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« Other People's Homework | Main | The Good Stuff Off the Spoon »

May 07, 2008


Tracy W

Children have the right to an education that fits their unique individual needs, that is full of joy and exploration and free from coercion and stress.

Who has the duty to provide this education? And what about if that person doesn't have the ability to provide an education that full of joy and exploration and free from coercion and stress, and fits their unique individual needs? Making learning joyful all the time is a pretty tall order for even the best of teachers.


It's a tall order for homeschoolers as well. You cannot make a person feel joy. Joy is an expression of experience and somethings are more joyful than others. What we do is follow our interests and passions. That's what drives our learning *most* of the time. The result is joy... much of the time. Sometimes life requires tasks that are not as interesting and fun, and how we choose to meet those challenges can also bring us joy or at least a sense of satisfaction and hopefully empowerment in the end. My goal is to empower my children to make their lives meaningful to them. Frustration, anger, disappointment, boredom and so on are also expressions or examples of life. Joy is not the goal. Joy is one potential outcome based on personal decisions we make along the way as we live our lives. For many homeschoolers, living are learning are the same. We do not separate one from the other.

Teachers and parents by sharing their own enthusiasm for an interest, task can spark enthusiasm from others. But, when education has become about rote memorization of facts devoid of meaningful and interesting context, the result is rarely if ever joy, except joy (or possibly more likely relief) in moving on to the next boring rote task to avoid further immersion in the first boring task.


I believe the joy comes with the freedom to explore and follow passion and interests. I have never felt it a duty but a joy to provide learning opportunities, ideas, and possibilities for my children. That isn't to say that every day is joy-filled, but capturing the joy of learning is certainly a goal. The payoff has come for three of our four children who are all adults pursuing their interests and passions through further education, giving back to the community, acquiring pets and interacting with them, taking responsibility for their own lives, and making their own way in the world. Our youngest is still at home and though she has been chronically ill for the past two years (hardly a joyful experience) she brings us joy on the days she feels well enough to share her joy by singing, painting, sketching, or just enjoying what she is doing without pain. Some favorite family sayings we live by include "Be happy with what you have instead of seeking happiness in acquiring something else"; "bloom where you are planted" and "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade", just a few reminders that we can find joy even in difficult experiences, or if not, we can do the best we have with what we've been given. Sometimes it's not how we act, but how we react . . . and that's enough cliches for one night.

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