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« Navigating the Labyrinth | Main | How My Children Learned to Read and Write »

February 17, 2008



I read something recently that suggested that we have become addicted to adrenalin. That all that rushing gets our adrenalin going and when we don't have it, we feel withdrawal. Seems to me that you add that to the many years of training to be on time no matter what and accept someone else's definition of what's important and you have a pretty powerful force.


I read this entranced by the thought of children turning to look at the music and being turned away by their parents. It's fascinating that we as parents are often the obstacles to our children's learning and yet I hear parents ask me "how can I make them sit down and do their schoolwork?"
Though, I do have one other "thought-provoker" for you...does it matter that he is a world-class violinist playing classical music of some kind that someone arbitrarily decided was "the best"? I'm willing to bet that children would turn to almost any music and find it wonderful, with or without famous composers :)


Very interesting. When it comes to time management, so many of the experts out there tell you to schedule your day. Three hours for this, fifteen minutes for that. I, for one, have never been able to operate that way. If I'm on a roll, I'm going to keep working. If I've run out of steam, I'm going to switch gears. I am so much more productive that way, and now that you mention it, the fifty minute class with ten minutes to switch gears and get to the next class is what I hated most about school. Learning for the pleasure of learning was an occasional gift rather than something you expected to happen every day. You really had to work hard to find that groove. But once you did, you got so much further ahead. At least I think so.


I guess I'm conflicted about this article. As unschoolers, I totally agree about freeing ourselves from the stifling constraints of bells and timelines and rigid schedules. However, there are things we choose to do (like museum art classes, guitar lessons) because we oh-so-want to. Happening upon a delightful, unexpected concert on our way to one of those chosen activities would create a similar amount of conflict in us. So we might not look any different from the iPod-wearing, blackberry-clutching exec if we paused, wanting to listen, groaned in conflict, and moved on to our activity, would we? Granted, we could call the guitar teacher and beg off for that one time - there are options for us. I'm just saying.

I might ask the violinist if he were going to be there later on our way back, when we'd have the time to enjoy without having to give up something else we enjoy. I admit I would be really disappointed that I had to make a choice between two desired activities.

Thanks for my morning food-for-thought!


I guess this article hits home for me because of my son. He regressed at 14mo & when he started coming back to life again, this was a constant- the blue bird in the tree, or the bug on the sidewalk. & no he couldn't be rushed, we had therapy appointments to keep for him 3-4x a week, but he didn't care & because of him, i learned that life still goes on without being EVERYWHERE on time. now he's also 3yo like the boy in the story & i can very much see us walking by any person playing any music & my son craning to watch, but because of what he's taught me, we'd have stopped so he could have that enjoyment- & thus i'd enjoy watching him enjoy it. i think he still sees things as more interesting than even many kids his age, but it's made me open my eyes again to how fluid & beautiful the world & life is. taking some time out to watch a person play music, or whatever, would likely take importance over anything else we may have planned (as most things would probably still be there tmrw).
thank you for sharing this.


Incredible. What a thought-provoking post to read this morning. I've spent the past year on a journey of artistic exploration, trying to find the beauty and adventure in the everyday, and I can see so much in what they did and what you've written.

I homeschool because we can live at "human speed". Not at industrial speed or average speed or experts-say speed. You've really reinforced the importance of that for me.


Some other factors that would influence my behavior in that situation:
Expectations - From previous experience with street musicians, I would not expect such beauty in that setting, and maybe my mind would filter them out to some extent even if their music is enjoyable.
Location - At a subway station at the start of the workday, you're much more likely to find hurried people than, say, mid-day in a pedestrian zone. And of course, US vs. Europe...
Crowd psychology - If a few people had been standing there already, more would be more likely to gather. Like seed money in the violin case. When a classmate of mine on a high school trip played his clarinet in the streets of Munich, we made sure a few of us were always around to direct more interest to this musician. ;-) And we had fun listening too.
Fear - Often street musicians induce guilt in better-off passers-by, appear aggressive in the way they demand money, or even have accomplices pickpocketing while you pay attention to them. So if I don't make eye contact but "mind my business", I can avoid that.
Punctuality as a virtue - Personally, if I have time commitments, to others or myself (!), I want to honor them. I don't even want to blame only schools or parents or society or my German background for it, though sure a combo is at play. I just feel I generally get satisfaction from being on time, doing what I planned, and I stress from running late. Which is not to say I don't enjoy making exceptions to this rule, gleefully even, occasionally - but that would be about as low a % as the # of people looking vs. ignoring...
Sense of time - Kids simply don't have an adult's perception of time yet, for better or worse, and much fewer commitments, to others and themselves. Thanks for showing us in this post that letting them (and us) smell the roses is just as important a virtue to learn/keep!


I admit that this is somewhat sad to see, but is it really a surprise? This happened at a busy Metro station where people are trying to get to work. Even though I love classical music, I couldn't allow myself to pause for more than a few moments if my job/career would be jeopardized for it. Besides, this deals mainly with people going to work, not school. But as far as school goes, having timed classes is pretty much necessary. Maybe you're only writing against pre-college schooling, but in college the students actually do learn this way. You have time for yourself to read the material at relatively your own pace, class is mainly for discussion, asking questions, writing down additional information, and taking the occasional test. I admit, it's hard to enjoy literature assigned for class as much as I want to, but school is more beneficial than detrimental.


What do you think would happen if Brittany Spears busted into a dance and song there at the metro station...how many would continue on with their day.....or how many would be camera phone snapping and trying to let the networks know? Late to work or not.

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