What is one specific thing you are changing as a result of reading this book?I think the main thing I am going to be changing is my attitude about "getting things done". James Taylor reiterated so many times that factual knowledge and dialectic reasoning were not the only ways to learn. I "knew" this already in that I could have repeated his case fairly well, but this time it sank in at a deeper level.
In fact, I think this is actually a case in point, illustrating what Taylor wants to say about education. I could teach my children to argue a certain point in a logical manner, or recite a bunch of things they learned about, say, Ancient Egypt or grammar, but that would not mean they really "knew" it. They could do this and still not have "lived" the knowledge or really brought it into themselves and been changed by it.
On the other hand, suppose my children "played" Ancient Greeks or tried to write a sonnet or argued passionately in an area they really cared about -- like trying to tell a friend about why they believed in God, or why siblings are more valuable than lots of new toys, or something like that. They would really be living the subject area -- history, or syntax, or logic/persuasion -- not just learning "about" it.
Once I see this, I see several things.
One is that I waste a lot of time -- when I think we are homeschooling, we are only just dipping our toes in learning. Another is that what my kids do really "learn" in the poetic, gymnastic sense doesn't really overlap very much what I do in our homeschool. This is rather humbling.
At the same time, it accounts for the mystery I've always sensed. Every since I started homeschooling, I knew I wasn't really doing a very good job at it. That is, if a professional teacher came into our house and watched a few days she wouldn't see all that much evidence of rich, organized effective education going on. Even an excellent, experienced homeschooling mom would probably have to raise her eyebrows at all the missed opportunities, false starts and messes around here.
Yet even so --- somehow my kids were learning. I can't even say how, and it's sort of scary because I can't define it or distill it so I can reproduce it at will. Somehow my kids have been growing up relatively intelligent, decent, idealistic and knowledgeable in various subjects.
I'm not bragging, because I don't think it's me, or even THEM. Nor do I feel like we are perfect, so I'm not saying "Do nothing, and all will be well." We are all trying hard, so I suppose that's one plus in our favor, but we're not super-gifted or organized type people. Again, I feel it's very mysterious. I can't point to a sort of sum: We did this plus this and THAT resulted or even to a subtraction: We DIDN'T do this and this so THAT didn't happen. There is some correlation -- if you met us, you could probably easily match my children with us, their parents -- but there is just... mystery, there, too. Ways that God provided that we couldn't ever predict or control.
Taylor seems to account for the mystery just a little. Poetic knowledge is receptive, participatory, responsive. Well, maybe that is one thing that's happened around here. We've left some time and space for receptiveness. We tried to let our life be partly about what He gave us. We surrendered our priorities when it was clear He wanted things differently -- at least, some of the time, to some extent, not perfectly.
Thus, this also seems to tie into my faith. Jesus made a lot of promises to the little children, to those who were burdened, those who were weak. He didn't tell us we had to have every loose end tied, every subject area mastered, everything under our control. His priorities are very different, much more "poetic" if you will.
So as to the specifics -- Silvia already wrote the one I was thinking -- that I was still going to have plans and goals, but pay much less attention to the specific time frames and pay much more attention to HOW we were addressing them -- the richness of the process. Also, when she talked about books and things, she made me realize: Books are about Things. OK, that sounds so obvious when I write it. But seriously. If books are about THINGS, then THINGS are of primary importance, and books are important as they relate to THINGS. Not just material things, of course. In Poetic Knowledge, the most important Things are the immaterial things, and sometimes they are hard to put into language because the language almost HAS to be analogical.
(This is one reason why literature is important -- because it puts immaterial things into narrative and a kind of vicarious experience).
Next year, as a result of thinking through all this, I'm trying to reach for a more unschooly way of doing things. I will still have goals and plans, but they will be more customized than they have been in the past couple of years. I realize that I was struggling with burn-out and that God gave me this Book Club just at the right time. It is one more clue that He provides what we need when it is needed, so perhaps I shouldn't try to stock-pile things too far ahead, but be more like the sparrows or the lilies of the field.
Well, this is quite rambling, because at the moment I'm writing in my oldest son's new apartment -- we just helped him move in with his brother yesterday. Another example of God providing things we couldn't necessarily have predicted or asked for in advance....