Monday, May 18, 2009

Truth in Education

I should get a raise

Tonight our 7-year-old watched the news with us, snuggled in between Kip and me as he took in a report about the President requiring automakers to drastically reduce vehicle emissions.

He wanted more explanation and so we paused the television, thanks to Kip’s homemade TiVo system, and answered a volley of questions on pollution, vehicle emissions, economics of fuel consumption, etc.

Up to this point, watching the news together had been a welcome reprieve from a day of rushing around, running errands and, for Kip, dealing with unpleasant office politics.

It came at a lull in the day, somewhere in between me rushing home to make dinner and Kip arriving from a long day at the office. We were both cashed out on the couch, sharing a beer and watching the NBC nightly news like it was the 1955.

Our son’s questions pushed the conversation into a polite version of Which Way LA with male and female parents carefully crafting their ever so slightly opposing political perspective on the same issue, when suddenly he said.

“Wait ... he can’t do that.”

I held my breath.

“The president can’t do that.”

“Can’t do what?”

I was waiting for the pending political statement on government control or sacredness of free market economy.

“The president can’t make laws. Only the congress can.”

I basked in the glory of information understood just long enough to inoculate myself from the inevitable disappointment of tomorrow's homeschooling "failure," and then I explained executive orders.

He took that information in and then ran into the kitchen and found the roll of generic Saran wrap.

“I know how they can do it! Just put this around that thing that comes out of the back of the car and then it won’t make pollution.”



That’s great.

He beamed.

My husband, who was at this point, helping me finish a little risotto to go along with our salmon, exchanged a smile with me. We enjoyed the fact that our son was still young enough to believe every compliment we gave.

Do you think I’ll be famous?


I should be fired.

I lied to my 7-year-old son today.

We aren’t unschoolers. We use a curriculum for math and loosely follow a literature-based history program. But the truth is at best we only get about 10 hours of that kind of “school time,” a week. That is less than half the time public schooled kids spend in the classroom. I could argue that a lot of traditional “school time” is wasted, but the truth is, I know even with the wasted time not withstanding, they spend more time in “textbook” instruction and homework than we do – a lot more.

For the most part I am comfortable with falling short on “school time,” because I know we have fostered a rich learning lifestyle that encourages curiosity and allows any time to become an educational moment. We simply take learning one question at a time.

Our educational philosophy depends on questions and an honest search for answers.

And that is why I felt bad about telling my son with absolute certainty that there would not be a major earthquake until he was 13.

I think I said it tongue-in-cheek at first because I know that he knows that earthquakes are unpredictable. We had been talking about it all day since the jolting earthquake last night and I know he understands not only what causes earthquakes, but also the fact that at this point in history no one knows when they will strike.

In fact, I’m sure that when his sister asked me when the next one would be, he was standing right next to her when I said, “If I could tell you that I’d be a millionaire.”

I’m sure he was standing right next to her, because he has been unwilling to be alone in any room since the quake.

So when I told him he would be 13 when the next major earthquake shook LA, I was surprised to see the look of relief in his face. And then he started to justify it with the information he had on earthquakes. Within an hour he was telling me with relief, “There won’t be a really big earthquake until I am 13.”

I hope he is right. And I hope if I am wrong it won’t wreck his world that I told him something comforting to help him sleep tonight.

We do the same for ourselves, don’t we?

1 comment:

  1. i love you theresa. thanks for writing this all down. you deserve a raise.