Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Homeschooler's Chalice Lighting

I attend All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City. At the beginning of each service, a member is asked to read a Chalice Lighting to essentially open up the service and set the tone after the minister's introduction. It can be an already-published reading or a personal account. I prefer the personal accounts, so when I was selected to offer up the Chalice Lighting for today's service regarding lifelong learning within our congregation, the words came easily. After having a couple of friends look over it with impartial eyes, one asked me to publish it on my blog. So here you are. I could expound on the ideas as they apply both individually and to my congregation, but the Chalice Lighting is a short reading, so you get an edited-to-the-bones essay from me. (And that is rare!)

A chalice image similar to the one used at All Souls KC

As I grow as a homeschool parent, I am learning as much as my children about our shared universe. How can that be, given my distinct educational advantage over a 4 year old and 7 year old? It’s because I get to learn more and to watch my children suss out answers for which they hadn’t even developed questions just moments before. It’s because we get to experience discovery and wonder together and to inspire one another. There is an educational philosophy called Unschooling, which holds that learning is a natural part of living and takes place throughout life. It includes the concept of Lifelong Learning--that I have just as much responsibility to pursue self-education regarding my own interests as I expect of my children. And can’t we all learn more...about the world, about ourselves, about our roles within our relationships and communities?

Another parenting philosophy to which I subscribe is free range parenting, or resisting a societal belief that: Our children are in constant danger, and the role of a parent is to shield our children from all threats. I was a free-range kid; I daresay virtually all of us of a certain age and older were raised similarly. We explored at  will, played outside our caregivers’ awareness...We were trusted to come home with as many fingers and toes as we had left with in the morning. By extension, we learned to make decisions for ourselves...and yes, some of those decisions were poor ones...but we learned that failure was okay; we found our personal boundaries; we learned to trust ourselves--and to trust others.

I try to allow my own kids similar freedom, and although they are young, they often prove themselves more capable than I would have guessed. They problem-solve, adapt, accept challenges with enthusiasm and humility--making themselves vulnerable to failure while trying to meet those challenges. When one considers any personal or shared endeavor, aren’t those are the attributes of successful learning and growth?

I light the chalice this morning for the humility and shared trust--in both ourselves and our proverbial villages--that are hallmarks of successful lifelong learning and growth.

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