Boat school evolving

Folded “books” made by V.

Over the last four years, I’ve enjoyed researching different educational philosophies (Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, and Reggio Emilio and unschooling , to name a few).

I wanted to find the one perfect pedagogy that our family could embrace whole heartedly.

But it never materialized.

I realized I was driving myself a bit nutty. Perhaps the endless researching was just a way of masking my lack of trust in myself and my children.

Slowly, very slowly, I came to believe that there is nothing out there that could be a perfectly tailored for our personalities, our values, our cultural background, our relationship with each other and the world–in short, our life! We’d have to built it ourselves. We have to trust in that process of building it ourselves.

The educational philosophies, the techniques, they are simply resources that we can draw upon. They are not, and never will be, the Holy Grail.

So I began with the tiniest seed of confidence.

Luckily, we’re still early in the game. Life is learning, and it’s especially true at this age.

Lately, I’ve been loving Lori Pickert’s blog and book, Project Based Homeschooling. There’s so much about her philosophy and ideas that feels authentic to our family’s life. There are no steps to follow, just an open mind and observation. Then, finding ways to add focus, intention and rigor to children’s self directed learning.

After digging through her treasure trove of essays, and signing up for her forum, I think PBH can be a great complement to boat schooling…once we work out a few issues around space and setting up the environment to support their learning.

Here are a few fun things we’ve been doing in the spirit of PBH, and some of my favorite quotes from the PBH blog.

Making our vision boards for 2013

“The project-based homeschooling curriculum doesn’t come in a box or a binder. It doesn’t look like a knitted sweater you can take out of the box and pull over your head. It looks like a pair of knitting needles with conspicuously missing yarn. You pick up those needles and wonder if you’ll really be warm in December.”

V asked me to draw a pan-tropical spotted dolphin and a bottlenose dolphin, which she colored, hole-punched and strung up herself with yarn.

“To get to the authentic learning — the involved, intense focus, the flow — you have to be able to put up with the half-formed, messy look of workers who are creating from the ground up. You can’t pre-decorate — you have to let the children paint the walls with their ideas.”

Inspecting her collection of beach finds.

“Likewise, with a child pursuing his own interest at home, it may not look like much to someone coming in from outside. They may see a child playing a video game, a box of dirty rocks, a pile of empty containers taped together. They may not get it. For you to get it, you have to pay attention.”

Play dough sculpture “Person Sleeping”

“Instead of crafts, children need to become fluent at expressing their ideas through authentic art…Compare this to the typical crafts that are offered to children — “cute” activities that keep kids occupied and produce an expected outcome…We need to spend less time preparing children’s activities and more time building up their abilities.” (emphasis mine)

A bracelet she designed from found objects and beads, and some play dough Jolly Rogers.

Of course… I still love me some John Holt books.

I still heart open-ended natural toys, beeswax crayons, and lazured Waldorfy goodness.

I still believe in rhythm and warmth, lots of time in nature instead of classrooms, in striving and inner work for the parent.

I still take a free-range learning approach, believing that children are insatiable learners who need no “academic instruction” unless they ask for it.

That’s where I’m at right now. My thoughts are constantly evolving along with my family. But the best part is that, for now, I get to make the cake however my family wants it.


4 Replies to “Boat school evolving

    1. Thanks Michael. Would love to read more about your cobbled together homeschooling on your blog, too. Hope winter isn’t too cold where you are. I heard our hometown had two feet of snow!

  1. Oh my Serena, I so know what you mean. I talk about using the Homeschool Salad Bar, where you pick and choose from everything and see what works for your kids. And as you know, each kid is different and each stage of life too. What was working for Zach at ages 4-5-6 are totally different than his needs now 7-8-9. And so on. The key is you are tuned in and aware and your kids are very lucky for that!

    1. I love your salad bar approach, Cindy! (this is Serena talking) Seeing V’s evolving interests and passions has been so fun. It’s going to be a wild ride keeping up with her. I imagine it will be the same for Naia!

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