I recently read a book I picked up for $3.00 at a library book sale titled: My Fair Lazy, A Memoir by Jen Lancaster. The premise of this book gave me the misguided impression that this was "chick-lit". The author was having an interview with Candace Bushnell and was the topic of Baudelaire came up. She had no idea what or who Baudelaire was or is (it is a he actually, a French poet, but I had to google it to make sure). This leads her to question her life of writing and consuming massive doses of reality television while caring for her menagerie of pets and trying to rid her home of pesky vermin.
Wanting to be able to participate in social settings and discuss more than pop culture, Jen enlists the help of her friends to give herself a cultural makeover. I found her references to movies such as Clueless, the debut episode of MTV’s Real World, and Gossip Girl (all well known to me!) completely endearing. I think that Jen is someone whom I would love to talk to in real life but I will have to settle for a good read instead.
- She reads poetry until she finds poets that she adores.
- She attends the theater until she is fluent in the different styles of theater.
- She visits practically every ethnic restaurant in Chicago.
- She takes a wine and cheese tasting class with her husband.
- She reads literature (which she finds is the original inspiration for much of Gossip Girl).
She discovers that she can remain true to her couch loving, reality show watching, snarky commenting self while expanding the definition of her “self”. As I read this book I could not help but make comparisons to the type of education I am trying to provide for Grace and Lilah.
Jen home educated herself, with the help of her friends, while having a very good time. I am educating my girls, with the help of many friends, while having a good time.
We are reading poetry, copying poetry, memorizing poetry. The girls know who Langston Hughes is as well as Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein. They have been to children’s theater performances at Fairfield University, Broadway musicals and concerts at Yale. They know several major composers and artists. They know that they love the Impressionists but do not love British and early American works of art. They are beginning to branch out with their food choices, trying Indian and Chinese as well as Mexican and Polish. They have read books ranging from biographies to fantasy, to realistic fiction. They recommend books to friends and receive recommendations in return. Oh my gosh.....they are educating themselves!
In the process I am also expanding my horizons. Education is never stagnant. It does not take a break in June for the summer or take three vacations a year. It does not end when you graduate. In fact, it has been my experience that this is when education really begins. When I was studying karate, my instructor told me that the real study of karate begins with a black belt, for this is when you can apply everything you have learned and put it together in new and interesting ways. I never made it to black belt, but I knew that what I was learning was just the foundation for what was to come. I feel this is the same with the learning we do up to grade 12. It is the foundation for what we will go on to learn once we have covered the basics.
I had no idea twenty years ago that I would want to learn about gardening, organic food, worm composting, homemade cosmetics and beauty products, and that the majority of my reading would be for information rather than just for pleasure. Who knew?
Jen turned her experience into a memoir. I have turned ours into a blog. I love that my girls will one day understand that their education was unique and created just for them. They are getting the basics on which to build their lifelong relationship with education. All these books, poems, movies, performances, and culinary experiences are the building blocks. Whether they decide to build a castle, a cottage, or a yurt is up to them, the ultimate owners of their educational experience.