Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Riverfront Living

Today, the Mississippi started to rise so high that if it goes up a couple more feet, we are going to have a very wet basement. How exciting! One of the few (IMO) perks of renting is that if that happens, it's only my problem to the extent that my stuff down there, which already smells like mildew, will have to be moved upstairs. I am also happy to report that the landlord took over the front room of the basement with his stuff (and that is the only room that doesn't smell like mildew) but his will be the first to get wet if the river continues going up!

Anyway, it's very exciting living on the edge of one of the biggest rivers in the world.

Last year, when I was in the depths of situational depression (which felt like regular depression, but as I suspected it went away when I changed my situation by moving), a fabulous friend of mine sent me an awesome book called The Power Path, which among other great tips on how to gain power, recommends first and foremost going to nature, because it says all shamen know that you go to something more powerful than yourself to get power. For example, the Mississippi River. And I *do* feel much more powerful (a.k.a. happy) since we moved here. The river feeds my soul.

Anyway, it also happens to be a great place to live for unschooler kids, who have no shortage of things to watch going up and down the river. Plus there is a public fishing dock in our front yard, and a very busy train track out back. And even a drawbridge, which goes up and down several times a day in the summer months, can be seen by the edge of the property.

I sure do wish I could post photos, but Ottar broke the camera again. :(

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Totally Harmonious Interactions

I got really sick of myself recently, noticing how I started telling people over a year ago that "my kids don't really get along anymore." Finally it occurred to me that I don't even know if that's true. So I started paying attention to how often they *do* get along (which is actually still almost always) and sort of informally timing how long the fighting episodes last (which it turns out are usually about 1-2 minutes each, unless I intervene by shouting and threatening, which makes them each last about 20 minutes, plus I end up feeling like a total psycho.)

So, there you have it! Often things are just a matter of perception.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Great Unschooling Book Rec!

Well, I've done it again - I've finished another great unschooling book. This one I stumbled upon in the library - I had never heard of it before. It's called Child's Work: Taking Children's Choices Seriously by Nancy Wallace, who was a close personal friend of John Holt's. It is basically a beautifully written account of one family's experience with unschooling two very talented children. But besides that it is chock full of great insights for the general public! Here are some choice quotes (I copied about 50 of them out of the book, but here are some of my faves):

. . . any time we decide to teach our children the things we are sure they can't learn from experience in the real world, we not only remove them from the very world they are trying so hard to understand, by creating artificial learning situations for them, but we imply that they are incompetent learners and need to rely on our greater expertise and knowledge in order to learn properly.


By reading within whole contexts, [my children] guessed at strange words in order to make sense of phrases and sentences. I know a nine-year-old girl who can read books like Stuart Little fluently, but still can't read random lists of words out of context with any degree of accuracy. (Hence, the school considers her unable to read because she does so poorly on their reading placement test, which is exactly that: random lists of words.)


Children who, as John Holt put it, "observe, wonder, find, or make and then test the answers to the questions they ask themselves" have no conscious sense of "wrong" because like scientists, they are involved in a continual process of moving closer towards what is right - of defining and redefining their views of the world.


Children lose interest in us as teachers as soon as we make ourselves mere passive conveyors of knowledge, like most teachers in school, who try not to reveal their own personal biases and passions for fear of unduly influencing their students and preventing them from learning to think objectively. But children want us to reveal ourselves to them. Just as important, they want and need to be able to reveal their own feelings, ideas, and personal biases to us.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not Back to School!

It's been a crazy summer, and I saw lots of yellow school buses out today. However, since we're NOT going back to school, our summer does not officially end until September 23! Just one of the many advantages of unschooling. . . plus we get to buy any "school supplies" and clothes after they've all been marked down. Joy!

In any case, I just love this time of year because I get so excited to think about various classes we can all take. On the menu (but not ordered yet) for fall are ninja classes for Ezra, Jiu Jitsu for Ezra and Papa, maybe "open build" art and science classes for both kids, swimming lessons for both kids, yoga for Mama (and hopefully kickboxing, too), possibly some Japanese tutoring for Ezra, and we shall see what else. Just waiting for that big paycheck to come in. . . the one we've been waiting for for weeks.

Right now Ezra, who is 7, is still really into martial arts. He's also teaching himself Japanese. Right now he's using a CD/book called Teach Me More. . . Japanese and he is in love with it! Both kids have also requested that I get them the Spanish version from the library. Ezra has also morphed over the spring and summer from being somewhat obsessed with The Civil War and guns, to moving on to submarines, and now he has expanded to be obsessed with World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He spends many hours every day drawing and building battleships, submarines, and aircraft carriers. He is also on a Jesse James kick and he and Ottar spent an entire afternoon last week re-enacting his death.

What I'm trying to work out now is creating a more structured life. As many of you avid fans may recall, I tried doing a schedule last winter (read here). Well, that crashed and burned immediately. I think it is because it was not the kind of thing that is true to my nature. In fact my whole life was untrue to my nature. But now that we're living on the river and close to the Twin Cities, let me start that over. That will be my topic for tomorrow.