Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Making Enki Your Own

There are many ways to start homeschooling. Some people will research and plan for months. Some will jump right in and barely stay a step ahead each day. Some will combine the methods. And some, some will change their minds...

Not about Enki, no. The philosophy is amazing and multiculturally it moves into a place that isn't a "multicultural method"...it is a way of life. Developmentally it meets the children right where they need it. To me, it is the premiere holistic education curriculum.

I did jump into Enki with both feet, with almost zero planning time. I was up each night planning the next day; choosing stories, reading guides, etc. It was right, it was what we needed to do. Educationally my children were served well. As a family, however, something wasn't quite right.

It was as though we had laid an Enki mask over ourselves, thinking that doing it would make it real. I mean this as no criticism of Enki Education, but even adapted for homeschoolers it can be too rigid; it is not a criticism of Enki because I don't think Enki means it to be rigid. But still, you have to hit certain points throughout the day. You are encouraged not to go out much. Sometimes the suggestions are pretty strong "shoulds".

Over time we did make Enki a part of our lives, more than just a mask. But it wasn't by lighting candles and singing developmentally appropriate seasonal songs. The biggest change has been how I see people, and how that affects everything I do with my children. The concept that wisdom, vitality, and compassion belong to all of us has changed me profoundly. Not only because I acknowledge those things in other people (both now and in all times and places), but because I acknowledge them in myself!

Now that I have spent some time working with the Enki philosophy, and also have a couple of years of homeschooling under my belt, I am seeing things more clearly. Certainly my experience with the Holistic Family and Enki Experience groups has also influenced me. I see that there is this desperate desire to do things right. I see people who are afraid to tweak even the littlest things. How many people try to set up their days exactly like the Pretend family? How many people are afraid that they won't do the watercolor painting right?

We can't parent out of fear, and we can't educate our children out of fear. Heck, we can't live if we are afraid of everything. We need to find our wisdom. It's there, perhaps hidden, but always present.

Certainly, there is a point where you veer off so far from Enki philosophy that you are no longer following the blueprint. However, I do see that there is room within it to make Enki a living, breathing part of your family.

Now that we are on break I am able to sit back and observe who we really are. I can clearly identify that we don't want to limit ourselves to one social outing once a week. I can tell you right now that I don't want to be held so firmly to a rhythm that we can't be flexible and join friends for tea and a romp in the park.

Away from Enki academics, we are far more relaxed, easy-going family. We can pick up and do a spur-of-the-moment "field trip" whenever we want. We can get together with friends. We have far more time to read aloud.

Okay, so that sounds a bit like unschooling. I'm not bashing Enki - I love Enki! The break has just given me a different perspective. I don't want to recreate school at home, not even an Enki school. It is highly unlikely that we'll start our main lesson at 9 a.m. everyday. I'm not going to devote the hours of 8-2 to educational pursuits.

This is still unformed; I still have plenty of time to think. My goal is to take this wonderful philosophy, the materials, the methods, and make them uniquely ours.

4 comments:

maya said...

hmmm, interesting. In my experience of enki and with beth I have never felt there are many "shoulds" in enki. it's one of the reasons i feel freed up, after being in waldorf. the beauty of it to me is there are recommendations, but ultimately it comes down to finding what works for your indivdual family. for me it's also been a process of letting go of some things i was holding too tightly, and firming up some other thigns that were too loose. readjusting to what works for us. and for us, that is quite a bit of social time, being out in the world, spontaneous trips. and enki keeps me grounded the rest of the time. school need only be a few hrs of each day, after all : )

APKimberMama said...

That's great, Maya. Every family does need to make Enki work for them and every family will use it differently.

I do think there are "shoulds", things that make Enki, well, Enki. Obviously the big pieces like the 3-fold learning process, cultural immersion, movement...without these things Enki really isn't Enki.

However, I hear people get hung up on quiet time, wet-on-wet watercolor painting, etc. I don't think it is a downfalling of Enki, so much as overwhelm at the amount of materials. Also, I think Enki is really just now being adapted for home use, moreso by the current crop of new users than the old Enki homeschoolers who blazed the trail.

Enki in the grades also has more things that "should" be done, such as practice time. Without practice time you take away the "mastery" portion of the "Developmental-mastery program. I found that we needed more time at home once we began working in grade 1.

For me, I think, the key is finding the balance between adhering to each sentence in the Enki guide as an absolute rule, versus decontructing it so far as to lose the Enki blueprint. It is true that "school" is only a few hours each day, especially if one is following a "school-at-home" format, but for us Enki learning is a 24 hour a day process. It is a constant taking of the pulse; an awareness of contraction and expansion, of integration vs. disintegration. My goal now is to find a way to keep a strong rhythm while allowing spontenaity. I think a big part of that is going to be utilizing all of the hours that the boys are awake and perhaps moving practice time to free up our afternoons.

"Shoulds" are a Kimberly problem. I have struggled with perfectionism my whole life. If Beth says that we should have quite time every afternoon then I find it hard to let go of that. I know quite a few families will read about quiet time and disregard it with no ill consequences. Some will disregard it when it would serve them well. Some will adhere to it when they don't have a need. It would be impossible to write about every possibl permutation in the guides (they are big enough already!).

Anyway, I am babbling here, somehow trying to defend my post when you weren't challenging it...you were just offering your experience. So please forgive me if I took any of your post the wrong way.

Peace.

Angie said...

I know that you wrote this ages ago, but it really resonated with me and I wanted to note that I find myself as a new Enki user (doing only kindergarten, mind you)feeling tense about doing it wrong.

I do feel like there's this sense in our culture in general, that technique is life, i.e., that if we learn how to do something correctly, the spirit of what we are trying to do will filter through. I think it comes from hoping that everyone else has the answers and that we can just crib them.

I applaud you for finding your own way, experimenting, and trying to keep the spirit of what your doing at the heart.

Depsite grumbling about the blog world, I've really enjoyed reading your musings.

Angie

APKimberMama said...

Thank you so very much for your comment, Angie. When people comment I know that it is worth writing the blog.

Peace,

Kimberly