I had told Patience that I would think about what getting out of the way looks like, and our history summaries are one example. They are not what I want at all! I know, I know, they are often funny, silly, clever, but they are so far from what we originally were going for that it often makes me crazy.
But with some limits I let it go. For one thing, for all I know Violet is gearing up for a career as a comedy writer, or maybe she’ll be the next Lorne Michaels (the kid has producer written all over her).
I have some specific goals for our history lessons, but they are also narrow and small: see that people live differently (and happily) in different times, places, and ways; observe patterns (e.g., the weak structure of multiple tribes or city-states being defeated by someone who decides to unite them all); retain information recieved aurally. We touch on these lightly and then off she takes it from there, sometimes with great enthusiasm, sometimes having obviously daydreamed through the whole reading. In the long run I figure her experiments with humor, rhythm, and writing style are going to be much more useful to her as a background than the facts themselves (that is, the facts she retains on this pass, I do expect that she will study this history again as an older child and develop at least a basic informed-citizen’s comptency in Western history).
I guess a simpler way to put it is that for now I put very little emphasis on product, and nearly all of it on process.
I’m fortunate that I have no idea at all what Violet will do as an older person. [ETA: Unlike some of my blog friends, she has not shown a strong passion for one particular area, she’s not a prodigy in any discipline.] She has many talents and many interests. She has an unusual personality that I sometimes find hard to read; she often seems to stiffen herself against any “softer” feelings, and likes to disrupt anything too serious with a joke. She does not have a self-image as a studious or serious person. So I cannot possibly prepare her for much of anything specific, academically. The best I can do is build up her self-teaching skills for later.
I also think we are still de-schooling. When I consider her strong rejection of being anything “scholarly” I can’t help but think that she got some of that from her school experiences. I hope that as we go on her self-consciousness will lessen and she will feel freer to be all kinds of things at once: serious, crazy, studious, excited, etc.