Thursday, March 27, 2008

Melissa Wiley's Sheer Brilliance!

The following post, in bold, is a post in the comments section of Melissa Wiley's amazingly wonderful blog. I am reprinting one of her comments to her own post because I know some friends and relatives of mine would probably never make it over to Melissa's blog.  What Lissa has written below has so perfectly captured the mindset of many a homeschooling mom. I think it's important for those close to me to know that this very same "GOT it" moment, which Melissa writes about, is something I have finally found my way through as well, but she put it into words...perfectly!     (Note: the term CM is referring to a homeschooling method called Charlotte Mason.  However, one could substitute any other method/philosophy here, for example, Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, Traditional Pre-Packaged Curriculum etc...)

Oh, and after this on/off again marathon day of posting, I am taking a break. I'll check back in a few days. 

~ Rachel

Melissa Wiley wrote:

But I’ve been (for months, really–you can see it in Lilting House posts from last spring and summer) pondering deeply WHY I have, always, in the past, inevitably drifted back into a CM mindset at certain times of the year. Why such a strong pull in two opposite directions, with CM on one side and unschooling on the other?

And I suddenly GOT it. But let me just say here that I’m speaking for myself only, about my experience, and not making a sweeping statement to apply to everyone, everywhere.

What I have grasped is that the Charlotte Mason ideal appeals to the schoolgirl *I was*. It’s the kind of school experience I wish I had had, the kind I yearned to have without knowing how to articulate it, back when I was having an entirely different kind of school experience.

In high school, I wrote a big long story all about Plumfield, Mrs. Jo’s school from Little Men. I went through some kind of time warp and wound up at Plumfield and went to school there. And as an adult reading CM’s work, I found Plumfield again. In those descriptions of happy, busy mornings spent with great books and nature study and poetry and art and music and all the things I love best, and long afternoons free for personal interests, I found a vision of school as I would have loved it, myself. IThe schoolgirl inside me leaps at the prospect of that kind of school life.

But the mother in me, the grownup Lissa watching her own kids learn and grow and live, sees something beyond the ideal *school* experience. Unschooling is outside school, bigger than school. It doesn’t need to be the ideal best-possible version of school. It is something broader, richer, more rife with possibilities. And so I think, if I am reading my heart correctly, that my movement between two ideologies (and it has been almost completely a very happy process, this seasonal shifting–everything I have blogged is absolutely true; my children and I have had great fun with our tidal learning lifestyle, though of course we have foundered sometimes and I’ve swallowed a fair amount of water in my day)–I was saying, my attraction to both CM and unschooling has to do with the two parts of me: the schoolgirl I was, and the mother I am.

The mother is the stronger part of me, and she reads her children well, and places a high priority on their joyfulness. And I think–though it feels like going out on a limb to say it, and I certainly mean no disrespect or implied criticism of those friends for whom the CM philosophy is more than a means of offering balm to the soul of an inner schoolgirl–I think that having identified the source of the attraction to that ideology, I am now able to let it go. My inner schoolgirl is satisfied. Here, in this house, we’re doing something that is other than school.


Rebecca said...

This has nothing at all to do with your post and, for that, I am sorry. but I just HAD to tell you that I used to have a cat named Toonces the driving cat. She looked just like yours only no white on the chest. I miss her so.

I have a bit of deja vu and am wondering if we already had the Toonces conversation before. Forgive me if we did. Also, at the same time that I had Toonces, I had an orange tabby just like your Milo but his name was George. He was a psycho cat as well. Sigh. I do miss them both.

Melissa Wiley said...

Rachel, you are too kind! :) I think I like your take on my revelation ("sheer brilliance") better than mine ("slow on the uptake"). :) :) :)

Love the new blog name. You and I are kindred spirits, methinks.