Wednesday, September 24, 2014

That Place of Trust

I've been following the buzz around Outside Magazine's recent online article about homeschooling that is grounded in children playing and exploring freely in nature.

You may have seen the article, it has a lovely photo of the author's son setting off across a frozen body of water, handwoven pack strapped on his back, knife in pocket, sticks in hand, you just know he is going to build a fire on the ice, or someplace nearby, and with it experience an elemental gathering of earth, air, fire and water, creating a mood of adventure and interest in the world, harkening back to the primeval, to what it means to be human. 

The article is written by fellow Vermonter and homeschooler, umm... I mean un-schooler... Ben Hewitt. I'm not saying we're fellow un-schoolers, although I will confess that  I do have an inclination towards a self directed, free play in nature, sort of childhood.

One might say that Waldorf education, in the early years, is a sort of un-schooling or natural living, that arises out of a specific picture of the child, but that, my friends, is a topic for anther conversation.

Although to be honest, I don't quite understand the term un-schooling. I find it perplexing as I tend to think of it as an undoing of what school has done to a child. Yet a child who has not been "schooled" does not need to be un-schooled, right? That seems logical to me.

When I was young, it was called childhood and everybody seemed to share the picture of the child as one who romps in the woods and meadows and comes home when its time to eat. It seems to me that this type of learning at home is an extension of healthy childhood.

I do understand Waldorf homeschooling to be an approach to learning that embraces self directed exploration, meaningful adult activity, play and the natural world.  I can assure you that it does not involve any captivity, but that, too, is a topic for another conversation.

This article seems to have tapped into many strong feelings about this rapidly growing movement in handmade, outdoor, trust the child, trust the world, know your neighbors and lend a hand type of home education that is exploding among homeschoolers, that perhaps reflects a change in human consciousness, a shift in human consciousness that brings a new fashioned approach to old ways of doing things, this time around with conscious awareness of why we do what we do.

In any case, it was the article itself that, inspired me to check out the author's blog where he shares daily reflections on his days and life as a family, a farmer and a parent.
Our families have something in common. We live in Vermont and spend a good deal of time out of doors. We keep chickens and grow food, each year striving to grow more and more of our food. We know our neighbors and feel blessed to be surrounded by farmers who farm with care and conscious awareness for the food they produce. My children spend heaps of time out of doors, carry pocket knives, have their own axes, love to whittle and use their hands all day long.

My oldest spent two semesters immersed in the rhythms of daily living in the outdoors with Kroka Expeditions.  More to come on Kroka and this movement of handmade, outdoor, trust the child, trust the world, know your neighbors and lend a hand type of community education in another post. Gosh, I am setting myself up for quite a few blog posts.
One of my boys has eaten road kill and killed animals to eat, the other is vegetarian. One of my boys still likes to make his own bows and spent weeks and weeks exploring what type of branch is best suited for a bow. He loves to practice shooting  at non living things. Both of them know how to chop wood, kindle fires, grow and harvest vegetables, milk a cow or goat, cook meals from scratch, understand the the beauty and process of compost, love being in and on the water and have no qualms with weather.
We too have made sacrifices for this lifestyle. I stepped out of my work as a midwife to be with my children. I have chosen to live simply, garden, cook from scratch and work from home because it is meaningful for me to be at home mothering my children and tending the hearth. I suspect every mother who has made the choice to stay home with her children can understand this kind of devotion and sacrifice based on love.

The author brings a new voice to the conversation when he speaks as a father, who has made conscious family choices to stay home that involve sacrifice and daily hard work.

Yet what resonates most strongly within me from this article and today's blog post from Ben Hewitt, is trust. The ability or capacity to trust ourselves as parents. From that flows the ability to trust our children. From that trust comes development of capacities as human beings. It can happen in the wild, it can happen in the kitchen, it can happen in a barn. Wherever there is trust in the child, freedom to play and explore, adults engaged in meaningful work, children will grow and develop capacities as human beings. The capacity for imagination, for creativity, for problem solving, to love the world and all its living inhabitants, it arises out of trust and a sense that the world is good.

For it seems to me that the first step, after developing a sense of trust for our parents and the meeting of our needs as infants, is the impression that the world is good.

So I ask myself, how do we get to that place of trust, how can we get there if we were not trusted to take risks and explore and do things out of our own initiative as children?

How do we return to that place of trust if once we have known it?

How do we return to trust when our sense of the world as good gets shaken?

How can I support the parents I work with to step back and wait and trust?

Is it something we are born with, an innate trust in the world and in ourselves and children?

Does it result from a childhood that makes room for self initiated movement, play and exploration?

I don't pretend to have the answers, I am sharing my observations, experiences and contemplations here. My guess is that it is a combination of what we are born with, who we are born to and the experiences we have in life, particularly in the first decade of life.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this.


Celebrate the Rhythm of Life 
Harmonious Rhythms ::  Parenting with Soul :: Waldorf Homeschooling

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