Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not back to school and.... I. AM. A. POTTER.

The beginning of the school year means beaches and parks everywhere are empty... banks, grocery stores, and other places are child-free zones too... Facebook is full of statuses referencing the first day of school.... and I feel compelled to write about it; to reference it too. Only I'm not sure why. I don't want to do my semi-annual "back to prison" rant. Or go on about the hidden lessons school teaches. I don't want to make anyone feel bad. I don't want to make it sound like I think "natural learning" to be the only "right" way. I don't want to forget about the children for whom school is a refuge. Or the single parent families, and other families who financially, emotionally or otherwise really benefit from the support that school provides for them. I also don't want to leave out the children who truly LOVE school; they get along well with the other kids; they are ready for the independence; they love and relate to their teacher- who is also amazing and dedicated; this child is neither ahead or behind, this child is thriving in their grade level. For them school is GREAT! Okay. I think I have covered all my bases. I get it. School can be great, it can be crappy, and it sometimes does or doesn't serve it's purpose.
So just to clarify, this area is for me to write about what our family is doing; to provide a glimpse of what learning looks like for us, because for some, "natural learning" is a new idea, or is something they have wondered about, but don't fully understand. This space is Not for putting-down or being right. Not to preach. Yet occasionally, I like to give a voice to the child who doesn't get a choice, or who is being bullied, or who gets stuck with a teacher who isn't connecting with them; or who maybe has a learning disability that is getting missed.
This space is for sharing our reasons for natural learning, and also what it looks like for us. Great! Now that that's out of the way.....
I wanted to make a comment about it being the first day of school on my fb, but I couldn't as we don't do school.... which led me to "first day of natural learning"?? well, that doesn't make sense, does it? Because natural learning happens all the time, naturally.
So what does the beginning of the school year look like for us??
It looks like making a plan.
It means finding out what our children want to learn about?
What do they wonder about? What do they want to try? What makes them excited?

It looks like finding out, and then creating ways to honor those interests.

It means that this year we will be skating, swimming, dancing, taking nature walks; learning about desert plants and animals; learning about Canada; mermaids, pirates and vikings; we will be having a traditional bellydancing party and feast; and a drumming circle; we will be doing science experiments, learning about sea creatures, and owls; we will be visiting the wildlife recovery center; reading, writing, drawing; learning to play the drums, guitar and violin; exploring sign language, french and spanish; building and beading and playing games; sewing, measuring, counting money; cooking and making our own cook book; learning about RAW food and nutrition; recycling and caring for the environment..... wow, its quite a list.... and the beauty of it, to me at least, is that my little learners came up with it themselves! and maybe we will get to explore all these things this year, and maybe we won't... and probably there's a whole lot of other things that didn't make the list that will come up later... and then the plan will change and grow, just like people do.

OH, and I left something out. POTTERY!
We will be doing pottery! Why? Because as it turns out: I. AM. A. POTTER. I have always been an artist. But I have been resistant to labels. resistant to attaching my identity to any one thing. I like this idea that a person just IS. The things they do, and think and have are separate from their actual identity... that way in the absence of the things they do, think and have, one still IS. But whatever. IS-SHMIS. I'm a potter.
I LOVE It! I love the in-the-moment focus of working on the wheel. I love the feel of my hands getting all mucky. I love that when i screw something up, i can dump it in the bucket and recycle the clay. i love that clay is earth. I love looking at things i've made, realizing I could do better and deciding to let-go of it; smashing it into the muck bucket. I love that glazes are still so mysterious to me. I love that I have no idea what I'm going to get when I paint or pour it on there. I love that there is so much to learn. ~And I love that it is SO good for my children to learn through too. ~Good for them to carve letters and pictures into, good for them to have something to control ~ it's a good thing to push clay around! i love that it teaches them about letting-go, when a piece cracks during is drying process, or when it breaks during firing, I love when they make something they feel proud of, and i love when they choose to give it as a gift...
Yes! with my studio well on it's way to being set up. I. AM. A. POTTER.

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