-mashed brain and do right educationally by your small dependent.."

Hey! You've been to our house! You've seen inside my head!

Oh wait..

"Because to educate fully autonomously requires that huge well of emotional resilience, a steely, steady nerve, more resistance, inner peace and calm vision.."

You haven't.

I suppose my nerves are a bit steadier - some days - than they were when I had three just out of school, aged 7, 9 and 10 but only because I've had 10 years of proof that even I couldn't really stuff it up all that much.

But inner peace..? It's more of a theory than an actual state, these days, especially when - like right now - there's a kitchen full of washing up to do, all teenagers have scarpered, and the baby wants to help me :-O *panic*

I can see how planned learning is reassuring. I just could never get it to work out as planned. If you can, you've got steelier nerves than me. Oh yes you have! (It being pantomime season..)

Grit said...

gill, i don't know why, but i cannot get it out of my head that you are a woman of deep calm and tremendous vision. oh yes you are!

Gill said...

LOL, ohhh no I'm not.. (He's behind you!)

Seriously, that's just my online persona. Offline I'm more like this.

OvaGirl said...

It seems incredibly huge and quite inspiring actually.

Very different to that cabbage which was terrifying yet oddly familiar and definitely related to the broccoli in my (hah!) crisper.

mamacrow said...

i like the term 'semi-structured'. I came across the term on someone's blog somewhere and totally stole it.

and i like Melissa Whiley's tidal concept - with high tide and low tide days. I find our natural rhythm is a bit like that.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh dear, for a minute I mis-read it and thought you were planning your suicide. i was about to wade in with hints, not that I've done any planning like that myself you understand.

i don't wish to sound like a right-wing education fascist...but don't children like just a teensy bit of structure, and therefore the autonomous thing would be not such a good plan? Have you noticed how i'm trying to be very tactful instead of saying, well that sounds like bollox, how could you do that with triplets anyway?? So that was my convoulated way of saying i think your way is best Grit. Err, who is Jackie and what is a 'ces'?

sharon said...

Autonomous spelling, free-form English, English as she is spoke?
Maybe a bit of 'spelling' is in order even if it's only so that the rest of us can work out what Squirrel is writing.

Gill said...

I like the term 'structured autonomy'. We've done things that way, sometimes, when a child has requested it.

As for autonomous learning/ radical unschooling being 'bollox' - I think you'll find several million people on the planet disagreeing with you but hey, each to their own ;-)

I'm sure your way is best for you Grit, otherwise you wouldn't be doing it that way. But with my five here, I find autonomous learning works best for them and is easier for me in some ways - harder in others.

I found it took me a lot of effort to make them pay attention and even when I did, they weren't really interested or engaged unless they were in the driving seat. But maybe I'm just weak, and my children just wilful and it's completely different for other people.

Every family is different, isn't it? :-)

Linda said...

Came here via Bubble & Squeak and your post "10 reasons not to home educate" which brightened my day considerably. So I decided to keep reading.

So funny, because I think most in the autonomous/unschool camp would say exactly the same -- "that huge well of emotional resilience, a steely, steady nerve, more resistance, inner peace and calm vision.." -- about school-at-home/directed learning. I suppose it is all in your perspective and your personality and lifestyle, as to how you react to different systems. Planned learning I think would do me in.

And I'm sure there are some extremists who would disagree with me, but... I don't just wait for my kids to tell me what they want to learn. I share things with them all the time that I find interesting or that I think they might find interesting. A lot of some people would probably call that "teaching". Whatever. What's important to me is only that I don't hamper their love of learning, or their natural confidence, by trying to force something they have no interest in, and are maybe not emotionally or developmentally ready for, or that maybe is an approach that is all wrong for them. All the important things *will* come, not necessarily on my timeline or in my way, but surely in theirs. Much of my personal work is in maintaining patience. And trust that their brains and hearts are as capable of creating rich, meaningful lives for them as mine is for me.

Grit said...

hello people! and this is interesting to me that home educators have so many educational philosophies and approaches and insights into learning, that i think it is a very positive thing to share these ideas constructively with non-he people. not to convert, but to discuss.

and i have no idea who jacky is, although i am making inquiries. and a ces? well my first thought was cess pit, since we talk about these things routinely (...or i may have referred to their bedroom as such).

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ahhh, some lively debate in a comments box! never a bad thing ;-)