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ben hewitt

read the interview in it’s entirety here: the gift of children

my favorite moments here:

“What do I think about the future for our kids? I think unless we begin to accept that our children’s reality can be very different than how we currently perceive it to be, it’s not particularly bright. On the other hand, it’s not really all that hard to shift that perception. But first we have to understand that such a thing is possible.”

“I choose to live closely with my children in part because I actually enjoy their company, but also in part because I believe that family is the foundation of healthy community, and from healthy community comes healthy nation/state. We don’t so much “school” our children as make room for them to learn alongside us and other members of their community. I’d say that’s the most concise way to explain our style of education, relative to a more conventional schooled experience: We try to make room for learning to happen, rather than trying to make learning happen, via a compulsory, standardized curriculum. Most of our son’s learning occurs in the context of their interests, typically via hands-on experience. My wife, Penny, and I are constantly facilitating these experiences, either directly, or via mentors or other adults in our community. Frankly, this takes an enormous amount of effort. And patience. That’s probably the things that’s most changed for me: I’ve become far, far more patient than I was prior to having children, and I suspect far more patient than I would have been if we sent them to school.”

“I think the gift of the child is whatever we allow it to be. We just need to learn how to recognize, accept, and accommodate their gifts”

photo(7)jason and i are always contemplating our choices. always searching for ideas that inspire and challenge us. we read. read. watch. listen. do. and read some more. we share with each other information that affects us. this is our habit. this is our lifeblood – or at least a good portion of it. we share much of this with our children. a natural result of this pastime is constantly being confronted by things that confirm and/or challenge the choices we have made and continue to make. at times, this seems pointless. we do it so much, it can seem like a bad habit – i find myself saying “why are we talking about this again?!” “i need to stop reading and start doing.” – the space between ideas and reality become a source of frustration. however, i know this is not true. even good habits have inherent difficulty. when i read something i am inspired by, it gives new energy to my daily activities (which far outweigh my time spent reading) – many of which require mindfulness. admittedly, i often find myself turned off to the importance of being present in what i do. at times as a mother, i can feel numb, deaf and blind to the needs of my children. but i know it is not motherhood necessarily that brings on this over stimulated response. being present in anything you do daily takes energy. naturally, some days are better than others. however, there are spans of time that can get sacrificed by our lack of awareness, lack of intention, lack of reflection. once you find yourself at the end of such a time, “what was i doing? thinking?” starts to run through the mind. i do believe that even these spans of time serve a purpose – at least for me – i find myself searching – “why?” or “does anything need to change?” or “what needs addressing?”

after discovering ben hewitt’s writing on keeping his kids out of school, i found myself in one of these moments. looking back over my days and weeks and months i wondered what kind of story i might tell about our days. there is a lot of change on our horizon with jason talking about taking a year or two from work – a time to reflect and recuperate and be together in a completely different environment. while very exciting, this causes me some anxiety – but this is a whole different story. what i am really getting at is what we have been doing up until this point – our oldest is now 8 years old. when i started this blog 2 1/2 years ago, i had an intention that has not necessarily taken the shape i had imagined – some sort of family portrait of words and images that conveyed the complexities and beauty of keeping our kids home. while there is a fraction of what i anticipated, i think now that this was an overly ambitious expectation – my kids are still quite young and we are still taking one day at a time. the original desire requires reflection which is something that requires the passage of time. there are many stories to tell and they are embedded in each of our hearts and minds. this is what is most important. yet, after reading a few of the slices out of the hewitt family’s diary i realized how important it is for people like us to share our stories. camaraderie is very powerful when you are doing something so different from the majority – it helps to know there are others – it helps to see examples that are different than your own. makes you think. he mentioned something about how keeping your kids out of school is a unique experience – unique to the members of your family. it is not something anyone can tell you how to do. one must trust his or her self and the members of their family, extended family and community. there is not a prescription as to what it looks like or sounds like. it is a way of life that unfolds by the living of your days engaged with one another. throwing ideas and desires into the pot. letting them simmer and sputter and age. many births and deaths occur as a result of such engagement. it is not always easy, but it is very rewarding when you reflect on it. and most enjoyable when you are fully present.

in preparation for a friend’s seamus heaney memorial hike on sunday, i found myself thumbing through his poetry looking for something that resonated. i read many poems. and then one about making a kite. just what i was looking for. in many ways the poem is an unschooling poem. to me anyway – it sounds and feels like my life. the moment was like what i talked about earlier – the energy that gets your heart and mind going – connections are made across the landscape of your mind. exhilaration. for me this is what unschooling is all about, this excitement. when the connections are made as you wander and follow your interests and interact with the world around you. i cannot wait for jason to get back with the girls so i can read the poem to them. where are they at? riding thier bikes around the neighborhood – library, fabric store, and the much loved thrift town. lucky for us, jason took the day off work – and i got a much needed day of laying around, reading and reflecting.