Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Honor of Terrible Ideas.....

"In Honor of Terrible Ideas...." has become a powerful sentence around here. It prefaces what one is about to say next as a possibly terrible idea! It tells the hearer that the idea-giver already knows it is potentially crazy! It tells the hearer to be kind.... it also creates a kind of humor and lightness surrounding the creating of our life.

I'm sharing this phase because before our use of it, one would share a truly terrible idea- without the preface, with not always a very good outcome. Sometimes people hear Crazy ideas and feel scared, or offended, or defensive, or afraid.... In Honor Of Terrible Ideas has been a useful tool.... Prefaced by this Honor, a number of truly terrible ideas have been shared! And a number of truly terrible ideas that have turned out to be great (or at least good learning experiences) have been shared....

In Honor of Terrible Ideas.... (a list of ideas from our past that at first, seemed truly terrible! or at least seemed to hold the potential to be terrible...)
Let's have a baby at home!
Let's not vaccinate at all this time
Hey, what if we didn't mush up the baby's food, or buy jarred food what if we just shared our food with him
What if I just sleep with him, instead of fully waking to nurse every couple hours
What if I accept that nursing throughout the night is a need, and I don't try to force him to sleep through the night
What if I nurse him as long as he wants to
What if we don't send our children to school.... (which later led to...)
Hey, what if we let them learn through play and interest instead of imposing this curriculum
What if we give our children plenty of extra time, space and freedom to learn things they find challenging, instead of trying to "make" something happen... what if 10 yo IS the "normal" age for our children to start reading
What if we make instruments available to play, but not lessons or teaching unless hounded to do so
What if we abandon classical discipline like time-outs, and rewards; in favor of sincere, gentler teaching
In Honor of Terrible Ideas.... that we still don't know the outcome of, but the ride has been fun...
What if we try to book a cabin for our vacation this year
What if we put our house for sale for a bit and see what happens
What if we renovate, knocking out some walls here, building walls here, and putting windows here
What if we get a puppy, if we get a house
What if we tried to build one of those in-ground trampolines
...or a cob playhouse
....Or a pottery studio....
or started a local learning circle....
AND some ideas were indeed Truly Terrible (for our family).... and now we know... :D
What if we got a chinchilla
What if we abandon bedtimes altogether
Let's sell everything we own and live in a camper-ized bus! (would still like to do some variation of this, one day.... but it is a Terrible Idea ;)
What if we try doing curriculum for a bit
What Terrible Ideas have you Honored lately?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Is There Such a Thing as Organic Intervention?

Is There Such a Thing as Organic Intervention?

I was led to asking this question after researching and digesting a massive amount of suggested “interventions” related to my daughters learning disabilities.

Something feels really icky about it. I felt unrest. I felt anxious. And what was worse I couldn’t put my finger on why. These interventions imply that each day “should” be scheduled, that specific subjects and tasks be done at specific times, and in a specific way. These interventions feel un-natural, wrong, and yucky, and these suggestions sound like things that will not “work” for my girl. So for days I have been thinking things over and trying to make sense of these ideas.

How could I make peace with these interventions, and hold true to our Natural Learning lifestyle? Do I need to make peace with these “interventions“? Do I need to honor them? or do I need to pay attention to the feeling that these ideas are not sitting right with me?

Lately, I’m hearing comments like “academically, we need to work hard to get her caught up….“ Caught up to who? I dare to ask. Caught up to her peer group? Caught up to her grade level? Caught up to.... herself? For what purpose exactly? Is she in a race with her peers? With the world? Do we value a system that wants to produce cookie-cutter people? Does my daughter want to be a cookie-cutter person? Does she desire SAMENESS with everyone else? Do I want to convey the message that “Sameness” is something we value and pursue?

Same knowledge, same abilities, same goals.
Certainly this sameness is NOT on my list of priorities.

I have also heard the thoughts that natural learning carries a big risk of easily getting behind. Again, behind whom? And in what? And so the fear is of what then? That one might not “catch-up”? That one might not reach a level of perceived “sameness” with the world? And that surly this would lead one to have trouble graduating, getting into a good college and making money? Is that the fear? Assuming of course, that money is all important! What if they never learn to complete tasks on time? Is that the fear? Is it time management?

Some have also expressed well-meaning concern that if our daughter had been in the regular public school system, perhaps the school would have noticed she needed help sooner; maybe they would have provided her with the help she needed earlier. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps “Sooner” would not have been beneficial to her. In fact, I’m pretty sure the timing needed to be right for her, and that rightness can only be determined by her. And I’m pretty convinced that her and I, by learning together for the whole 10 years she’s been alive, have a very good handle on how she learns best, and what things are most challenging for her. In a school system with a 15% illiteracy rate among grade 10 students and a country with a 40% overall illiteracy rate, I have serious doubts that this institution would have done anything near what her and I have accomplished together.

I would like to venture a theory of my own….
Perhaps, "some" public school children are “behind”….
behind as I would define it, according to what I value.
Behind in the ability to communicate in an authentic, honest, respectful way,
behind in the ability to form quality relationships with people of a variety of ages;
Behind in the ability to accept, to co-operate instead of compete and compare.
Behind in recognizing and developing their our unique talents.

Maybe “some” of these children would benefit from an Organic Intervention?

The kind of intervention that allows them to sleep in, to have slow, unhurried mornings.
The kind of intervention that would
have them putting their hands and feet in the dirt to grow food;
the kind that would have them learning
what kinds of foods are good for healing and healthy living;
maybe they could learn how to prepare these foods.
The kind of intervention that involves following a curiosity,
finding a mentor and learning all about whatever interest gives them life;
the kind of intervention that would hold that passion as more valuable than Sameness.

The kind of intervention that would involve volunteer work,
and getting to know Grammas and Grampas from many families.
The kind of intervention that would allow a child to spend time in a room full of instruments,
and the freedom to play each one,
to write their own songs.

The kind of intervention that walks in the woods,
and plays along the creek; throwing rocks, spotting fish and birds.
An intervention that involves being with ones family way more days than not;
an intervention that involves chasing butterflies- both real and figurative.
The kind of intervention that encourages creativity,
and the valuing of process over outcome.
The kind of intervention that would encourage literacy through the exploration of interests; reading and research would happen for the same reasons it happens for adults,
it would arise naturally,
dare I say Organically.

I guess that answers my question; there is such a thing as Organic Intervention! For this is what we’ve been doing all along. And as far as learning disabilities go, we will not be abandoning our Natural Learning ways. It took 5 years of consciously following this path to build faith; to see it working. I did not worry that my daughter would get behind in learning to walk, or talk, or eat solid foods; I trusted whole-heartedly that she was designed to do those things, and naturally would. I have seen a motivation for learning in her that was also put there by a designer; she is perfect and beautiful and anything but learning “dis-abled” in my eyes. She is a living, breathing, growing, learning being.

She is naturally a Blue Rose; why would I want intervention to make her Red?