First let me say that I am being sooo disciplined right now. Why, you ask? Because my kids and I just returned from an evening Barnes & Noble run, instigated by me (although they were happy enough to be ‘forced’ to go book shopping) because I had to get Book 5 of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. I had to get it because I just finished Book 4, at the end of which one of the characters dies but we aren’t told who it was and I simply MUST KNOW! But am I forsaking the writing of my blog tonight and curling up with my newly acquired book instead? No, faithful readers, I am not. Points for me.
Ok, now, to the topic at hand. When people ask me about life learning and unschooling and socializing and how can kids learn without a curriculum and etc., I always want to laugh. I want to laugh because all you have to do is live your life and be somewhat aware of the world around you to learn everything you need to know and then some. This holds true not just for kids, but for anyone. For me, too. Take today…
I was on my morning coffee run and made a detour to 72nd St. to pick up a paper for Joshua. I noticed a group of people – maybe 30 or so – standing outside the 72nd St. subway station. There were local TV crews and people taking photos. So I walked over to see what was going on. What was going on was the official opening of a public exhibit of sculpture by the artist Peter Woytuk. We’ve already seen a couple of the sculptures since they were installed over the past few days and because of their size they would be extremely difficult to miss. Still, it was kind of cool that this was the official opening, so I stopped to listen and tried to pick out the artist from among the people standing behind the microphones. My guess was that Mr. Woytuk was probably the guy in jeans and a white shirt, wearing a bandana around his head and with long hair. He read ‘artist’ to me. Never would I have picked out the guy standing next to him, wearing the conservative gray suit. Preconceived notions are pesky things.
A few minutes later the ribbon was cut and, being only a few feet away, I went up and introduced myself to Mr. Woytuk, offering congratulations on the exhibit and telling him that I was only sorry my kids weren’t with me. He was very nice and suggested we take in the bulls sculpture up at Broadway and 168th, because the kids can climb all over them. We may do a run of the complete exhibit on a nice afternoon this coming week. In the meantime we’ve perused Mr. Woytuk’s website , and found out that after graduating from Kenyon College with a degree in Art, he learned to sculpt through an “old-school style apprenticeship” with the sculptor Philip Grausman.
Here’s the thing. Had I been paying less attention on my morning walk, I might have missed meeting Mr. Woytuk and subsequently learning more about him, his work and the sculpture I’ll be passing every day until the installation is taken down, a few months from now. As it is, I didn’t have to go to a gallery or do a lot of research, I just had to open my eyes and take the smallest of initiatives.
Of course in this case it helps that we live in New York, but no matter where you live there are opportunities to learn and absorb and increase your knowledge. You don’t even need to deviate from your daily routine most of the time. Learning is living and vice versa. It’s not something that must happen in a special place set aside for that purpose.