Monday, February 11, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here, Part 2 . . . or Enki For Unschoolers

Over the years I've read several posts from people who have purchased Enki Education materials although the consider themselves to be "unschoolers at heart". I understand. I knew I was an unschooler at heart when my boys were 1 and 2. Soon though, I found that I was also a holistic education person at heart. You name a holistic education method, and I have probably spent some time working with it (the exception being Live Education).

Some long time readers of the blog may recall that I tossed all of that aside and spent a couple of months as a classical educator.  I've also dabbled in the Charlotte Mason method.

I think I have a pretty good grasp on what I think these days. I'm inspired by Enki Education and I use the Enki philosophy, along with some of the Enki materials and methods. I'm inspired by John Holt and the concept of unschooling. I absolutely believe that my boys will learn what they want and need to learn because learning is the natural human condition. And I pull in classical methods and materials when they make sense for us.

We're not eclectic. The label doesn't work for me. I am always working within the philosophies of holistic education and what John Holt termed unschooling. Addressing the needs of the whole child and the whole family (and indeed, the entire human community, and the earth itself), all the while trusting the child and trusting myself. I'm not mixing Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn, and IKEA. The actual definition of eclectic may fit us, but the connotation doesn't.

So, here is my in-a-nutshell take on working with Enki and unschooling.

One, figure out where you are. Do the Family Web exercises outlined in the Enki Homeschool Workbook. Then do the Family Rhythms section of the workbook.

What is important to you as a family? For us, our web has vitality, wisdom, and compassion at its core, with community, family, and nature as our our outer ring. Our family warp threads are music, health, rhythm, environment, travel, lifelong learning, relationships, and simplicity.

What does your day look like? What's working? What isn't? The Enki materials have some sound advice on setting up the rhythm of your day, but it isn't something you can overlay on your family. If one parent works the swing shift, morning may be family time and not a good time for focused lessons.  I myself don't transition easily to the day, nor does J-Baby, and T-Guy likes to get a solid hour of reading in each morning before he does anything else.  We aren't ready to come together in focused learning any earlier than mid-morning.

Is the environment nourishing?  Is there an opportunity for daily time spend outdoors?  Are there quiet places in the home where one can seek solitude?  For me, minimizing clutter is important, but I don't need stark minimalism either.  Does the environment exude a sense of comfort, warmth, and nourishment?  Are there spaces in which to be creative?

It really helps me to get a focus on our rhythms. Not only the daily rhythm but the weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms. For me, rhythm is the human heartbeat. Without the rhythm of the weeks, months, and year my life would have less meaning. Our weekly traditions bring us together as a family and create a sense of unity. Throughout the months there are occasions that we celebrate with friends and extended family. The year turns and we connect to all living things. Rhythm, purposeful rhythm, is part of being human.

Specific to Enki, I find it important to have a sense of where my child is developmentally, and also to know their strengths and opportunities when it comes to learning styles.  I need to know which stories are likely to resonate with them, and which may stretch them beyond comfort or fall flat.

We move in and out of focused learning as the boys seek more and then desire far less structure.  I know they are learning while the concepts sleep, and that the concepts will be reawakened when the time is right for the boys.

3 comments:

Summer said...

Thank you for writing this! I love Enki, it's a beautiful method. But We're definitely unschoolers at heart. And a part of me really likes classical. It's hard to blend all the styles into one.

Sunshine Alternative Mama said...

I think what worked for me, in terms of combining methods, was Beth's repeated insistence that Enki isn't a set of rules that you must follow. Then we moved past what was available in terms of resources, and I had to learn to trust myself.

It may very well be that listening to "The Story of the World" on CD while we drive to doctor's appointments isn't exactly Enki, but I've moved past the fear of doing it "wrong".

It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

dancer said...

Wow!
Thank you! Thank you!
I found your blog through the homespun waldorf forum.
I have been agonizing over this topic for quite some time.
I have such a hard time with the all or nothing attitude.
I love the waldorf/enki way but am a firm believer in unschooling. Your synopsis has given me a way to blend them together.