Despite the best plans we make, home education
continues to metamorphosise our children,
moving them from one stage to the next.
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Unfold, Open Out, Expand
As far as I’m concerned, in home education, the learning curve is nearly always just plain straight up. There’s not much curve to it. Just as soon as you figure out how to meet your child’s education needs in this current phase of their development, they’re off and changing again, which means that you have to, too.
When we’re interested, we’re always learning something, and I consider that ‘evolving’ describes that process beautifully. I even learned something when I began to research the meaning of the word ‘evolve’:
The Online Etymology Dictionary explains the word like this:
evolve: 1641, “to unfold, open out, expand,” from L. evolvere “unroll,” from ex- “out” + volvere “to roll”. Evolution (1622), originally meant “unrolling of a book;” it was first used in the modern scientific sense 1832 by Scot. geologist Charles Lyell. Charles Darwin used the word only once, in the closing paragraph of “The origin of Species” (1859), and preferred descent with modification, in part because evolution already had been used in the 18c. homunculus theory of embryological development (first proposed under this name by Bonnet, 1762), in part because it carried a sense of “progress” not found in Darwin’s idea. But Victorian belief in progress prevailed (along with brevity), and Herbert Spencer and other biologists popularised evolution.
More modern translations (www.dictionary.com) give us:
“to come forth gradually into being; develop; undergo evolution”
… but in terms of how we evolve in our home education journey, I like the older ‘to unfold, open out, expand’ best of all.
Got Your Sense of Humour Ready?
We all come to this home education thing with plenty of preconceived ideas. It can be a bit like all those notions we had of how our children would behave … before we had them. When we were expecting Hayley, someone sent us this joke via email:
Are you ready for children? Are you sure? You should perform these tests, just to make sure.
- Mess Test: Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Now rub your hands in the wet flowerbed and smear that over the walls, too. Cover the stains with crayons. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.
- Toy Test: Obtain a 55-gallon box of Lego’s. If Lego’s are not available, you may substitute roofing tacks or broken bottles. Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream – this could wake a child at night.
- Grocery Store Test: Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop at the grocery store. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.
- Dressing Test: Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag, making sure that all arms stay inside.
- Feeding Test: Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging, then try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal into the mouth of the jug while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug onto the floor.
- Night Test: Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8-12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. As 8pm begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9pm. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10pm. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4am. Set alarm for 5am. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.
- Physical Test (Women): Obtain a large beanbag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10 of the beans.
- Physical Test (Men): Go to the nearest pharmacy. Set your wallet on the counter. Ask the clerk to help himself. Now proceed to the nearest food store. Go to the head office and arrange for your pay check to be directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.
- Final Assignment: Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training, and child’s table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasise to them that they should never allow their children to run riot. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you have all the answers.
Home education can be like that too. You might even think this website is an exercise in the final assignment (above)! I hope not, but if you do, just click the little red box with the cross in it at the top of your screen – you don’t need to feel like that. You’ll figure it out just fine.
The point is that we all need to be flexible enough and teachable enough to allow the experience to unfold us, open us out and expand us. I encourage you to enjoy your own personal evolutionary process.
“Each painting has its own way of evolving.
When the painting is finished, the subject reveals itself.”
~ William Baziotes