Sunday, September 10, 2006

Once upon an Irish Morning...

Brew of the Day ~ Lemongrass

This week my family and I went to Southern Ireland. I’d been invited to speak at a Home Education conference on unschooling.

First we stayed with our lovely friends Siobhan and Alex (and children Joe and Rhiannon) in their mobile home. I walked into my dream. They live on a 3 acre field surrounded by trees ~ blissful privacy! My girls loved their compost loo as it reminded them of the outhouse in The Little House on the Prairie series.

Water is provided by a well. In the evening when all the kids were asleep, it was wonderful to chat with Siobhan and Alex by candlelight, with nothing but a sky full of stars as witness.

The following morning I managed to get in my ‘daily’ walk and it was brilliant. It was invigorating to walk in a completely different environment. The change of scene allowed me to be totally immersed in everything around me, instead of being swamped by the usual day to day thoughts and pressures. Every note of birdsong, the horses grazing, looking out over the bog fields ~ I absorbed it all.

I thought it always rained in Ireland?! Nothing but glorious warm sunshine for our visit. We had the pleasure of meeting Siobhan’s mum and to see where she grew up. I’d heard many times about their amazing (tiny) cottage where she grew up with all her siblings (I think there are 9 children in all). Her family learnt how to be self-sufficient on their 1 acre of land growing all their own vegetables and fruits. You know that wonderful feeling of making a meal from vegetables you’ve grown in your garden? We sat down to a sumptuous lunch full of garden produce. Beautiful! This is what life is about!!

We then travelled from County Meath to County Wicklow where the conference was held in stunning Glendalough. The B&B we stayed in the night before the conference was called Mountain View Lodge and was literally at the base of a mountain. Waking up to such a stunning view set me off emotionally as it reminded me of my childhood home (just trade pine trees for eucalyptus trees). And then the breakfast staff put on Irish music (like When you were sweet sixteen)… Pathetic blubbering mess I was for a wee while. God, I'm such a marshmallow!!! (er, minus the gelatine, that is)

I found it interesting to meet the Irish home-schoolers as they clearly share the same joys and pains as home-schoolers in probably most countries. Personally, it was most helpful to put my own experience about unschooling into words. We can easily take for granted our holistic and authentic parenting and lifestyle choices. I feel I've finally stamped into my consciousness how incredibly rich the path of unschooling is for our family.

Back home now to glorious sunshine (gonna be 22 degrees Celsius up here in Cumbria today! waheeeeeeeeeeeee ~ garden play time) and also preparing to mail out our next magazine.

I’d hoped to include my talk on Unschooling here today, but it seems as if Blogger might crash and die a painful death if I do!

Instead, I’ll leave you with the poem I read to open my talk. I have difficulty reading it out loud, without wobbling, as it really hits a chord with me. (Try reading out loud!!)

Have a fab week, Veronika…

As If We Had The Right
By Winnie Durdant-Hollamby

If we’re too afraid
To listen to the needs of the children,
How can they become whole
Or good enough parents themselves
When we have denied and denied
The validity of their needs Wholesale?

Isn’t it human rights abuse
On an unimaginable scale
When we say to our children:
“You’re not good enough as you are.
You need improving.
And furthermore, this is how…”

And then we send them away
From us – the ones they love
And trust most,
Send them to spend long days In loveless buildings
Where well-intentioned, overstretched grown-ups
Strive to implant this
Improvement Into them, whether willing or not?

“Best years of your lives!” And “It never did me any harm!”
But were they really – and Are you sure it didn’t?

If we really listen to the children
What do we think they will ask for
That is so terrifying?
Do we really think they want
Limitless sweets and ice cream, Computer games, rap cds, game shows,
And never, ever to get out of bed?

Is that what we fear?

Or do we suspect in our most secret hearts
That all they are asking for is our time?
That all they really need is our love?
Without conditions Or strings Or expectations?

Why, despite all we have had the chance to learn,
Do we still seek to make them like us?

As if we had the right.


Star Khechara said...

*waaaah* ok, I blubbed and I didn't even read it out loud!!! Mobile home on land, wow. Almost how I was living before I went to spain to live (er..and came back).
Ireland sounds lush :-)
xx star

Joanne B said...

We're thinking more about homeschooling,..yes there's nothing like home-grown food, we had fresh picked runner beans(lightly steamed),red pepper, yellow/red tomatoes, fresh herbs
and wild rice salad today, it was lush, and I'm only a beginner at this gardening business..and the children love it, it so much fun aswell, (even though some rabbits ate all my parsley,)

Mandy said...

Hey V ----I missed you in Ireland---I am gutted---Jane -Louise told me and it fell out of one of the many holes in my brain

Can i give you a call-love to catch up
love Mandy

Veronika said...

hi me your full phone number (incl. international code and area code) and i'll give you a call
would LOVE to catch up!!

Veronika said...
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rosehips said...
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