Thursday, January 26, 2012

Typical Day

People often ask what a typical unschooling day looks like.

Of course, there is no such thing. We have some patterns to our days, and some things we do on a schedule. Some days might feel more "typical," and others more unusual.

Like earlier this week, when I got a phone call offering me a free car.
NOT typical.

The only way to really describe what is typical here is to say that we all do things, and we do some of them together, and some of them separately, and most of the time, we're all doing more than one thing at a time.

Like today.
Lots of together for some of us, lots of separate, and definitely more than one thing at a time.

I spent part of the morning doing some research online. Part of it reading, part writing, and part catching up on things.
In the afternoon, my daughter assisted me in giving a longsword demo to a group of 19 middle school kids, as part of their library-based book group. Yeah. Coolest job in the world.

On the drive there we discussed her upcoming plans to attend a dance weekend, and also her possible plans for some travel and learning experiences this summer. She's trying to balance several different interests, and figure out how she can best do that.

Also on the way there, we got a good idea for what to make for dinner, so we stopped at the store on the way home to get the ingredients. Then we had to go take all the swords back where they belong, since I don't want to keep them in the car, AND they need to be there in the morning so we can take them to do some demonstrations at the classes that start then. They won't do us much good if they end up in my car at the shop.

I washed dishes while everyone came in and out, doing their own things. We asked and answered questions about the day today, and about plans for tomorrow. I needed to write up some notes for tax purposes.

I peeled potatoes while watching a taped TV show, a pilot episode for a new show we didn't know much about. Turns out it has some math stuff in it that included the very same topic that we had had a discussion about this morning- down to including information about the fibonacci sequence on pineapples (thanks Vi Hart!). This was particularly interesting because the show also partly was about odd coincidences, so this led to a discussion of other coincidences of the day, of which there were several. We decided we like the show, for now.

I cooked dinner during the end of the new show, and then during the first part of watching an episode of a TV show we taped the other night, that I had already seen. I wanted to see the other people's reactions to it, so I listened in.

We had a discussion about who thought what was going on, and who thought who was the "bad guy" and why they thought that, as the show developed. After it was over, we talked about some of the clues in the show, and how this show has a typical pattern which tends to give away the ending.

Throughout this, the fourth other person in the house came in and out several times. He doesn't care for that TV show, so doesn't watch it with the rest of us. He ate dinner on his own, while the rest of us ate while watching the end of the show. We could hear his music upstairs, as usual. After dinner, I went to talk with him, and catch up on things, since he hadn't been in on much of the earlier conversation.

During most of the show, I was also working on preparation for tomorrow's new classes I'm teaching. Thirty new students, and I needed to rewrite the pre-test we give on the first day. I had been thinking about testing since writing that post the other day, and wanted to make some improvements to the test. In order to do this, I had a running e-mail conversation going with my mentor.

While printing out the tests, I was also working on the attendance lists, and the software I use to create them crashed repeatedly. I spent about half an hour figuring out why and getting it back running again.

Starting in the middle of the TV show, and running through the test rewriting and printing, a friend was texting me, trying to convince me to take a class with her because at the first session this evening, only three people had shown up, and they won't run the class unless they have at least six. It's a class I've been considering, but had planned to wait until next year to take. But now... I'm not so sure. It might be better to go ahead and take it now, but I'm waffling.

I've discussed it with the one kid who has been the most frustrated lately with my schedule not meshing with his very well. He's a good listener, and was helpful in sorting some of the issue out, but I still haven't decided what to do about taking the class. I have a few days to decide. It's a big time commitment, but might lead to a financial improvement, so... I still don't know. I need to look at the overall balance for the whole family. I haven't talked to the other two yet, but they are more likely to think I should take the class, since it is something they are interested in as well. Also, one of them is more or less on his own most of the time now, with a job and a girlfriend, so he doesn't care whether I'm around, most of the time, since he isn't, either.

I was supposed to do some laundry, but have run out of time. I have to be up early tomorrow because we have to shuffle cars around, with one of ours down for the count and the other having to go to the shop in the morning. Figuring that out was also interwoven throughout the evening, because the Grand Shuffle will end up involving six people and four cars. Plus, I just found out I'll have to leave here earlier than I wanted. Time to find a book to take with me in the morning so I will have something to read while I wait for a while at one point.

Finally got back to the web research- it was for another one of my blogs, and I wrote up a quick, not very satisfying post, and will have to get back to it later.

It has quieted down considerably, with everyone back to doing their own things now. Out of the five people here, I think two have gone to bed, I'm about to, and the other two will likely be up for hours. One will probably still be awake when I get up in the morning, and will end his day about when I start mine.  It makes us a great home for puppies- almost always someone home and awake. No puppies these days, though. Probably a good thing. Keeping the kittens out of the dog food is challenge enough.

Tomorrow will be a long day, what with new classes starting, getting up and out earlier than usual, teaching most of the day, then figuring out how to get my car back, how to pay for the repairs(!), another class in the evening (that I participate in as well as co-teach) and then contra dancing in the evening. Probably won't stop moving from about 9am to 11pm.  Not a lot of time in there for hanging out with kids, so we'll keep in touch through texting except for about an hour and a half in the middle when I might get to be home for dinner. Friday is by far my longest day, most of the time. I often tell people Friday is my Monday, but since I love what I do, it isn't like working all day is a bad thing!

Since I was on the go a lot of today, and will be even more so all day tomorrow, it is almost inevitable that we'll get an emergency call in the middle of the night tonight. That's when we usually get them- when we're already over-extended for some reason. Let's hope everyone stays home, safe and well tonight.

Our days are pretty much like this, give or take. We don't always do the same things, but everything is intertwined with conversations in various groupings, about what were doing at the moment, what we've been doing before, and what we plan to do next. With the addition of the girlfriend being here a lot these days, the dynamics have changed somewhat. This is also a very busy time of year for me, with the new semester starting, and quite a change from the atmosphere of the past several weeks. Things will settle down after the first week of classes.

Yes, I recognize the irony of being unschoolers and also being a teacher. I'll probably write about how that came to be at some point. For now, for anyone reading this who doesn't know me and what I do, I'll just say I don't teach in or for a school. I teach something that can't easily be learned without a highly skilled teacher. You could, maybe, learn some of it, but even that would take a very long time to learn on your own, and some of it you really can't, since it requires interaction with another person, and very specific feedback. I don't know of anything else that works quite the same way, and that's probably a large part of the attraction for me. The ideal situation for this is a master/apprentice, but very, very few people can actually fully apprentice these days, so it ends up being classes and lessons, rather than a full time learning experience.

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