Thursday, August 10, 2006

Unschooling God

I sell Usborne Books. This is not to make extra money (though that would be nice). The real reason I sell them is because I love good books...and if I sell these, I get a discount on the fabulous Usborne books I buy. Sure, a party or order now and then is great, don't get me wrong! But I'm a book-a-holic (especially when it comes to my kids) and Usborne appeases that in me.

I recently placed an order and got a few new books for my kiddos. One is called Time Traveler. It's a bind-up of 4 different books about Knights, Vikings, Romans and Pharoahs. Hubby has been reading through it with Matthew each evening for a while now and Hubby likes it because, "It tells it like it really was - that gladiators were really slaves that fought to the death. It doesn't gloss over the real history just because it's a children's book." He came downstairs tonight after putting Matthew to bed, his face paused in sheer bewilderment.

"You know, when your kid does things that are out of the ordinary - like reading at a young age - you don't think that he's a genius. You figure that ok, he's ahead in this area - but not that he's a genius. But sometimes, you find it really hard to not be blown away."
I patiently eyed him suspiciously.
He continued, "We were reading about the Romans tonight while I was laying down with him. After lights-out, he asked me if they left real food for the gods. I told him they did and I told him that they only thought they were gods - there is only one true God. The conversation went like this..."
Matthew: "How do you know there is only one God?"
DH (dear husband): "Because He told us."
Matthew: "That's right - 'thou shalt have no other gods before me'."
~I must pause here and say that while we are definitely a Christian family, we don't push bible stories on the kids, just like we don't push anything else. We like to let them explore God in their own way. We do take them to church and we discuss God throughout our daily life. But this quote from Matthew took DH back a bit.~
DH: "Right. Where did you learn that?"
Matthew: "Daddy, turn on the light!"
Matthew grabbed one of his many Bible story books, flipped open to the page and showed DH. "See, it's one of the Ten Commandments!"

This leads me to thinking about more along that line...
Last week in VBS, Grandpa said that when he introduced the Bible story, Matthew was the only one who knew anything about it. But surely there were kids there who've attended church much more regularly than mine. I've had 3 kids in 6 years - we've spent many Sundays with at least one of us sick, I assure you. lol

I've always had issues with the way Bible stories are told to kids. You know that scene in the movie Contact (a fabulous movie, btw), where Ellie says something like, "I always asked too many questions in Sunday School - like where did Mrs. Cain come from? - after that, they asked me to stop coming back." I learned at an early age to take the stories at face value. I didn't really learn to explore what the stories meant to *me* until I was in my 20s. I also heard the same stories over and over and over again. SO many stories - good stories - are left out of 'curriculums' these days. It's *very* hard to even find a children's bible that doesn't have the same 50 stories as the next me, I've looked! What about the story where the young men were making fun of bald Elisha and he commanded two bears to come out of the woods and kill them? I never heard that one as a kid (I bet you didn't either! LOL). What about when Jesus curses the fig tree until it withers? My gut tells me that adults have trouble understanding some of these stories and instead of not knowing how to explain it, they shy away from even telling them to children. But my gut could be wrong. ;)

My brother is involved in a Montessori-based program called, Godly Play, which seems, to me, to be unschooling God. From what I understand, they have a playset for the kids - we'll use Noah's Ark and animals as an example - and they present the story with the facts along with the playset. Then, instead of saying, 'this is what this story means to you...' or 'the morale to the story is...' (as was usually said/implied to me), they use a bunch of "I wonder..." statements and help the kids brainstorm and explore the story and leave the sets out for the kids to re-experience the stories over and over. I think this is a good program for a group setting.

But taking things a step further (as I often like to, I like the unschooling God that we do around here. I'll leave you with a brief conversation we had today...

My kids had their first ever Blizzards today (for you non-USers, it's a treat by Dairy Queen that is basically ice cream with candy bits mixed into it - yum!). DQ was running a "proceeds to your local Children's Miracle Network" today for all the blizzards sold so we splurged. As an added bonus, I decided that it wouldn't kill us if we just skipped lunch and went straight for the ice cream - hey, they got peanut butter cups and ice cream - protein and dairy - not too shabby. ROFL So as I told the kids the plan, I expected them to be totally on board. Rose coudln't have been happier. Matthew however, thought about it for a few minutes before declaring, "I think it's a sin to not eat a healthy meal before having a sugary dessert!" This opened up a huge discussion about food and what God says about gluttony and how this is a one-time-deal-special-treat. In the end, he was more than happy to indulge, 'just this once'.

No comments: