Friday, May 12, 2006

My favorite subject is... Waldorf?

Sunburst and I met with our new family doctor yesterday, and the inevitable question came up. "Are you in school?"

"Well, not exactly school..." Sunburst explained. "We do homeschool. You know, we stay home and mom teaches us stuff." --Which to outside ears sounds much better than what she used to say, "No, I don't go to school. We stay home and my mom lets us do whatever we want." In reality, they DO get to do a lot of what they want. We're fully ensconced in the powers of child-led learning, and for the last several months what Sunburst has wanted is something akin to a home version of "school, student, and teacher." So that's what we've been doing, and she loves it.

But then came a doozy of a question, "What's your favorite subject?"

This to a seven-year-old? Sunburst just looked at her as if she spoke Martian. Her eyes narrowed and her forehead wrinkled up while I waited for a variation of "does-not-compute" to feed out of her mouth on a slip of paper like a receipt machine. Not unlike many other homeschoolers and unschoolers, we make a point to connect life and learning in our house, so of course Sunburst doesn't compute "subject." There are no fast and hard distinctions here:

Sit at your desk, raise your hand, only speak when you're called upon, and no passing notes to the baby. Open your math book to page 32 and do problems 1-16. Use your freshly sharpened #2 pencil and be sure to show your work for full credit. --Which when you're little, is not only a grade but accompanied by a smiley (or not so smiley) face or a sticker, right?

Nah, we don't do that here. But despite the growing popularity of homeschooling in the world today, I'm sure there are plenty of people who still think that this is how it goes-- that we, the great body of homeschoolers, keep our learning confined to separate boxes (named math, English, and science) which we open and close and keep on the shelf and never, ever dump them all out together in a huge pile on the floor and jump in and throw up in the air and sprinkle around like confetti --a little in the garden, a little in the kitchen, a pinch or two under our pillows...

Our homeschooling is like a smorgasbord where they don't have those compartmentalized food trays. A little of this, a little of that. It's all out there for the taking, and we heap our plates as we see fit. Sometimes we go back for seconds, sometimes we push things to the side that maybe don't suit our palates, and sometimes we overindulge and need to push our proverbial chairs back and take a break.

Subject? I decided to help Sunburst out on this one. "Do we do anything fun?"

Her eyes brightened, and she turned back to the doctor. "Oh yes. Mommy tells these stories and we make pictures. I'm learning to draw with block crayons made of beeswax, only I don't outline, I have to start from the middle and shape things out."

What subject is that, exactly? That is the Waldorf approach to all subjects, whether it's mathematics, English, science or whatnot, you learn them through storytelling and art.

So she likes it.

You know what? Me too.

1 comment:

  1. This is SO true -- you say it so much better than I do! We are new to Waldorf; we use Enki materials, but to try to explain what we do (or don't do, LOL!) to other homeschoolers is too much -- for me AND my children. May I share this post on my own blog: ?


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