My husband (Jason) and my brother in law (Marc) both self-identify as "stupid". It's a long story. Anyway... in school, they were bad boys, dropouts, and allllll the other labels that tell kids that they're useless. I've written about how patently ridiculous this, and what I think of that set of labels in a previous post, "The Crooked Lawn". When we talk about our school experiences, both of them say things like "I hate history" and "math sucks" and that kind of thing. It's saddening to me that the wounds inflicted by the system still sting so much so many years down the road.
So we live in California, and this is "the year" that Rowan would officially start school. I'm ready to go with the official paperwork, a little nervous just because the unknown (in terms of paperwork, documentation, etc.), is nervous-making for me, but having hung out here and in a few other places and talked to successful unschoolers, I'm feeling confident that this is the right choice for us.
Jason's not so sure. He hasn't done as much work as I have on figuring this out, so he's still a bit wobbly about the particulars. He trusts me, he trusts his boys, and he's willing to work through his internal wobbles, but they're still there. His chiefest worry is that someone, anyone, will cut loose with the dreaded "s" word at his children. He and his brother have endured that their whole lives, and he would prefer they avoid that. It's a fair concern.
Night before last, the boys crashed out early, so Jason and I got to stay up and watch "300". Jason's a Frank Miller fan, and I dig history, so we thought it would be fun (even though I acknowledge freely that the film was based off the graphic novel which was based off a film which was based off of writings which may or may not have been accurate descriptions of the actual battle...). We watched. I dug it; lots of good, inspiring, battlefield inspirational speeches, some great blue- and greenscreen magic, all that good stuff. I made some offhand comments about Spartans not doing flying wedges, and certainly not with round shields, Jason told me about something he'd read about the director using that formation because "it looked cool", and we talked about dramatic license.
Last night, Marc asked me what I'd thought of it. So we started talking about ancient battles. Marc asked where Thermopylae was. Jason popped onto Wikipedia, looked it up, we started discussing it. Jason asked me a question about shields, so we talked about that for a while. Jason found a site about the real Xerxes, and about the Iranian government's response to the film. We talked about ancient civilizations and their modern derivatives and how very different they can be.
Marc pointed out (having read the Wikipedia entry) that significant bits of the Persian navy were wiped out by storms, and that Leonides' stand helped give the Athenian navy time to prepare to deal with the remaining Persian navy, so wouldn't it be fun to go sail there, and check it out (especially since that is not a tourist destination from sea). From there, we discussed battlefield tourism in Europe and the Mediterranean, and while that was happening, Marc found a Netflix instant-watch documentary about ancient civilizations, specifically Egyptian early construction, and we watched some of that, while they kept bouncing between the film and the laptop, connecting the dots between timelines they were aware of, and timelines they weren't (one person in the documentary commented that the tomb he was in was already 1000 years old before Moses left Egypt, and that intrigued Marc, so Jason bounced up some more stuff on the laptop...)
And I poked Jason in the ribs, and said "you're the boy who says history sucks, right?" He kinda smiled. I said "this is unschooling. Look at all the ground you guys just covered, because it was neat and cool and you're curious. Look where your curiosity just took us." His eyes got wide, and I swear I heard the light bulb click.
Looks like it's time for some dolmas. =)
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason and her sons Rowan and Kestrel. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The ElementalMom.