by Lune, Guest Author
It has taken me a good while to arrive at an idea of success that sits happily in my own mind. And this idea may seem very ‘insignificant’ to others, because it had nothing to do with grandiose goals or achievements; it is very ‘in the moment’ and very close to the earth. I believe my success is closely linked to my thankfulness for life and therefore it is pretty easy for me to feel successful every single day. I gave up on ‘career’ success a long time ago when I managed to lift the black cloud of depression from my life. All thoughts of material success in the outside world faded at that time. They were part of the reason I became depressed in the first place.
I had found someone who made me feel inspired with every single moment of my life, just as it is. And then I had children. I think part of the wish to homeschool lies in this (selfish) desire to continue living my life ‘in the moment’ with the people who manage to do it effortlessly - my two girls.
My small successes now come in the form of staying true to myself and my inner needs and fulfilling the needs of my family, which actually all roll into one big thing. I have never really thought of it in this way before but success for me is living harmoniously and joyously with myself, with those I share my life with, the immediate environment around me and the world at large. I get to this state through every day moment-to-moment ‘being’. It is as simple as that.
I believe that this is true for a child too. I believe they have no real concept of future goals or achievements. When you look at a child engrossed with the play of water on its hands or fascinated by the movement of autumn leaves caught up by the wind, you get to realise that the only thing that is ‘real’ for them is the present moment. And left to themselves, they will become fully immersed in it, learning all they can from the direct experience of what it has to offer.
When an adult comes along to impose some kind of goal onto the world of a child, requiring that something be produced in order that it may be measured, something falls out of balance. The present moment shifts into a future expectation. The flow is interrupted. Whereas before, a child may be passionately - for instance - writing about something that grips his imagination, totally caught up in the moment and totally at one with and expressing his true self. Now, he thinks about what to write, whether the topic is good enough for the adult, if the handwriting is legible, if it is too short or too long. He may become blocked on a word he cannot spell and so on. When this happens, the present moment will elude him and what may have been something totally satisfying to the passionate child becomes a ‘product’ that he will be measured against.
It becomes a means to an end. He is doing this for someone else, not for him and him alone.
It is in this way that we learn about other’s expectations of us early on. And this translates into what we perceive as success later in life. But how often does this success correspond with what we are truly passionate about?
It is such a shame that we feel compelled to measure success in ourselves and others, though it seems that our lives are becoming more and more embroiled in how we ‘measure up’ to these definitive expectations. And one person’s idea of success may of course, be another’s bitter failure. So why do we have the idea of succeeding at all? Because it is good for society as a whole, yet hard on the individual who must strive for something that doesn’t really exist.
And we feel compelled to impose all these ideas of success on our children in order that they may ‘get prepared’ for the real world beyond school.
We falsely learn to measure our successes on teacher/authority/society’s superficial standards. Set because they are an easy way in which one individual can be compared to another. But true and meaningful successes can only be judged by us and us alone, and we should be left to discover their subtleties in our own time, in our own unique way, without impedance from an outside party. They may be something as ‘insignificant’ as getting along with other members of the family, caring for the world around us or learning how to treat other children kindly, things that could never be judged as a ’success’ by authority, as they are so hard to measure. But it is these indefinable things that ultimately define each and every one of us.
I believe that homeschooling can help our children grow up with these indefinable qualities intact. By teaching kids at home we can step out of the restrictions of enforced qualifications and other imposed measures of success and run free with children who stay true to themselves. It gives them a chance to get caught up in their own joyous exploration of life, safe within a family unit that does not define their successes for them, but is there to provide them with any help they may need in defining their own sense of self-achievement.
Lune is an English mummy who started homeschooling at the beginning of July 2008. She lives in a small mountain chalet in the French Alps with her dear other half and their two girls Bubble (5) and Squeak (2). Follow her on her blog http://quatrepattes.wordpress.com