Question: What happens when a grown homeschooler doesn’t feel self-motivated?
Answer: She feels really guilty instead.
When I’m defending homeschooling, or just plain talking about how great it is, I almost always cite self-motivation. Sometimes people make comments like, “I couldn’t have been homeschooled. I was too lazy.” And I go, “Ah, how wrong you are!” And then I deliver this expertly crafted little speech about how the bifurcation of the concepts of work and play creates boredom and laziness. I say things about how you don’t feel bored when you’re doing what you’re interested in, and you learn from everything anyway, and you don’t put things off when you are passionate about them. And unschooled kids are passionate about things because they have time to be. And because they can follow their interests. And because they aren’t taught that learning is lame and separate from the rest of living.
It’s kind of a long speech, actually. And it might not be that expertly crafted after all. I wrote a post about these ideas here.
Self-motivation and homeschooling go hand-in-hand. As a kid, I always had a project of my own design that I couldn’t wait to get back to work on. In between all of the other things I was doing, I was always writing a book or working on a series of paintings or writing a choral piece or directing a play. This is not bragging. This is what kids do when they have freedom.
I don’t really remember the times I was bored or unmotivated as a kid. Maybe I’ve repressed them. Maybe they weren’t notable. Maybe there weren’t that many of them.
But now, when I catch myself feeling dull or uncreative or bored or lazy, I feel like I might be failing. Like I’m a bad grown unschooler. Like I should know better. I should approach every task with boundless energy, because I have learned how to learn from life! I should always know what to do next, because I should know myself so well.
Alas, it’s not always the case. I sometimes want to blame college, for teaching me boredom. I want to blame that period of time when I worked in an office for teaching me that work and play are separate. But I don’t blame either of these experiences. I blame myself. I feel as though I have let homeschooling down.
Sometimes I catch myself watching too much TV and I wonder why I want to. “Wouldn’t you rather work on a chapter of that book you’re supposed to be writing?” I ask myself.
“Nah,” myself responds. “I’m good. Do you have any snacks?”
For me, one of the challenges of adulthood is figuring out how to balance my newfound laziness with my old productivity. I have to remind myself that it’s OK to be lazy sometimes. I’m sure I had plenty of days where I didn’t get much done as a homeschooler, but they didn’t register in the same way, because I didn’t feel like I had to get things done all the time.
Now I do. Being grown up is all about getting stuff done. At least for me. And so when I find myself reading for four hours straight, or watching TV instead of getting other, more important, things done, I remind myself that it’s sometimes hard to know what is actually important. And really, guilt doesn’t help.
Sometimes even self-motivation needs to take a break. I’m still a pretty good grown unschooler. I ask some hard-hitting questions of society. I have a lot of self-confidence. I’m pursuing my dreams. And I almost never use a recipe when I cook
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Also, I was on a really fun panel for the Unplugged Mom’s anniversary showcase. We talked a lot about education. I want to be more specific, but the conversation was crazy and I can’t even remember. I got asked a math question. Laurette Lynn continues to be my hero. If you haven’t listened to her radio show or podcasts or read stuff on her site, you should give all that a try. Who knew she secretly had a Brooklyn accent??