Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Taller Colibri and Unschooling

Thanks to a long-ago tip from my friend Hilair, I found the forums at the Mothering website and have been following and posting to the thread entitled:

What Did Your USer [unschooler] Do Today?

This practice has been informative, because I've found Taller Colibri's curriculum and daily rhythms have much in common with unschooling, but they also diverge. Some of the struggles homeschooling parents face regarding social issues and managing messes do not apply, because we have our own simple, little building in the countryside of Huayapam rather than running the school from our homes. The great benefit of this locale is the school site's outdoor options, including the property's small gardens and mud and sand pit, and then the area's trees, meadows, farms, and fields.

But it's the village's water sources that have provided endless fascination and experiments. Our group hikes to various spots on the river. The closest one goes under a stone bridge so picturesque that my husband painted it for a commission. There is an altar nearby, and the river is framed by carisso and banana plants.

Another access point has layers of dirt that make it like an archaeological dig site, with layers of old house tiles and broken dishes to discover. The banks have small indentations that make them prime spots for building cave dwellings for gnomes and fairies. But this area has become overgrown and the kids can't access it as easily.

The high river spot is a hike, but you get to cross a field frequented by burros. Here the river descends, making a small waterfall ideal for the children's temporary dams and bridges. They once used the mud and grasses here to mix with medicinal clay we got nearby and created strong, adobe-like bricks for constructions.

Lately the hikes have incorporated the reservoirs of Huayapam. The water level has stayed high, due to a longer rainy season, leaving lots of muddy shoreline to navigate. Sometimes the kids fish here, or pretend to fish, as they have yet to catch anything. They walk the banks and explore the micro-habitats formed by mud, sand, and water. Usually someone falls in for a swim.

I think I've landed on what makes for a successful school, in my mind: A curriculum that results in many changes of clothing, and dirty shoes.