We went camping with some other homeschoolers at a deep fast flowing river. We intended on swimming and took wetsuits, togs, boogie boards, life jackets etc.
There was a lot of Adult conversation about the safety of where to swim. This was based on depth, velocity of flow, etc and was tempered by our various different experiences of doing this kind of thing/or not as kids. This was totally mirrored in the children. I watched the two kids who didn’t mind their feet not touching the bottom discuss for 30 minutes depth, flow, kicking, direction (with lots of pointing) the best place to get across to the other side. They changed where they entered the water. They had a plan of where they would get out. It was well talked out. I was reminded of, usually men, standing and pointing, leaning on their spades at roadworks or holding clipboards and pointing…. it got to the point where I was thinking “get on with it already”. It turned out that one of the kids decided it was over their safety limit and Helena was forced to do it on her own. She probably wouldn’t have gone except that a bunch of people were coming down the river on inner tubes which gave her a time deadline to get across. On the other side, having got to where she meant in the endless discussion, realising she was alone she negotiated for me to dive in and meet her. Helena was so stoked she did this and even more stoked when she jumped in – lifejacket on. She followed a discussion of how pleased she was with a comment to me not to talk to her about jumping in without her life jacket as she would feel she’d missed out on something but she wasn’t ready yet and that she would tell me when she was ready. She liked jumping in with me.
The kids all made different decisions about what they would and wouldn’t do. Nathan Mikaere Wallis places his emphasis on the biological, the frontal lobe, and as these kids are only 9 they may or may not have it “on line” yet yet they all did a good job and made individual choices. I certainly feel my child’s emotional regulation is set to extreme reaction on occasion, especially when I give her information to make informed decisions, however her actual decisions, especially about her body, are fine and when things don’t work out it is ok. I think Teacher Tom makes an excellent point about this. If I was conducting an experiment I would want as few variables as possible, and if I was making claims I would be clear about my population. I wonder how many kids in the Dunedin study were homeschooled? Not that all homeschooling is based on children’s freedoms, and not all schooling has a lack of freedom. I am saying freedom as that is what makes us make thousands of infinitesimal decisions in our lives every day, makes us independent, as compared to endless instructions to follow. Perhaps decision making is muscle like.