“No More School” and Other Important Topics

Emma (and I) will be presenting at the TASH Conference in Washington DC December 3-5.  We haven’t been given the exact date for our presentation yet, but once I know I will inform all of you.  I will be co-presenting with Emma, but the title, Rethinking Your Beliefs About Autism, and topic are Emma’s idea and I will be following her lead (as always.) 

On the “no more school” front, we are busy.  So busy I am having difficulty finding time to write anything for this blog.  I keep thinking once we get into the swing of things that will change.  I keep thinking if I just plan better, each day will move along easily and we will (miraculously) get the list of all the things we will do and cover, that I so painstakingly made upon getting up in the morning, done.  I even bought a Daily Planner, one of those things everyone used to use before we had smart phones, so that I could record all the subjects we are covering and the length of time spent on each…  Before you fall off your chairs laughing, I DIDN’T give in to my impulse to use a color coding system, so there’s at least that.  (Not that using a color coding system isn’t a great idea and if you tell me in the comments that’s EXACTLY what you do and how fabulous it works for you I promise to be impressed and probably quite envious as well.)

Here’s the thing about all of this.  So much of the problem I’m having is less with our daily adventures and more with the ideas I have about what we SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be doing.  It’s reminding me of the presentation Emma and I gave earlier this summer here in New York City.  I wanted to write everything I was going to say out onto little index cards, which I then planned to read out loud, pausing now and then for Emma to type whatever she wanted to add.  Emma, though, had very different thoughts about how we should do our presentation.  And in the end, as it was Emma’s presentation, we did as she wanted.  We winged it.  (What the hell is the past tense of “to wing it?”)  Winging it is pretty much what we are doing now, only instead of doing this for one presentation, we are doing this every single day and I know, I really, really know there’s got to be freedom in that once I stop hyperventilating.  

Meanwhile, just as she did during our presentation this past July, Emma is having a great time amidst learning about the cosmos, Hubble’s Law, light years, our ancestors, one of whom was a Colonel in the garrison of the King of France in the battle of Seneffe, where he died, against William III of Orange (who knew?) learning German, discussing current events, creative writing, AND planning a dinner party Emma intends to have, along with making up the guest list and meal I am to prepare.

There are several more exciting things in the works writing-wise, but more about all of that another time. 

It’s time for bed, though Emma may well stay up far longer than me.  She has a number of things she wants to do before going to sleep…

The Duke of Enghien saving his father, the Grand Condé at the battle of Seneffe: painting from 1786 by Bénigne Gagneraux

The Duke of Enghien saving his father, the Grand Condé at the battle of Seneffe: painting from 1786 by Bénigne Gagneraux

16 responses to ““No More School” and Other Important Topics

  1. How about….”we decided to wing it”. Honestly, you gotta cut yourself some slack here. “School” just started for everyone else, so since you’ve been homeschooling all summer, consider yourself ahead of the game. Everything will fall into place. And if it doesn’t, there’s always those color coded planners you can fall back on. 🙂 Maybe some yoga would help (kidding!!!).

  2. “Winged it” reads just fine to me — “winged” is the past tense of the verb in its primary usage. (Aside: I love how the phrases “wing it” and “on the fly” use the same imagery.)

    It sounds like Emma is having a most stimulating educational experience: I remember that my best times at school were when I was able to follow my interests beyond the prescribed curriculum. I was lucky to have some great teachers who put in time outside the regular classes to cover extra, interesting stuff. Education should nurture a passion for learning, and it seems that Emma certainly has that passion. That suggests you’re doing it right! 🙂

  3. I hope so, Alex. It is certainly less stressful for all of us and more fun too!

  4. You are doing great. Emma is directing her curriculum and her pace. That’s what makes it fun and truly educational. Enjoy!

  5. The speed of light at which you have all moved over the last year or two….is AMAZING…and must be a little exhausting…in a different way. 🙂 Best to you all as you continue to live it! I want you to know that one of the things Emma has taught me is that there really are not many real “shoulds”…they are often deceptions and fillers in my mind, when usually the answer is right before me just waiting for me to recognize that it will unfold. This has allowed me to more fully trust my students … and myself. Thank you for sharing your lives.

  6. How wonderful that you found a beautiful painting of the Battle of Seneffe! I always believed in the power of visual aids, and now that we know one of Emma’s g-g-g-g-grandfathers was killed in that battle, it makes it personal as well.

    • I’m still trying to find out more about it. Sounded pretty brutal. I loved how one person wrote that while there was no decisive winner or loser as they both retreated, both sides claimed victory!

  7. usethebrainsgodgiveyou

    The hardest thing in the world was for me to give up “schooling” Ben. It took the 3rd year to really start to “unschool.” But look at it this way….you know what school was doing for Emma…why would you want to repeat that? Break out, break free…but record it in that planner. You will look back and be amazed how organized you were! I, for one, am impressed. Those daily planners are a Godsend. You can buy teachers plan books which leave a lot of room for notes, and show the week at a time, and plan months ahead. They are very sturdy, and about 15 bucks. They are all you need to be “certified kosher”. No color coding, though.

    • Love this. Also I’m starting to see how these ingrained ideas about how we learn really are SO ingrained and do not hold up under further examination. Beginning to see this as a life style change that encompasses so much more than “schooling.”

  8. Oh I remember those days so well! The files went hand in hand in with a forest load of educational equipment catalogues! Eventually we learnt to wing it and they seemed to thrive.

  9. Re: color coding, I had a colleague that had an intense color coding and notation system that made her calendar looks like a cross of a photo by the Hubble telescope and a Monet. I think there was a certain kind of genius there!

  10. As a former teacher I am happy to say that some of my best teaching moments where when I was “winging it” and went with the flow of my students’ passions and interests. You and Emma will be fabulous together, of that I have no doubt. Will love reading about your adventures here!

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