I used to sporadically blog, but that was a long time ago (the last post written over 10 years past). I’ve been wanting to dip my toes back into the blogging ocean, and so when Ana opened up a blogging party centered on the theme of 31 days exploring “Why I love to Homeschool”, I thought this would be the perfect impetus to dive on in.
There are so many reasons I love homeschooling; family-time, a custom-tailored education, character building moments, and frankly most (though not all) of the time, it’s a lot of fun! It was hard at first to choose just one word, but as I reflected I realized that one of the big reasons we love our homeschool life is that it gives us the chance to fully appreciate the “Wabi” in it all.
You may be asking; “What is this “Wabi” you speak of?” I first learned of the term in one of my all time most favourite books, They Have a Word For It . This book explores terms that don’t have any direct equivalent in English. Here, in an excerpt from the book, is a description of what Wabi means:
To many people, who see the world through modern sensibilities,
beauty is represented by … technological sleekness, smoothness, and
symmetry… A highly prized Japanese teacup, which might fetch tens
of thousands of dollars from a collector, might be very simple, roughly
fashioned, asymmetrical, and plainly coloured. It would not be
uncommon to find a crack. The crack –the beautiful, distinctive,
aesthetic flaw that distinguishes the spirit of the moment in which the object was
created from all other moments in eternitymight indeed be the very feature
that would cause a connoisseur to remark; “This pot has wabi.” (p 75)
Or as our Canadian Bard, Leonard Cohen puts it; “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.”
How do I see the wabi in our homeschooling? It is in the idea that we have the time together to create and appreciate those authentic moments; in the learning, in the playing, in the daily dross of chores, in the moments of failure and in the moments of joyful success, all of these factors come together in a completely singular manner. Our education is not institutionalized or packaged to conform to a preconceived norm, and it includes all aspects of life. I don’t have to try and polish it to an outwardly impressive glow, in its’ roughness we see beauty. As we travel this learning journey together, we have the freedom of a quantity of time that lets us create and appreciate who we are, both in relation to each other and individually. My children have learned well, that I am not the perfect Stepford Mother/Teacher, and my children are not perfect, factory made, automated prodigies, in this we are the same as all mothers and all children. We each have unique gifts and flaws. The way homeschooling allows us to celebrate the gifts and work through the flaws as we learn, brings us to the beauty of wabi. In our homeschool we have seen the light of forgiveness, reconciliation, perseverance, creativity, and so on flow through the cracks of stubbornness, short tempers, defiance, impatience, a desire to give up and so on.
If wabi is about loving the whole unique entity in a way that sees the beauty of things that are still imperfect and still incomplete, if it is a humble loveliness, one that does not depend on conventions or a standardized target that must be obtained, well then the homeschool life is the perfect place to experience this type of beauty. Sometimes our wabi beauty is more whimsical, as when my four-year-old upon hearing the name Shakespeare excitedly exclaimed; “Shakespeare! I LOVE his music!” When my two boys very seriously decided to exercise by making up their own dances to pirate shanties, their unique, wonderful weirdness (I do not see this phrase as an insult) was full of wabi joy.
Sometimes the wabi beauty comes from a place that is more wounded than whimsical. I have a serious lack of patience (when I hear “I can’t homeschool because I don’t have the patience” I immediately think – “Me too!”). My boys have watched me struggle with patience when the learning goes hard, when they push my buttons, when I can’t find a way to explain what I’m trying to convey, when I’m overtired or just plain distracted. Those moments when I give in to the impatience are cracks in our day, in our relationship, in our learning. When they see me praying for help in this area and see the resulting slow steady growth happening, when they experience my asking them for forgiveness and they give it freely, when they apologize for their part in it (if there was one) and receive their own open armed forgiveness, these moments are the light coming through. Homeschool gives us the time to not only form our wabi-ness, but also to appreciate the beauty of it. Just today, as I was trying to finish up this post, we had an altercation around noise and mess and I sent them outside with anger in my voice. While out there they picked what might be seen as a bunch of dead plants (we don’t have much Spring growth here yet). They rang the doorbell and with joyful anticipation told me “We picked you flowers because they make you happy. Love you Mommy”. Forgiveness, grace, love and the incomparable beauty of a bouquet of dried weeds, I can think of no better picture to explain why the wabi we get is one of my favourite things about homeschooling.