Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Rebooting the world, rethinking education

Last night Mr. Fixit and I dropped Lydia at her drama class and took a bunch of stuff back to the library.  I took out a couple of $5 Dinner books, Susan Branch's Autumn, and Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History.  Mr. Fixit borrowed some DVDs, including the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise, the series that started (oddly enough) almost exactly ten years ago.  Later in the evening we watched the season-opening double episode, in which crew members from 2154, who don't really know how to time-travel yet, nevertheless find themselves on Earth in 1944, in the middle of an alternative-timestream World War II, which was caused by something called the Temporal Cold War.  In this version of history, Hitler's army has taken over New York City, and there are also a bunch of strange-looking, red-eyed people...or something...wearing S.S.-type uniforms and making deals with the Nazis.  And there's this other guy, Silik, who's been sort of genetically modified  He can appear to be other people, crawl across ceilings, squeeze himself through letter slots and things like that, and he's an enemy, except that he ends up helping Scott Bakula fight the red-eyed guys.  Not to spoil the whole thing, but as you can figure, the mission (after lots of Earth-style gunfire and Trek-style futuristic weapons) is eventually successful; as the bad guys crawl into their time tunnel, the place blows up and that's all, folks.  Then, and this is what put Mr. Fixit on the edge of his seat, Scott Bakula / Captain Archer talks to this guy who's sort of a guardian of time, the one who sent them on this job in the first place.  Captain Archer isn't real impressed at the amount of upheaval and bloodshed they caused in their efforts to put the world straight, but apparently it was all worth it, and then you see all the scenes of history rebooting themselves.  The past and the future are all back where and how they should be.

Mr. Fixit thought it was a very Doctor-Who type episode, and had it stuck in his head the rest of the night.  When I said I was looking for a blog post idea, he suggested I write about what we were doing ten years ago.  I said no, that wasn't a good fall (don't search the archives, it was before we were blogging).  Then he said I should imagine that we had lived in an alternative timestream and not homeschooled for the last two decades; where would we be and what would the girls have been doing?  I said no, I couldn't possibly imagine that and he could write it himself if he wanted to.

But just before bed, I was reading a bit of Thinkertoys, a library book about creative thinking.  (It gets mixed reviews--either that it's the worst of MBA slash pop psychology, or that it's the best thing ever for opening up new possibilities  Probably somewhere in between.) Thinkertoys is, mainly, about thinking in alternatives. Choose the unexpected, combine ideas, reverse the usual, modify or find new purposes for the existing version, ask different questions.

And it came into my head that homeschooling itself, especially the way we have come to consider homeschooling, is an exercise in alternative thinking. Maybe a reboot too...or some have called it a paradigm shift. It has much less to do with the small idea that it happens at home, than the big idea that education, the science of relations, can happen in a lot of different ways. Homeschooling parents, by default, have to enter a sort of different timestream where we ourselves are altered.

Homeschooling parents have to be, in many ways, space explorers. Many times we don't feel as confident, as clever, or as thoroughly Trekkie as the Captain Kirk crew; we're more like the early 2150 Enterprisers. kind of mucking around in space, breaking boundaries but making mistakes; encountering things we've never seen before. But we have learned to ask questions. And we learn that human beings...um, and Vulcans, and Denobians...are, well, human. Even if they eat leeches.

"If you're going to try to embrace new worlds, you must try to embrace new ideas."--Dr. Phlox, Star Trek: Enterprise

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