What makes a life interesting?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the best answer I can think of is “texture”.
Texture, to someone like me who knits and sews, is of utmost importance. When I walk through a clothing store I will often touch the clothes for their texture before judging them by color or cut. The same goes with yarn or fabric – if the texture isn’t inviting (and inviting usually means something soft, lush or with depth) I’m going to move on.
When it comes to people, a textured life can manifest in many ways: People who love to garden probably enjoy the texture of the earth and the wild miracle that is the transformation of seed to edible plant; others love to cook and relish the textures and smells of dishes created in their kitchens; still others have stashes of fabric or yarn that they can pull out and transform into something new and wonderful.
Those things are external representations of the inner life of a person. An imperfect way to judge, to be sure, but If I walk into a home and the surfaces are all smooth, the colors muted, everything perfectly clean and in place, museum-like? My immediate suspicion is that the people who live there might be lacking in texture.
Conversely, jumbled homes (I was going to say messy, but some people equate mess with dirt, and a dirty or smelly house is NOT inviting in any way) with crackling fires, lush carpets or well worn floors, books lying open mid-read, music playing, etc. shout “Here live people with interesting, inviting, textured lives!”
Maybe this doesn’t sound like the right topic for an unschooling blog, but in my book, unschooling is all about texture. It’s about overlooking a little “jumble” in favor of a week long sewing or crafting project, or a flour covered counter as a result of baking cookies on the fly. It’s about learning in a completely non-linear, curiosity based fashion that is jumbled, lush and colorful. Unschooling is the house with the fireplace, books strewn around and music playing.
Schools, by and large, are anti-texture. If budgets are cut, (and sometimes even if they aren’t) the first things to go are arts related subjects. Schools do away with recess and focus on testing. In school it’s not about experimenting, but getting it right. You don’t read outside your “grade level” or associate with anyone not in your grade. You learn only as a means to an end, and not out of true curiosity or for pleasure. You are drilled in efficiency and organization and how neatly you wrote the answers and “showed your work”. This is the immaculate house with nothing but hard surfaces and empty counters. If there are books in this house, they are always neatly shelved.
On those days when you wonder if your unschooling child or children are learning in a way that will serve them best? Think of the magic of texture. Look around and I’m betting you’ll see a lot of it, from the things in your house that tell your unschooling story to the look in their eyes when they are doing whatever it is they love. It’s the greatest thing there is.
A beautiful, textured life.