The word explore became one of my favorite words when I started taking up early childhood education. To explore may mean a lot of things.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists a number of definitions applicable in different contexts. Here are just some:
- to look at (something) in a careful way to learn more about it : to study or analyze (something)
- to talk or think about (something) in a thoughtful and detailed way
- to learn about (something) by trying it
- to investigate, study, or analyze
- to become familiar with by testing or experimenting
- to travel over (new territory) for adventure or discovery
- to examine especially for diagnostic purposes
In one of the classes I attended, my favorite professor often used this term whenever we discussed about young children trying new experiences or new materials. What was really interesting was that after explaining the theories, she allowed us to explore various materials and movements so that we could experience them first-hand before applying them in class. When she asked the class to do an activity where everyone would simply follow what she did, it seemed easier for everyone. But when she did the next activity where everyone could create something out of some materials, with some guidelines, we admitted that we were a bit taken aback – some of us were afraid to make a mistake or something ‘less’ creative. There was this desire to conform – to be just like the others – because it was ‘safe’. At the same time, there was that anticipation to do something out of the ordinary. From our group reflections, these were most of the feelings shared after the activity. Throughout this period, we realized that these responses were rooted from unpleasant experiences in the past, particularly during childhood – experiences (usually with adults) that made us feel and believe that we were ‘not that creative’ or ‘not creative at all‘. But the positive way she addressed our ‘issues’ and the kind and genuine way she acknowledged the things that we did made a special mark.
What did I learn from the experience? That there is creativity in each one of us. But to let this creativity come out and flourish, one must be given the time and opportunity to explore, to get to know something through experience, to do something that may sometimes or often be different from what others do, in order to grow in knowledge, understanding and skill. This may mean making mistakes along the way. This also requires supportive and encouraging adults to guide young explorers or learners.
I am thinking though of exploration, still within the context of morality, if by chance, I get misunderstood. Exploring things that are pure, good and pleasing to God, for His Glory – is necessary. For without God, there is no real freedom.
We began our exploration of homeschooling four years ago. Though I used to be a teacher, I was humbled by the realization that teaching in class is quite different from homeschooling. There are similarities in principles – but not exactly the same. Homeschooling is far from easy. There are different struggles and much bigger responsibilities – not just in teaching academics, but most importantly in modeling good character to your children.
About this same time last year, there was this mom who tearfully shared something like this, “As I was homeschooling my children, I realized that God was also homeschooling ME.” And it is SO true! Initially, my goal was simply to teach my children, to hope and pray that they would learn. But eventually, it dawned on me that God made us go through this so that we could start looking into ourselves and our own character, to examine our minds, hearts and souls – as parents, as God’s Children. In other words, God wanted to teach us too!
Oh, there was so much dirt to begin with – so there was gradual and painful change of mindset, habits, beliefs. But as St. Paul says, the Grace of God is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). We are all God’s work in progress. And what we cannot do due to our human limitations, if we are willing and if we work hard, then God’s Grace will accomplish the rest in His Perfect Time.
As to whether it is better to homeschool or not, is not really the question. Until now, we remain open to traveling either of these two roads. The important thing, I believe, is to listen, to discern and to follow where He leads us to go. If we are where God wants us at the moment, then there’s freedom. If we do what God wants us to do at the moment, then there’s freedom. Yes, there are crosses on the road to Christ but there is joy; there is love; there is peace.
Explore. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explore
Goleman, D. & Kaufman, P. (1992, March 01). The Art of Creativity. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: http//www.psychologytoday.com/