You Can't Read It All

I'm planning out school year and I'm running out of calendar days!

When I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, I learned that there are two kinds of writers: planner and pantsers (aka, those who fly by the seat of their pants). I'm a pantser who wishes I was a planner. I know that I work best when I have a specified list of goals - it's like having a map to my destination so I don't have to waste my time wandering through the woods trying to determine which side of the trees the moss grows on.

But I also find that when I sit and try to plan, I find it painfully difficult to narrow my focus towards one direction. There are so many good things, and I don't want to miss out on a single one of them! I've sat before my planner (This one. I love this one) and let my pen hover above the page while I deliberated: four-year history cycle or long-and-detailed deep-dives into the characters and eras that we find most fascinating? I've held up the botany curriculum and weighed it next to mechanical science. And what about Shakespeare? We really need to add that. And according to my Charlotte Mason book, Blue should be starting Plutarch's Lives this year...

I've wanted to add classical music but which composer do I NOT included in this year's list? Which artist should I NOT plan to appreciate?

My planner was still empty after three days of "planning" because had so many things I wanted to explore with my kids and I just couldn't figure out how to add all of them!

I have this problem with books, too. When I finish one and have to pick the next one, I often freeze in indecision because a move towards one book is a move away from another book. And even though I have shelves of books that I own but haven't read yet, I'm still compelled to buy more books because there are so many books out there that need to be read. And I want to read all the books!

Here's the duh, obvious strategy: learn for the love of it. Not to check something off the list, not to meet some arbitrary standard. A huge part of my homeschooling philosophy - one that I inherited from my mother - was that the material set before you in the school day is there because it's interesting, it's fascinating, because it's pleasurable to learn.

Instead of thinking in terms of how much information needs to be learned divided by how more years of school they have, the school years could be about building the habit of regularly acquiring wisdom and knowledge.

That's how I was raised - to love to learn, to view available knowledge as a buffet of tantalizing and delicious feast of learning and to go back for more again and again, for the rest of my life. In all my curriculum planning, I can't loose sight of the forest for the trees. I can't forget that by the time they reach adulthood, my kids may not remember the specifics of unit that we did on the neurology, but hopefully they will remember how incredible it felt to be wowed by a newly discovered aspect of the miracle of the human brain - and it will shape them into adults who still crave that sense of wonder.

You can't learn it all. You can't read it all. At least, you can't read it all in grade school...


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