With me - and I am hoping with most human beings - my ‘head’ life feels very cyclical. When I state ‘head life’ I am referring to the constant roll of thoughts and issues on my mind in conjunction with how I feel about those thoughts and issues in relation to what is happening outside of my head, in the real world.
So: homeschooling. Unschooling. Institutionalization. Research. Culture. Norms. “common sense”.
The last few days a bunch of books came to me through interlibrary loan. Thankfully I live in a library system that lets me search a major metros resources or there is no way I would have found these books to borrow. John T. Gatto, John Holt, Ivan Illich - all names I wrote down from watching Astra Taylors talk at the Walker Art Center ‘The unschooled life’ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwIyy1Fi-4Q).
This is how I make decisions. I read - I think - I read more - I talk. I talk a lot. The last part is where my head really starts rolling - the part where my head life and my mind in the world come together. I realize I live in a place where there is not a large concentration of people, period. There is most definitely no easily identified network of individuals who are interested in having conversations about the things going on in my head life so I reach out to the people I love and who won’t think it is too strange for me to pick their brains a little.
note: I have twin four year old boys. In the state of Minnesota, children who are homeschooled are required to identify as such in the ‘system’ from ages 7-16 and the ‘system’ requires they take an annual standardized test. It is the parents’ responsibility to educate the children in the subjects deemed necessary by the state and upon request the ‘system’ can request proof of schedules, curriculum, resources, etc. - as of 2012, the state can no longer request and demand this information without a court order. Anyhow, thats the basics of the laws for a homeschooler in MN.
Now, ‘common sense’. I keep trying to have conversations about topics that I have thought deeply about for many months, analyzing and adjusting and testing out my perceptions of specific ideas. I keep trying to have conversations about these topics with people who, in many instances, have not thought deeply about them at all. This is one of my many many character faults - I would really like a posse of people always thinking about the same stuff as me and be totally available for spontaneous discussion. This is actually how I think.
In the real world, this doesn’t happen. We all have lives, all over the country, the world, and everyone has their own distinct ‘head life’. So I want to talk about schooling. Education. Children’s lives in our culture. Things that affect each and every one of us, right? So, enter the cultural acceptance of ‘common sense’.
There is nothing common about the sense it takes to intentionally plow a path outside of our cultural institutions and all of the ‘comforts’ it provides. I know I’m not in high school anymore, but why is it I feel constantly compelled, still, to say “just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean its smart or the right thing to do”. Shouldn’t this be obvious as an adult, something that is common sense?
So what is fascinating to me is how many people, in the world not just my social circle (ha, ha), have such strong opinions on something that they have just accepted and fallen in line with rather than researching and thinking deeply about for many months? Why is that common sense? I wish common sense was to stop, listen and think before conveying the standard accepted rules of society. To understand that none of these things exist separate from each other but are completely intertwined and complex. It’s all actually a little complex, and in my opinion the lives that we give our children deserve a little complex consideration.
I am hoping this ends a season of my ‘head life’ by writing it down - but I will still be pondering what in this culture, as a mother of two 4 year olds, is already making me so completely preoccupied with defining and defending my choices as an educating parent because I am pretty sure they should just be having fun for at least a couple more years.