Discovery and invention appear to be at odds; but rather than being angrily being against one another, discovery and invention are a necessary tension humanity must balance. Where these two concepts come together is a beautiful place. In the place where discovery and invention come together, we find engagement through authenticity – it is where flow can begin, thrive and grow. Flow is a rare state in classrooms and homeschooling houses in our communities. This is unacceptable. When did it become unacceptable to follow a passion project? When did we decide what and how everyone must learn? Break the mold, allow for flow, see where we can go.
May is always the time when I sit with what has worked for us and ponder the ways in which we’ve boxed ourselves in stopping up genuine and driven learning. It’s a time of considering curriculum, schedules, and activities. I reconsider our goals, priorities and our path for keeping these things in the forefront. As I reflect on our past year, I’m seeing moments of brilliance and excitement and way too much busy and robotic. I’ve found a lack of time to allow for deep learning, flow experiences and invention. So now I’m on a quest to insert extra times of wide open learning into our schedule for next school year. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a leading flow scientist, has written “An activity that produces such experiences is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, with little concern for what they will get out of it, even when it is difficult, or dangerous” (Collins, 2020). Isn’t that what we want for our children? Don’t we want them to dig in and learn for its own sake?
Practically, I know we still need to use a curriculum for a couple of our subjects but I also know that there has to be a way for us to take intentional breaks that tear us away from our normal and give us space to be, explore and go where our brains wish to journey. What is it going to look like? I’m not fully sure yet but what I do know is that I have set aside six weeks of our school year as white space for such moments. I hope these are not our only times of flow, discovery and intention but rather I hope they are extended times of such. Where in a normal week we may only be able to give a couple hours to these “mental rabbit trails,” in our flow weeks we can dedicate as much time as necessary. During these weeks, I intend to clear our external schedules meaning no doctor appointments, no preplanned field trips, and as few external activities as possible without being irresponsible or disrespectful. Will we all work together to discover, explore and invent or will the boys work independently knowing we are all here and can rally at a moment? I’m not sure. It’s all evolving. But I’m certain it is worth trying and I would invite you to consider the same.
If dedicating whole weeks sounds like too much for your family, you can also try personal projects similar to those that we have done in the past. It is a way for you to get your toes wet without jumping all the way into the pool.
However you find a way to insert times for digging in for the sake of digging in, keep it smart and keep it simple.
Collins, B. (2020, March 31). 3 Surprising Benefits Of Flow State. Forbes; Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryancollinseurope/2020/03/31/3-surprising-benefits-of-flow-state/?sh=2f9a185b3627