There's been an interesting discussion on my homeschool group's forum this month. This question came from a first-year homeschooling mom who is trying to tread the waters of unschooling i.e.: detoxing her kids from the way of the system so that they can then move into their way of learning. She asked,
"When does it stop feeling wrong?"
"Wrong" meaning that uncomfortable feeling that we all probably experience when we realize our child isn't experiencing what everyone else's child is experiencing?
It's an interesting question to me for semantic purposes. What does my new friend mean by "wrong?" Not right? Not right in whose eyes? Not right for her child? Not right in the global set up of society? What kind of society?
I can't say that I have ever felt "wrong" for what I do. I've felt unsatisfied, unqualified, and frustrated. I've been impatient with the process and wished for the end result to happen way before its time. I've wanted to give up, questioned my methods and philosophy, been jealous of other families, painted unrealistic scenarios of alternate choices. In retrospect, I've even set myself up for failure and sabotaged my own efforts.
But I've never felt wrong.
My entire "career" I've actually felt right. Right for the moment, right for the child, right for the end goal, right for his weaknesses, right for my passions, right for this season in life. But the next moment, next child, next goal, next weakness, passion or life season... well, that is anybody's guess. I don't go into the next moment a lot. I can't rightly anticipate what it will hold.
We could define wrong using other terms: incorrect, unsatisfactory, perverse, mistaken, misguided, erroneous and so on. But I think the definition in my friend's head at this point in her homeschooling career is probably, "bad." "It's bad to homeschool my child and give them experiences that are out of the norm."
When we start ascribing moral judgments on this amoral thing that we do, we can easily fall into the darkness of doubting. All revolutionaries must feel it at some point, but the point where they succeed is when they grow accustomed to wrong feeling a lot like right.
I watched another TED video today on this very topic. You can see it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html
Kathryn Schultz says this: "The miracle of your mind isn't that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn't."
When we determine to homeschool our kids, we are seeing the world as it isn't. We are projecting into the unwritten future what our kids will look like as a result of our intervention and involvement in their academic education. We create a goal for them and move them toward it. They, of course, aren't always going to reach that goal, but that doesn't make us wrong. It makes us, and them, human. We envision things differently. "That's why," Kathryn says, "we get things wrong."
But "the source and root of all our productivity and creativity" is our obsession with figuring everything out, our desire to get things right. That desire is evident when we see that the nation's classrooms are producing things that we don't think we can produce, so we enroll our kids. But when the classrooms fail in productivity and creativity we figure out how to make those things happen and we bring our kids home. It's the way we're made. As co-creators, and I would say as co-creators designed by God, we continually seek the renewal of all things. We won't stop doing it.
"When it comes to our stories [plot twists, red herrings, etc], we love being wrong. Our stories are like this because our lives are like this. We think one thing is going to happen and something else happens instead."I can't predict how my children will respond in retrospect or what effect my efforts will really have. But neither can those who are publicly educated. They may look at me in 10 years and say, "Mom you really screwed me up," or, "Mom, you were a visionary and a prophet," or they may be ambivalent and just go on with their life. I think one of these is more likely than the other, but what I think is going to happen may not be what actually happens. The outcome is completely not up to me.
But I don't feel wrong. I feel charged with a vision and when I hit a bump that seems insurmountable, I turn. Something else will happen. And it will be right.