Being an adult home school learner….

Remember this is my self-declared year of education?

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I realized I was actually kind of smart and not completely dumb. Somehow- the fact that I am lousy at memorizing and regurgitating (seemingly) useless information meant that I was a mediocre student at best.  What was the point? If I didn’t understand the WHY something was important, then the testing me on what, who, where etc.  was useless.

Always easily moving from one project to the next, working in a circular fashion- not finishing one thing before then moving on to the next, and the next and the next;  didn’t really work in my favour in school- which often rewarded folks for being doggedly head-down focused-on-the-task-at-hand to the point of completion.

Now, I DID get an after school job as a waitress when I was 14, working in a road side diner- and I rocked at waiting tables! Holding multiple orders in my head, being able to survey a room and quickly take stock over what was priority- getting food to tables while hot, vs. refills on coffee, the tables cleaned new folks sat, bills to tables, orders to the kitchen and smiling and joking with folks the whole time. NOW that I was SMART at- and my tip jar proved it. My early travels as a teenager to New York, Scotland, England and Spain were paid for by waiting tables (with a bit of help from mom and dad).

No one thought to point out what a fine education I was getting in the restaurant.

I learnt to formalize my multi-tasking brain.

The lesson learned of prioritizing and being comfortable with so much in a state of incompletion, yet all things moving forward  at different speeds was a fine, fine lesson indeed.

Life is like that- if it was neat and tidy it would be boring!

If it is complete, that means we have “woken up dead” and that is definitely boring.

Living is all about being able to be in some level of chaos and uncertainty, and be able to prioritize what is really important, and sort what we need to spend our time and energy on.

Learning how to see one task through to completion has its place, but that place still does not exist very often in my world. I have managed to harness my mania for multi-tasking and could not do what I do for a living without those core waitressing skills at play.

And I realize that as a  self-employed artist, I choose what I am doing next mostly because it offers me a chance to learn something I am interested in;   from specific techniques,  plants, ecology, people I want to spend time with,   finding the networks and connections in systems- there is so much to learn!

So every day, I bumble from computer work, domestic tasks, maybe some fibre-y stuff, maybe some planting stuff, digging stuff, meeting others stuff- and everywhere I turn there is something new to be marvelled at, questioned and learned.

I could have rocked as a home schooler in my childhood.

summers spent travelling east coast or west coast each summer developed my love of travel and interest in the land- and respect for lobsters!

summers spent travelling east coast or west coast each summer developed my love of travel and interest in the land- and respect for lobsters!

Yet, I suspect the training of how to survive in a world that runs in a linear fashion of tasks, completion, evaluation set me up well for the life I now live- let’s call it a balance.

I know how to function for instance in writing grants, running a project and  submitting final reports, So in a sense training me counter to my instinctual method of working in circles has given me a balance point somewhere in the middle.

But it would have been nice to have had more recognition from “The Institution” in my early years that MY way of working was also valuable. Curious how we each learn, and learning how we individually learn is one of the best things we can each learn about ourselves so we can progress in a self-empowered way.

Right now I am learning about linen: Penny is leading the charge in the studio as our knowledge base and key researcher, I am sharing on the physical labour and doing the funding hunt. Right now we are small time as we sort out our process, and hopefully we can go bigger to the community next year. But meanwhile I am learning about things like “double-digging” for turning sod. I am also learning about erosion control through wattle building and fence weaving with Brian Jones at MOP- and I am always learning about playing nicely with others- the big lesson in kindergarten continues to be one of the most valuable lessons of all- having others to work with and play with just makes everything so much better and more enjoyable- not to mention even possible. Learning how to include others in the process, hear others ideas and facilitate the group in those many different directions that become a part of the whole is so valuable, and there is always more to learn.

Identifying as an adult home schooler is a great way to live, and like juggling plates in the diner, knowing how many you can carry is vital to success! Interestingly,  4 plates was always comfortable from kitchen to table, 5 was possible- but a bit nerve racking,  4 projects running in various points is easy- it’s still that 5th plate of responsibility that trips me up. Tha’ts it for my computer time for now- I should go plant something or wash dishes or…

2 responses to “Being an adult home school learner….

  1. Everything they teach you as a teenager seems to come under the heading of ‘useless information’ because you have no frame of reference to know what will be important to you in the future.

    What your teachers were teaching you was how to learn, and a basic set of knowledge that will get you by in all the possible futures you might choose for yourself. Sounds like one-size-fits-all, but Imagine a school system where pupils were taught that finishing things isn’t important? Would you want your surgeon/hairdresser/car mechanic to have gone through that system? Personally, I prefer my surgeons to come from your “woken up dead” system of education, and I find it hard to imagine a professional that I have to deal with who I would prefer to be someone who leaves things unfinished.

    So what your post is doing, is calling for a system where the linear and lateral thinkers are shoe-horned into a system that is designed for circular thinkers who don’t like to stick at something for very long. Isn’t that just another form of the learning-syle prejudice that you’re decrying?

    That you had the initiative to find a way to harness your own particular attentional style to your personal satisfaction is good. But, it wouldn’t have happened unless your teachers had exposed you to algebra, Riel, Newton’s First Law, the carbon cycle and drawing until you found what floated your boat.

    • No I don’t want everyone to have learn in the style that I learn, but being able to recognize that there are more ways of learning then just one is important- and talking with current educators now I hear this is happening- which is a good thing! It was a concept in principal when I was young, my dad being in education got it- but that doesn’t mean the teachers I was with every day did…..having parents who fortunately understood that I was a “different learner” was very, very good… As I said, being forced to learn in a linear way did give me a balance, but self-esteem wise, and having belief in my own abilities to observe, learn and respond there were very few teachers who took the time to recognize that there was any value to my way of working/learning. Had there been more recognition, it likely would not have taken me so long to discover my own strengths… in the end I got there, but I suspect there were lots of fellow circular workers out there without as strong a support system from home that likely never did develop a belief in their own abilities.and that’s a shame.

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