Thursday, May 9, 2013

More Thoughts Related to Educational Philosophy

In this previous post I expressed my educational philosophy and in a second post I elaborated on what this educational philosophy might look like when employed on a daily basis.  In this post I hope to present what is required of me as a parent attempting to employ this educational approach.  There is so much that I could have written about, including practical techniques and approaches, yet what I was most inspired to express were these six points.
COURAGE:  A life well lived requires courage regardless of educational philosophy; however, the further you journey down the "road less traveled" the more it seems to require.  Doubt will creep in and fear will rear its ugly head over and over again.  This dual-headed dragon must be courageously slayed.  Then you must stand on conviction, focus on your vision and relationships and vigorously resume your journey in faith.
CONVICTION:  Know what you believe and why you believe it.  Work toward being capable of articulating and defending your beliefs.  Then act upon those beliefs with determination, conviction.  Write it down.  Continue to refine it.  Come back to it over and over as a way to gird you up, to keep you focused.
VISION:   The Bible likens children to arrows in our quivers.  An archer will recognize the importance of each of the arrows in his quiver, he will tend to them, maintaining them so that when it is time for them to fulfill their intended purpose they will be in the best condition possible.  When the archer removes each arrow from the quiver and nocks it in the bow, it is done at a meaningful time and with purpose.  He shoots the arrow in a very particular direction aiming at a particular target.  Like the archer we, as parents, must care for and nurture each of our children knowing that there will be a time in which they must be sent out as adults in to the world to fulfill their individual missions.  Helping them identify and actualize their mission is, in part, the target that I aim my children towards.  As vision is inextricably interwoven with conviction, I have numerous beliefs that are part of my overall vision for myself, my family, my children.  They become part of our family culture, part of what makes us distinct as a family 
VIGOR:  Be a 'suck the marrow out of life' type of person.  Live life curiously.  Live it enthusiastically. Dream.  Attempt to pursue those dreams.
Many of us would say that this is how we would like our children to approach life.  We may give them some verbal encouragement in this direction but really they need us to model it for them.  They need us to develop this approach to life as a part of our family culture.
If you are found roaming the stacks of the library or bookstore and finding new books to take home for your perusal, you will soon find your children roaming parallel shelves and their stacks of books will be found alongside yours at home. 
If you ask the craftsman at the craft fair about his trade and how he got started, you will soon find the children making their own connections in the community.
If you hear the song of a bird and wonder who it belongs to, they too will learn to listen, observe and question.
Pursue your own interests and dreams.  Do this not in a self-absorbed manner but in concert with those around you, those with whom you share your life.
Be interesting and be interested.
Be interested in what the children are expressing interest in.  Listen to them and their thoughts.  Learn from them.  Vigorously live and learn together.
FAITH:  It seems that all of life is an act of faith but, as I said in regards to courage, the further down the "road less traveled" you venture the more necessary it becomes.  You must confidently put your trust in a process that you likely have not witnessed the results of before.  You must confidently put your trust in your children, yourself and your relationship with them.  Conviction and vision and prayer are what help me maintain faith and continue on this journey.
RELATIONSHIP:  An absolutely essential component of the educational philosophy that accompanies our lifestyle of living is relationship.  Allow me to digress for one moment and make some distinctions between the approaches taken by the typical school and that of our lifestyle of learning.  Envision education as a road trip.  The traditional schooling model would view each student as seeking to arrive at the same destination - Destination College-Because-It-Is-The-Only-Path-To-Success.  With that destination in mind they then outline an homogenous route for the students, allowing for very little deviations.  On occasion they might be compelled to allow for a secondary destination - Destination Vo-Tech/Military.  They seem to be loathe to accept this as a viable destination and when they do they will outline an homogenous route for each of these students to travel on.  My educational approach begins with a different set of assumptions.  I do not assume that each of my children have the same destination.  I do not even assume that their journey's begin at the same point of departure.  Although each of my children have been placed in the same family their individual road trips have differing points of origin.  Each them have been woven together in my womb as unique individuals.  They each have unique personalities and temperaments, thought processes and interests.  And, as assuredly as they begin their educational road trips at different departure points their destinations are uniquely their own.  Even with commonalities in departure and destination points each one would prefer to take a different route.  One might prefer the direct route of the interstate while another might prefer to meander down the more circuitous path of the by-roads.
I am sure that it is apparent that this latter educational approach requires relationship.  I have to spend time with each of my children - not just quality of time but quantity of time as well.  I need the good moments and bad moments - authentic moments.  I strive to know who they are, how they process the world, what makes them tick, what revs their engines.  I have to talk with them.  I have to listen to them.  I have to laugh with them.  I have to cry with them.  I have to communicate and observe and interact.  This is an ongoing process as human beings grow and change.
I share my time, life, heart and personal journey with my children.
All of this allows trust to build.  Trust is requisite.

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