so much has happened since august 22nd, it has been hard to find the time or the words for all the shifting that has occurred. staying in the moment often means not being able to define the experience or predict the trajectory of an action or decision. so until now, i have had no words.
viv attended her old school for two days, thursday and friday. that friday i received a call offering us a place at the charter school we had been hoping to get into since applying for kindergarten. i started laughing when i heard where the woman was calling from and what she was offering. we would need to show up on monday, meet the teacher and perhaps have a trial day and make our decision by the next morning – tuesday. hah!
i called jason and he too found the news hilarious. of course this would happen at this moment. should we have expected anything less? anyhow, the big question of course is how viv would receive the news. she had enjoyed seeing her friends again and seemed to really like her new teacher. however, without hesitation she said she definitely wanted to try the charter school even if it meant losing her spot at the old school. wow.
so we called in sick monday at the old school and attended a day at the charter school. the contrast was astonishing. whether this was perceived or actual i did not care. i knew that this would be a necessary experience for our family, i just hoped that viv would feel the same.
she came away from the first day excited to go back. so, the decision was made – she was now a student at the charter school.
all the change was a welcome breath of fresh air. the start time almost an hour later, we could ride our bikes together as a family, the ride home with both girls brought the city back into view as a dynamic and fun place to live – the whole experience was a step back toward our natural family rhythm.
since we had planned on not attending school this year, we had a week’s vacation scheduled with jason’s work. this week arrived just one week after starting at the new school. we worried that it might be too soon, but we all had been so excited about the camping trip we felt we could not postpone. so off we went.
without going into all the details of the camping trip, i will mention the most important and relevant ones to this blog. the trip itself was all that we hoped for. a success on all counts. unschooling at it’s best. a week in the eastern sierra!
topics covered while out of school:
fear has purpose
glaciers move rock
aspens and pines
point of view, space-relativity-how do you know the difference between up and down?
high desert vs. mountain, satellites – can you live on one? – space stations
stars vs. planets
climbing terms – off-width and crack climbing, etc.
indians choosing same places to hangout – evidenced by morteros carved in rock – what is human nature – what is territory
small market in bridgeport “closed” – sign of times – everyone shops at costco – small business vs. big business
military base – bob dylan singing about war – viv’s ?s about military base: training is like school? have they been to war? will they go? do they want to? what if they don’t want to go?
before streets there were trails. how were they made? how are streets made now?
horses and cattle – how they are used today – how they were used in the past – too many, too much – tearing up the land. contributing to problems in the water systems
and these are what i got down on paper! the list goes on in my mind.
anyhow, on our way home an interesting thing happened. again.
we had intentionally talked very little about school. we had done some of the homework packet given to us by the teacher – viv chose all the creative assignments of course. journaling and her ABC book – both assignments were to be written and illustrated by herself. left the worksheets until the night before they were due (a week after we returned from vacation!)
but the moment i am getting to was most surprising because it was completely authentic. we were driving home and had just an hour left of the drive. we had been drawing and listening to music and books on audible to pass the time. viv announces, “i don’t want to go to school anymore. i want to be an unschooler.” yes, of course, i was happy to hear this again. however, jason and i had finally come to a certain comfort level with the idea of her being in this particular school. we felt it might be the right fit. so, what followed was a very interesting switch. we started to feel like we needed to put our foot down and tell her she needed to give it a good try before making the decision. we said things like: “if there is a school we feel good about, it is this one. we should try it this year and then make our decision.” and she said, “but i don’t want to give it a try, i want to be an unschooler. i want to make our own school. a place where you don’t have to sit still and do what everyone else is doing. a place you can be with other kids and have fun learning.”
we had unleashed a rabble rouser!
funny to find ourselves so resistant. however, we realized that the social stuff is what most compels viv and we wanted her to realize how important it is to her. we were nervous about being able to replicate it ourselves. odd really, coming from the two of us.
anyhow, after two days at home, mulling it over. we decided she should give it a try again.
she went with her dad on monday morning and for the first time in her life, she cried and cried at the door of school and refused to go. jason was shocked. he hung around for an hour and viv’s tune did not change. they came home. when she returned she said she wanted to go tomorrow and she was excited to go and hang with her new friends. because her dad was not back at work yet, she wanted to be with us. in retrospect i realize that this was a result of taking a week away after a big transition. it was like starting all over again, but somehow scarier to her.
so, tuesday she went and all was good from then on. we have had two solid weeks of enjoying the school.
this weekend however, the conversation started again. “i cannot wait for the four day weekend next week”. “i want the friends i just don’t want the school”.
how can we achieve that? there is no perfect solution. i am of course willing to give it a go. today is tuesday and it is our second day out of school. she says she will go tomorrow to see her friends. we have told her she cannot go to school two days a week. if she is going to do school we need to do it well.
again, we shall see. i am feeling surprisingly patient. (now that is.)