Sunday, October 17, 2010

Still thinking about Autonomous Education!

I need a motivational self-talk just now, and what better way to re-energise myself (other than some balmy runs in the country, and some lovely friends), than to think about the theories of AE! This set of theories means the most to me in the whole wide world. They are beautiful in the way that the writings of great physicists are. They makes sense. They hang together, they fit the data, and they work and at times like this, when I could be so sad, it is my greatest consolation.

Elsewhere, (guess where, folks!), my attention has been drawn to the problem of knowing just exactly when one is coercing one's child and when one isn't. I mean, this can actually be a difficult problem, I think.

Take a child whose parent has offered an over-arching theory which makes sense to the child, but which results in the child adopting plenty of self-coercive theories in order to fulfill the over-arching theory with which she agrees. The parent doesn't have to do the coercion as the child will be doing it for themselves, so to speak.

Of course, this isn't AE, if one takes the definition of AE to be that a person is enacting the theory that is active in the mind (as opposed to being forced, or in this case, forcing themselves) to enact a theory that is not is coerced. Setting an over-arching plan for the child, and leaving the child to do the rest: this is not AE, but a slow absconding with the being of another person.

How can one prevent such a scenario one wonders? Well, am not sure that the following suggestions are 100% reliable, but the parent can't do much more than to stick to these principles:

(Please don't think am being horribly preachy just here. This is really for me, a reminder and a pep talk., so to myself, I say....)
  • I won't have an over-arching plan for the children in my life
  • I'll make sure the theories I offer really are tentative...if they are good, the children will grok this
  • I'll be prepared to change my preferences
  • I'll help the child solve his problems so that he isn't subject to subtle self-coercion along the way, even if it is to fulfill his grand plan. (Coercion is never useful).
  • And of course, we'll seek common preferences...we'll go wild, be creative, seek other solutions we never dreamt possible.
How to tell if this is panning out? If my children can happily tell you they have lost interest in something, (frick, do they do this!) then I do probably have it right!


Big mamma frog said...

This is great, except when your children tell you they've lost interest in something you've just paid £80 in advance for a course of(usually the thing they were soo sooo keen to do only a week ago). lol. At times like that I find it hard to get the balance between commitment (also known in our house as 'seeing things through') and coercion... :)

Carlotta said...

That is a total eeek, Mamma Frog. The one bad time this happened to us, I went into "well at least I'm cutting my losses" sort of mode. I might have paid whatever it was...I think it WAS £80, but at least I'm not paying the petrol money to hack over to the class. Helped a bit!

shepherdlass said...

Hmm, yes, and then there's the morning when the child doesn't feel that much like getting up and decides it's because they've lost interest in the regular activity that they intended to do that day ... But the following week, they're desperate to get back to said activity. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the things that are genuinely palling and those that are just not appealing at that particular moment.

So far, I suppose, even though I've no problem at all with her staying away when she feels like it, I've just asked J to wait for a few weeks before deciding whether she really wants to drop the activity altogether ... Even that feels like subtle coercion, though! (Does she think I'll be disappointed if she gives up?, etc, etc). Tricky thing, this autonomy, isn't it? ;-)

shepherdlass said...

Good to see you back to blogging, by the way! x

Carlotta said...

Thanks, Shepherdlass..I do miss it, but since starting part time work as well as HEing...that was the killer blow! (though actually really love the work too!)

Carlotta said...

"Tricky thing, this autonomy, isn't it? ;-)"

Really is and v. difficult for parent to change preference too sometimes, though I do find that having this concept in forefront of mind when these things happen, really really helpful!

I have found though that the children's intuitions are mostly accurate...whether this is post-rationalisation am not sure...but so far, don't think there is anything that either of the children have decided, sometimes apparently hastily, (though often actually not!) that they really regret! They always come up with sound reasons for their decisions too, which is reassuring!