We are studying architecture this week. I can’t remember the last time both my kids studied the same thing at once. Well, I guess in the olden days, when they were 6 and 9 and played Minecraft all day, you could say they were studying the same thing. But it’s been a while.
My older son is studying the Protestant Reformation, and I got excited to show him how the emergence of oil paint coincided with the secular desire to paint non-church scenes in a very realistic way. My son got excited too, because he studies a lot of science and I show no interest. The homeschooling mantra about how learning is so nice as a family is true, but only realistic if I don’t have to do chemical equations.
My younger son is playing Bach. And his cello teacher told him that Bach wrote during the period of Gothic architecture. She said Gothic architecture is a repetition of the same shapes in slightly different ways, and Bach’s music is the same shape in many different ways.
I am a terrible cello mom when it comes to reading notes (it all goes back to math) and hearing what’s in tune (you might think you know what’s in tune, but it might be because you have’t watched a cello teacher talk about a single note on a single string with a single finger for fifteen minutes…. actually I probably didn’t really listen either.) But when the cello teacher talks about non-music stuff I am a genius.
So we started with castles (any topics works with boys if there’s blood and guts) and made our way from Gothic where the church dominated, to the Renaissance where the Medici family said to hell with the church and they built buildings in honor of themselves.
I am now certain that unschooling has been successful in instilling a belief in self-directed learning because both kids said they were totally not interested and if I like architecture so much I should study if myself.
I wanted to tell them that I can barely write blog posts for myself because I am so immersed in the stuff they want to do with their lives. But that would be passive aggressive and anyway, I probably do have time to accomplish stuff I want to, I am just choosing instead to torture my kids with my own interests.
“Architecture is politics,” I tell them.
“Because of Trump Towers?”
I pause. There must be a lesson here. “Well,” I say, “That’s one example. Yes. Trump used architecture to exhibit his own power in his community. Like the church with Gothic architecture.”
“And his golf courses.”
The kids hijack my lesson plan. But all learning is war, and I force a retreat.
I show them pictures I took in Houston. “Look you guys. The same company that builds prisons in Texas also builds the schools.”
They don’t believe me. Until they see the pictures. There are no windows.
“School is a prison,” my older son says.
My younger son goes to his cello. Plays four long open somber strings. He says, “This is what Bach’s music would sound like if he wrote music in Houston today.”
This is what a great, magical unschooling moment looks like with a highly engaged loving creative mom.
And it was so exhausting that I finally decided that today I’d rather be blogging.