1. As someone who could happily be a career student but was very much a book learner growing up, it’s taken me awhile to fully embrace the idea that learning can happen anywhere at any time and is not just limited to a classroom. Was this something you had to learn, or has curiosity and exploration always been a part of your life?
I was a good student and enjoyed book learning when I was young, as well. I think my first epiphany came during my junior year of high school when my mom and I mutually decided to try homeschooling. It was a fantastic experience, and I realized several things. First, it felt empowering to own my education. Second, I enjoyed learning more when I was personally invested. Third, learning could happen outside of an institution. And last but certainly not least, I was capable of using my time much more efficiently than when I was in a traditional school setting. Homeschooling doesn’t work for every student or every family, but it certainly enabled me to embrace the idea that learning is exciting and it should permeate the whole of my life, not just happen to me while I was in school.
2. How do you think your children have and will benefit from your approach to life as a lifelong learner?
I am a book learner, so that is the most noticeable benefit in our home. Every surface is covered in books of all sorts. We have picture books. We have chapter books. We have fables and fairy tales. We have books about science, art, math, music, history, geography, and Latin. The payoff is that I have three boys who are voracious readers. And because we are constantly reading about fascinating people and ideas and stories, we have a deep well of conversation topics to work from. My boys love to talk as much as they love to read.
Although all of my boys love to read and talk, they have distinct personalities when it comes to their learning. My oldest is an imaginative learner; he thinks in stories. My middle son is a hands-on learner; his ideas are made manifest in projects and experiments. My youngest son is a concrete learner; he loves facts and trivia. I’m so curious to discover my daughter’s learning style as she gets older. But in our home there is freedom to explore and learn in ways that best suit each child.
The most important thing I hope they learn, however, is that curiosity is what makes life rich and exciting. It doesn’t matter how much money or things one has, learning is available to everyone.
3. What does your bucket list of things you’d like to learn look like? Do you think you’ll ever learn all that you want to learn?
I will never, ever make progress on my to-read book list. Each week I add more than I finish! But I’ll keep trying. I would especially like to read and learn more about classical literature.
I’ve always wanted to speak another language fluently. I have minimal background in Spanish, French, and Latin, so it is my plan to become more fluent in each of those.
Geography is another subject I enjoy, and I’d love to learn more as well as do some traveling.
Photography is my favorite hobby, and I am in dire need of more technical skills. Calligraphy is another creative skill I’d love to master.
I’d love to learn some active skills such as tennis, kayaking, and Krav Maga.
I hope to step outside my comfort zone and develop my public speaking skills. Maybe someday I’ll learn more about the process of writing a book.
If I were to learn how to play another musical instrument, it would be the cello.
The possibilities are endless, and I can’t imagine ever getting to a point in my life where I feel I’ve learned everything I want to learn.
4. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever spent time learning?
Several years ago I took classes in black and white photography, tennis, American Sign Language, and French, but I’d have to say that sentence diagramming is one of my more obscure interests. I’ve spent many hours learning and practicing the skill. It’s a tremendously satisfying blend of English grammar, art, and puzzle solving.
5. You’re a busy homeschooling mom of four. How do you make time for learning in the midst of school work and chores and family events?
Homeschooling is a busy lifestyle, but it comes with a serious benefit: I get to learn along with my children. That’s what we do all day. Sometimes we’re learning together as I read aloud or help a child work through math problems. Sometimes we’re learning next to each other, but each working on our own projects. I’ve also eliminated much of the “busy work” of schooling.
I purposefully avoid overscheduling. There are endless worthy activities, but down time is imperative for me as an introvert. And I’ve realized that a messy house isn’t the end of the world. It just means that people I love are actively living here.
We also take books everywhere we go. It’s astounding how often we have minutes here and there of waiting, whether at the gas station or at the dentist office.
6. And finally, this is so cliché, but if you were stranded on a desert island with only three things, what would you want them to be?
How long will I be there and is someone else providing the survival gear? And a Bible?
I’ll take a knife, my camera, and the complete works of Shakespeare. A knife to help protect and feed my physical body, my camera to feed my creative instincts (can we just pretend that I have an endless battery and memory card?), and Shakespeare to feed my mind with poetry, histories, tragedies, and comedies. I figure being stranded on an island is the only way I’ll read all of Shakespeare. If I get to the end, I can start memorizing passages.
Seriously though, I can’t imagine being stranded on an island without my camera. Taking pictures is how I fully enter into an experience. It enhances my ability to focus on details or see the big picture, edit out the unnecessary, and perceive beauty and structure even in times of pain or chaos.