I love listening to the TED talks of Sir Ken Robinson.  In his TED talk entitled “Bring on the learning revolution!” he said something that really struck me, something that came as a timely reminder for me as I plan for another homeschooling year ahead.

Sir Ken Robinson said, “…life is not linear; it’s organic.”

“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”

I’m in the middle of preparing for another homeschooling year with my two children. My teenage daughter is going to start high school lessons, and I’ve been struggling to find a balance between fulfilling the high school requirements of our homeschool provider and helping her find and pursue her talents, passions and dreams. I personally would prefer a relaxed, interest-led way of learning, but I am nagged by my fear of not doing enough. Not enough for her to move up to the next grade level. Not enough for her to be well prepared for college. Not enough for her to establish a good career.

Thanks to Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, I am reminded that learning is organic, not linear. I want my children to develop a love of learning, and that happens when learning is natural. When it is allowed to flow from the learner’s interests and passions, and with his talents and strengths.

While we still establish guidelines and follow requirements for our homeschooling (including the labels of grade levels and subjects), these should not be more important than my children’s organic process of growing and learning. My job is to create the conditions under which they will thrive and grow into their best selves.  To let them make less timelines and draw more circles. To let them learn teamwork in a football field. To let them make a social science project in Minecraft. To do experiments, make art, play board games with them. To let them make mistakes and be there if and when they need me. To be excited with them when they are excited.

After all, homeschooling is a part of our family life.  If our family life is organic, why can’t our learning be organic too?