Earlier this summer I was in SanFrancisco for a couple of days. Alone. When I find myself in a new location, particularly if I've flown there, I experience an irrepressible desire to orient myself. And the best way for me to do that is to walk. It's hard for me to lose my way in a city that's laid out on something of a grid, but just to be sure, and to deal with diagonals and curves, I purchased a map. Then I put on my walking shoes, and lost myself in SanFrancisco.
To say that I lost myself is not the same as saying I was lost. I have a sense of direction. I was armed with a map. Having lived in a large city all my life, I also have a sense about places where I should not be. So although at any given moment I may not have been able to give you my exact coordinates, I was free from the deep unease of someone who has completely strayed off course.
If I had planned my very brief trip to SanFrancisco, I would have made sure I saw all the major tourist attractions. I would have done SanFrancisco. I would have seen all the things one is supposed to see when one visits. But I would not have seen the homeless lying prone along Market Street at 6 am as early morning commuters literally stepped over them; taken a tunnel from Union Square to find myself in another world as I emerged directly into Chinatown; watched a man dance with complete abandon for his morning exercise in front of St. Mary's cathedral or seen the Duboce Bike Mural, a spectacular tribute to a bicycle-centered urban life. I would not comprehend how the neighborhoods flow, change and merge into one another, and how people flow, change and merge among them.
I also would not have seen this bumper sticker:
Right about now, you're asking yourself what all this has to do with homeschooling (or maybe you're wondering how I was able to sneak away alone). Well, let me catch my breath from my reverie...
You know the saying "if you don't know where you're going, any road with get you there"? The implication is, of course, that we should always know where we're going. A civilized human being must be equipped with a mission statement, tangible yet audacious goals, realistic plans, and prioritized to-do lists.
But maybe there is value in traveling the unknown, unplanned road, just for the thrill of potential discovery. Or straying from the thoroughfare to look around the corner and see what we might find. Our kids don't have a life agenda. They don't "know where they're going". I'm not sure that this early in the game it's our job to point them in the right direction. Wandering and discovery are a part of childhood. They are part of education.
There really is no reason they shouldn't be part of our lives, too.