Monday, September 01, 2008


Aren't you afraid that there will be gaps in your kids' knowledge?
...I went to school. I was taught history, science, English and math. There are lots and lots of things I do not know about those subjects. Does that mean there are gaps in my knowledge? Or does it just mean that no one can know everything there is to know? Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooled Life by Rue Kream

My kids get asked questions all the time, especially by others who know they homeschool. That's okay. That's life. Life for unschoolers who are out there and open about our different educational lifestyle.

Sometimes the kids know the answer to the question, to the educational quiz. Sometimes they don't. I usually just smile when their lack of an answer is pointed out to me.

Why? Simply because I am aware of the fact that my kids do KNOW a lot of stuff, that they do have gaps in areas of less interest but surpass the school curriculum knowledge in other areas. It is not a race or even a competition.

And what is more, my kids have the tools for learning. They can research, find out information when and if the need or interest arises, can study, can think for themselves ( tell me about it, when we have our next heated disagreement! ), can talk about ideas, can work hard and also know how to have fun, can pray.

They are not perfect. They are not academic gurus.

Neither am I.

We all have gaps in knowledge but at least the interest in learning, that spark, still exists for my kids. They have made connections.

I think education is important, but my view of education is that children need the classical tools of learning more than they need to amass a great store of information. Read The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers ~

Is not the great defect of our education today--a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned--that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils "subjects," we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.

Or Newman ~ Idea of a University ~ But education is a higher word [than instruction]; it implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connexion with religion and virtue. When, then, we speak of the communication of Knowledge as being Education, we thereby really imply that that Knowledge is a state or condition of mind..

Or, as Kumon says - It is how we learn~ It is our job as educators, not to stuff knowledge into children as if they were merely empty boxes, but to encourage each individual child to want to learn, to enjoy learning and to be capable of studying whatever he or she needs to or wishes to in the future. Mr Toru Kumon, Founder

In a homily on the weekend, Fr. discussed taking up one's cross and carrying it.

True. We do not know what cross may come our way but we take it, with prayer and perseverance and joy.

Joy? Yes, I have seen joy even in suffering. And this relates to unschooling, to gaps. Simply because we focus on relationships and building a happy home. There might be gaps in knowledge and gaps in virtue but the fact remains that we are working on these things. We are working on the tools of learning, on learning on how to live, cross or no cross. These things don't come without effort or thought or mistakes but with prayer and work. And play. And joy, seeking joy.

I don't make crosses for my children. I don't have to. We live, we pray, we attend Mass, we learn and life happens. Joy and crosses.

For our family, unschooling has little to do with education and much more to do with our relationships, the way adults view children, and the philosophies we chose to live by. The principles that guide us do not apply only to a list of academic subjects. They permeate every part of our lives and our interactions with each other...We live without subjects, in a world where life is not separated into neat little pieces but instead swirls and flows together in ways we could never design... Rue Kream, from the aformentioned book.
We have gaps. We have crosses. We have joy. We have those swirls and flows.

And today's swirls and flows include work at Kumon, packing for New Zealand, and I am asking the kids to do our bulletin board for September. I am too busy to help this month! It will be interesting, won't it, to see what the kids post on the bulletin board, what will be of import for them this month...


Mary G said...


I really like what Debra Bell says in The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling that we're NEVER going to be able to teach them everything ... and we shouldn't even try ... instead we should teach them to love learning and how to learn and they'll learn what they need/want to ....

Pretty cool, eh?

Blessings and hugs to you all ....

Mary G.

Leonie said...

Oh, thank you for that quote - its great..I have that book but haven't picked itnup for awhile...

Beate said...

We'd better leave some gaps - otherwise where will they put all the other stuff they want to learn after leaving home?

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Hey Leonie!

Great post - I've been following the conversation on UC, but haven't been able to contribute du to the pace of life -

I hope your trip to NZ is great - I'm excited for you!

Prayers from here!

molly said...

Great post, I think I will link to it.
Be safe in NZ! We cannot wait to see pics.