Sunday, June 3, 2012

on homeschool tantrums

An example of why talking to other people is so important.  I dropped by a friend's house on Shabbos.  While I was there, I took the opportunity to ask her husband his thoughts on a question Chana had on Rashi.  In the course of conversation, he asked if Chana enjoys learning.  I paused.  She enjoys the thinking, she enjoys the questions, she enjoys parts of it.  But overall?  I don't think she enjoys it.  I think she finds it something to get through, something she dislikes.  Something she tolerates.  That gave him pause.  He told me about his son, who is in school, who really enjoys gaining the skills.  His son doesn't find it painful to acquire the chumash skills.  He is enjoying it.  Is it his son's nature?  No, he thought that the Rebbes make it fun for the kids.  He suggested two possible and related reasons.  1.  These Rebbes focus all of their educational energy on imparting skills.  It is their craft.  They hone this ability and their main goal is to make learning skills pleasant and achievable.  Whereas I am trying to do a whole bunch of things, one of which is teaching skills, and that is only a small subsection of my concept of "learning."  2. These Rebbes are EXCITED about teaching skills.  They love it.  They look forward to it.  They enjoy it.  They think it is wonderful.  They live for it.  Whereas I... I dread it.  I view it as a necessary evil.  Something to get through in order to get to the real "meat and potatoes" of learning.  Obviously, this attitude gets transferred to Chana.

This gave me plenty to think about (in addition to the last few weeks, as I have been ruminating about the boys' future chinuch).  I often find that having a conversation with someone can really open my mind to a whole new angle.

But homeschoolers, let's admit.  Our kids tantrum more than kids at school tantrum.  I rarely hear about an elementary aged child who tantrums about work in school.  The combination of social embarrassment, peer pressure, and being used to doing things they dislike make it an unusual occurrence.  Whereas homeschoolers are quite vocal about work they don't want to do.  If it's painful and they don't see the benefit, they will complain.  Loudly.  Often.  Since you are the mom, and a safe person, it can and does degenerate into tantrums (youtube: don music sesame street).  There are no peers around to cause embarrassment.  As a student, your opinion about the work you are doing is taken into consideration.

Supposedly unschooling eliminates most of that.  Though it still petrifies me to throw myself into that route.  However, I have a lot to think about regarding making skills work exciting and fun.  And thoughts are crystallizing..

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