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Saturday January 27th 2018

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Homeschooling and the Art of Education

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Homeschooling and the Art of Education

By Linda Dobson

In honor of Michelle Barone’s Unschooling Summit, for which she and I spoke yesterday about the ideas behind my book, The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self, here’s a snippet to invoke consideration of the practice for happier parents, which means happier families, which means happier communities. I think it’s a goal worth pursuing, don’t you?

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Homeschooling and the Art of Education

the art of education

When education is art, the journey is the education.

The art of education is practiced like any other art – the product reflects the inner being of the artists. A Picasso is not a Van Gogh is not a Matisse, yet all possess their own beauty. Who is to judge which is more precious, more valuable, more worthy? The Smiths don’t approach homeschooling like the Johnsons, and the Johnsons’ homeschooling doesn’t look anything like the Dobsons’. The masterpieces turn out differently, yet each radiates its own beauty.

When education is art, the journey is the education. That means today – this very moment – is just as important as any other. Suddenly every step holds significance, not just the one that puts you “over the finish line.” (Indeed, thoughts of a “finish line” disappear.) It is as if, having driven the same route to the same destination for many years, you notice for the first time the flowers in the park, the scent of bakery bread in the air, squeals of delight from a ball game in the distance. When every moment has meaning, your senses awaken, your mind opens, you’re eager to proceed. Experiencing the journey allows the wanderer to reap a harvest of connection, of significance, of joy.

Education as art instead of business leads us gently to education’s true meaning (to lead out that which is within), it’s natural rhythm. But if we’re not busy putting facts and figures into our children, what is it that we intend “to lead out?”

Ironically, it’s those abilities that young children bring to life, delighting and amazing us with their natural, open expression. It’s the abilities we adults realize we’ve lost, though we can’t say exactly where or when. For the sake of brevity, I will list them: Curiosity, Imagination, Creativity, Inner Peace, Humor, Artistry, Self-Motivation, and Intuition. We are born with these abilities, witness the infant studying your face and smiling with recognition, or the toddler striving to perfect her walking technique, or the three year-old who shares a hug and a messy kiss at just the right time.

Can the Art of Education Make the World a Better Place?

Were we to focus one-tenth of the time spent pursuing academics on nurturing what already exists, the remaining nine-tenths of our “school” time could be spent pursuing that which interests us, honing our unique skills. We would all be artists! Whether our life’s work includes creating poetry, building ice cream cones, or investigating homicides, each accomplishment would emerge a masterpiece, a reflection of the best inside its creator.

Watch a stranger in the act of creation sometime. If she loves her work, it is evident in her eyes, her voice, her heart. She radiates from within, fueled by a constant repletion of energy.

If she does not love her work, the evidence comes from the same places. Instead of drawing energy from an abundant, internal source, the act drains energy – it is a chore, a burden, and she might as well be scrubbing toilets (no offense whatsoever to any who may enjoy this task of service – it, too, can be enjoyed). Her heart feels no difference.

When we nurture children, we “lead out” their natural abilities. We bring forth internal energy that only needs an escape hatch. When acts of learning draw the energy out (acts of learning being those motivated by curiosity, imagination, creativity, etc.), our lives improve in direct correlation. We feel healthier. We feel more content, foregoing the constant struggle for false success. We feel happier.

Many more of us could spend our lives “doing what we love,” shedding light on the joy and rewards of pursuing personally meaningful interests. Happier parents raise happier children. Happier families live in more content communities. More content communities make for a healthier planet.

The Art of EducationIt’s easy and inexpensive to find out much more about The Art of Education! The 15th Anniversary Edition is now available as an e-book for just $4.99. Get one for yourself, or it makes a loving gift for those you love and care about.
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