The further I go into reading about education and home schooling, the more I get twitchy about my kid's stuff.
If I wanted to categorize my philosophical leanings, I'd put me in the uptight hippie category. We do a lot of what they call attachment parenting, and, surprising to no one, for good or bad, we are a child centered household. I got me a couple of nekkid kids for a good portion of each day, take in more live music than television, and generally let the children chose their own activities and then be available for technical support. Emotionally tuned in with healthy doses of physically staying out of their way. I'd rather see them crying because they tried but it didn't work out then to have them cry because they didn't even get a chance. Except for the partying, I think we've got the hippie bit down.
The uptight part is that our (The Man and I) behaviors are primarily ethically driven. And it is a pain in the butt for other people, or at least they are fond of telling me so. We shop in some stores but not others. We make things ourselves when it doesn't make monetary or time sense. If we can, we'll dive for treasure and make do or just do without (almost unheard of in this time of buy everything you ever wanted right now all in one place). We drive this tiny little twelve year old car, which we just learning now, absolutely freaks out some family members who believe we are basically a baby duck on a highway full of tanks. We are vegan. Every decision becomes a long, drawn out debate on pros and cons and what is best. We don't just do it.
Uptight. We are a bit annoying this way.
Reading about educating children puts this whole new set of considerations on my life. Am I hands on, guiding and instructing, or am I hands off, letting natural curiosity direct their curriculum? What sort of environment do I provide? What does enrichment mean anyway? Should I stock my house with beautiful things (with beautiful price tags), all natural wood, organic cotton and bamboo, soft colours and textures?
What about all the ugly among my creative manipulatives (i.e. toy shelf)? What about the dolls in night club wear with their not-BPA free faces molded into expressions of smoldering somnolence? What about the uniformly coloured emergency response figurines? With their cocked guns and riot shields? Do they quietly find themselves a new home, replaced by soft, blank-faced handmade companions, who serve as blank canvas for my little one's creative play?
Even if I believed I had the right to completely stage my children's environment, would I actually be able to pull it off? The plastic, the licensed, the inappropriate make their way into my home everyday, via grandparents, garage sale free boxes, roadside finds, and even, sometimes, by my own hand.
Is that bad?
I'm shooting for the middle ground. I think that if I can be an uptight hippie, I've already got the mental flexibility to pull of a balance between beautiful and garish. Organic and toxic. If my children desire big, clunky plastic monstrosities, then if they are to be found second hand for inexpensive or free, then they will have a resting place in our home, at least for a time.
Nature is a good guide. Nature isn't a positive or negative thing, it just is. It contains tongue-stopping beauty alongside heartbreaking brutality. I suspect this might be what is meant by an enriched environment. A mix of everything. Something for everyone.