Now I could stand over her, tap my foot and demand that she complete her projects. I could cross my arms and huff and puff. But, truly, that's not the person I want to be.
I could do the work for her. But that's not the person I want her to be.
I could medicate her and shove a square peg into a round hole. Somehow this doesn't seem right.
Or I could try something different; unschooling. And I'm seriously considering it. You see I want my children to find, and maintain, a life-long love of learning. And I'm worried Middle's current circumstances may be doing just the opposite.
This is not to say the schools are failing. In fact my other two children are thriving. But they are natural pleasers who are ready and willing to conform to the classroom. Middle not so much.*
Last week my kids were out sick with the flu. I decided to try an unschooling experiment. We went to Starbucks.
Middle pointed out that the Starbucks logo was a mermaid with two tails. How many times have I stared at that sign and never, ever, noticed what it was? We googled it. Turns out the logo is a siren from Greek mythology. Interestingly sirens are not benign creatures. Sirens sing sweet songs to sailors until the sailors crash into the rocks and die. Hmmm.
Today, again, Little was out sick (there are some nasty bugs going around). Once more we went to Starbucks (clearly lured by the sirens). We began discussing the origin of "venti", which is Italian for twenty, thus a 20 ounce drink. And we discussed Italy in general and how Italians love their coffees (especially espressos and cappuccinos).
"So," Little says, "Starbucks is an Italian place with a Greek symbol." Little is nine. She remembered last week's conversation. And, like her sister, she clearly has a brain.
Little ordered a frappuccino (her tummy hurt -- how could I deny her?). Then she asked the origin of the word frappuccino. Good question. I did not know the answer but thought that frappe had something to do with being whipped. Once again we googled it.
Turns out frappuccino is a portmanteau: a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending or two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog). Thus frappuccino is a combination of frappe and cappuccino.
Frappe means chilled or partly frozen. It is derived from the French "fraper" which means to strike.
Therefore Starbucks is an American company started with Greek, Italian and French influences.
While getting our coffee we also did a bit of math to figure out a tip. My nine-year-old was able to tell me that 50 cents was fifty percent of a dollar and 10 cents was ten percent. Nice job sister. Nice job.
So from a trip to Starbucks one can learn about Greek mythology, French word origins, the Italian language and percentages. Not bad for a quick jaunt for coffee.
Unschooling may be the road less traveled but, based on my observations, a road worth taking.
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* The questions arises -- what of the real world? What happens when Middle must go out and get a job? Does she need to conform then? By pulling her out of school are we simply compounding an issue (her inability to complete tasks not pleasing to her)?
I do not have the answers. By the time she has a job she will be older and therefore, hopefully, more mature. And who is to say she'll work for somebody else? Perhaps she'll be her own boss and therefore mold the workplace to suit her needs.
*And will she learn all that she needs to learn to be successful in life? Yes, I think she will. In fact she might learn more than while in school. She taught herself to read at four. She taught herself to use a computer and video production. She has a crazy memory and retains what she learns.
*What about college? See here. If she wants to learn, if she loves learning, she can definitely go to college.
* Might I go crazy having her home all the time? Yes. Yes indeed.
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Oh and PS -- I am pleased to report that after six long weeks my sore throat finally went away. And on to nurturing ...