Monday, February 4, 2013

Errands and Education

Today was an errand day in our neighborhood. First we walked about 1km to Maha Bazaar, home of our favorite candied fennel seeds. We bought out their stock (600g), and wished there were more. I don't know why, but other brands of fennel seeds we've tried have been entirely unsatisfactory. But the Maha Bazaar house brand rocks! Sadly, we did not see any cows, even though we're well into "cows in the street" territory in that part of the neighborhood.

After that we went to Fabinida so Robert could buy a shirt. I have mixed feelings about Fabindia, truth be told. They have a better selection of ethnic wear for men and kids than most place, but their prices are high, and their women's clothing is kind of boring. But, Robert got a nice shirt, so that was good.

Our next stop was Kwality Big Bazaar, to buy almonds. The almonds that we've had from Maha Bazaar and Big Basket aren't as good! And have I complained about the price of almonds lately?? Toasted, salted almonds are $20/lb. Raw ones are less, we paid $10 today for 15oz. Up until we found this particular brand, the kids refused to eat the raw ones, so I guess I'm grateful. If we didn't have such a paucity of quick, healthy snacks they can eat in these parts I wouldn't buy almonds in such quantity, but as it stands...I do. They are by far the most expensive consumable we buy, and that includes alcohol and chicken. Crazy, huh?

I also bought some Himalaya face products while we were at Kwality (the "we"in this case was me and Liel, as Zion and Robert had scurried off to Cane Crush for a parota as soon as I mentioned that I needed a couple things). Nothing fancy- just a walnut scrub and some face cream that claims to have anti-wrinkle properties. India has been tough on my skin. I don't know if it's the different water, the increased air pollution, or what, but I'm hoping this stuff might be a slight improvement.

Then we came home and had tea. I'm making chicken with green beans and red peppers for dinner, and Zion just announced that he finished The Two Towers! Which reminds me of this New York Times opinion piece I read yesterday about boys and school. The basic information wasn't new to me (I've read some on this subject before...), though it was interesting to see the unconscious biases that teachers often held. However, what particularly caught my attention was the comment about how Canada, the UK and Australia are working to make school more boy-friendly in part by giving them more reading options. Reading options that include science fiction and fantasy. And I thought about my 8 year old reading Tolkien, and thought, yeah. If he'd been going to school, and if that school dictated what sorts of books he was to read for schoolwork and homework, I kind of doubt he'd be the amazing and voracious reader that it he is (at least, maybe not yet). Homeschooling ain't always easy. There are struggles over getting work done, frustrations in teaching and the constant worry that I'm missing something, shortchanging them in some way. As with parenting in general, homeschooling doesn't come with an instruction manual! But sometimes, for a moment, the sun breaks through the clouds and I can see a bit more clearly, and I think, "yes! Well, at least I'm doing that part right!" And I had one of those moments thinking about Zion and the complete freedom he has in his reading choices. I think he'd have become an amazing and committed reader under most circumstances, because my boy loves words and stories, but I think that by allowing him to choose what he wants to read he's grown as a reader faster than I would have dreamed possible. And more than that, he owns his reading. Reading Tolkien is a challenge for him, and he rarely reads more than a chapter at a time. But he keeps going back to it, unprompted, because he wants to read it. He chose it. He knows he can do it, and he knows its worth the struggle.

This is my hope and my goal in homeschooling my kids: that they will own their education and their learning. That it will not be something that is done to them, or even for them, but something that is done by them, because the world is interesting, amazing, magnificent, complex, and bewildering and they want to be in the thick of it.

Trying to navigate this as a mama, teacher, and guide is kind of a leap of faith, and I'm so grateful for the little moments of clarity like the one I had today.

And also for the fennel seeds. Of course. 

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