Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Other Mr. Rogers

When I was in college and graduate school, I was drawn to Carl Rogers' writings. His philosophy of client-centered therapy deeply resonated with me those many years ago and guided me toward my approach to helping relationships as a professional social worker. He was considered controversial in his time, even radical, because he shunned the scientific models of psychology which stressed the quantitative shaping of behavior through more external means rather than using the therapeutic relationship as a foundation for client-motivated change.

I had forgotten about him. Or I thought so. Until I came upon one of his books in the library the other day. On Becoming A Person was published in 1961, near the end of Carl Rogers' career as a psychologist. The book is a compilation of writings and talks that reveal his journey toward the person he had become.

I am awed by his grace and genuineness and have found renewed favor for his words. But what I found most remarkable were his perspectives on teaching and education. Chapter 13 is entitled "Personal Thoughts on Teaching and Learning." It is derived from a presentation he gave at Harvard in 1958 where he was requested to expand his ideas to the concept of "student-centered teaching." I will not go into too much detail, but wanted to share some of his thoughts here:

"It seems to me that anything that can be taught to another is relatively inconsequential, and has little or no significant influence on behavior."

"I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning."

"When I try to teach, as I do sometimes, I am appalled by the results, which seem a little more than inconsequential, because sometimes the teaching appears to succeed. When this happens I find that the results are damaging. It seems to cause the individual to distrust his own experience, and to stifle significant learning. Hence I have come to feel that the outcomes of teaching are either unimportant or hurtful.....This is frankly troubling."

"...I realize that I am only interested in being a learner, preferably learning things that matter, that have some significant influence on my own behavior."

He goes on to say expound on the implications of these thoughts:

"Such experience would imply that we would do away with teaching. People would get together if they wished to learn..We would do away with examinations. They measure only the inconsequential type of learning."

"We would do away with degrees...a degree marks an end or a conclusion of something, and a learner is only interested in the continuous process of learning."

And I am only scratching the surface.

This fascinates me. That I had not made the connection before about the type of professional I was. About the type of person I already was before I came to unschooling. The seeds of this thinking were planted long ago by Carl Rogers and by my own experience in school, in relationships, and as a professional. It comforts me to find how deeply the tenets of unschooling are rooted in my person, and that I was almost unwittingly drawn to this more radical, yet, to me, so sensible way of raising children.

If you have read this far and you are not yawning....thank you. Perhaps this is a bit too narrowly personal for blogging, but there you have it.

If you are interested in reading more excerpts from this book they are here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still Six

He will go swimming no matter the temperature, then roll in the warm sand of the dunes. He plays on a soccer team, and loves to work on the pottery wheel at art class. He is a whiz at navigating through the computer world, and he loves to have control of the TV clicker. He still enjoys watching Curious George.

If he's mad at you, he lets you know. He hits and yells, then dissolves in a puddle of tears. He hugs hard. He collects rocks, sticks, pinecones, acorns, and often offers special ones as gifts to me. He kisses and squeezes his brothers goodnight every night. His lobster print boxers are his favorite underwear. He's trying to learn how to jump rope.

Every morning I wake to him snuggled up next to me, having crept under my covers during the night. He is warm and friendly, compassionate and sensitive. He likes to do science experiments and play on the Wii with his friends. He loves to build with his Legos making space ships with laser guns, then staging great battles between them.

He like to pull pranks on his family with rubber snakes, insects, and rodents. He owns a whoopie cushion and he uses it. When I have not hidden it. He loves to call his Dad at work just to say hello. He often describes himself as shy. He eats spaghetti with abandon, steamed clams, raw carrots, and huge bowls of ice cream.

On Saturday, he will turn seven. But today he is still deliciously six.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fill-In

1. I enjoy being, doing, exploring with my kids, and I also enjoy time to be alone and ponder, create, and just be.

2. Sarah Palin?? VP?? Really?? McCain?? A change?? Huh?? is something I wonder about often lately.

3. In your heart, you knew the Presidential campaign would turn ugly.

4. Take Obama, add a little Biden and you end up with a REAL chance for change.

5. Life has gifted me with a healthy loving family and the freedom and time to spend my days with them.

6. Going to the beach is an instant vacation. Also, sipping wine at night and watching Daily Show clips on my computer.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to spending time with some homeschool moms, tomorrow my plans include my eldest son's soccer game and having my in-laws for dinner and Sunday, I want to plan my youngest son's 7th birthday and watch him play soccer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Catch a Wave

The waves were breaking huge the other day after a storm had blown through and we hit the beach with our boogie boards. If you are reading this and don't know what a boogie board is, its like a long sturdy kickboard meant for laying on and riding the waves into shore. Once you start its hard to stop. This photo is from a much mellower day, and its blurry, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the thing I noticed about the wave-riders the other day, was the wide variety of ages and sizes of those who came in the water to play. Often its just the families with young kids and some teens splashing in the cold Atlantic, but the big waves proved too alluring to pass up for those who still had a playful spirit. It was heartening to see everyone catching their waves and smiling as they coasted into shore. Then, board in hand, they would head back out for more. The sound of the crashing waves was loud and constant, but then someone would catch a good one and a whooping holler would rise above the din. I couldn't help but smile, watching so many people spontaneously playing in the waves. It was a treat for the soul.

Not just a fad cause it's been going on so long (catch a wave, catch a wave)

All the surfers going strong
They said it wouldn't last too long
They'll eat their words with a fork and spoon
And watch 'em they'll hit the road and all be surfin' soon
And when they catch a wave they'll be sittin' on top of the world

~The Beach Boys