I love some of the insights into my childrens’ minds, that are brought on by casual conversation! My thirteen year old son, who has never been to school, is the one most often surprising me at the moment, with his comments, questions, observations and insights. Here is a current example:
Last night, on his way to bed, he came out with something like this: “I think that in a few years we will probably have exhausted the capacity of the planet to house our population growth. It’s too soon to send people off to another planet to live, so we’ll have to come up with some other ideas.”
Because he doesn’t go to school, there was no pressure to hurry him along to bed so that he could get up on time to catch the bus or whatever, so we were able to pause and chat for a bit about some ways of dealing with the problem.
His initial thought was that perhaps every country should adopt a one or two-child policy, like China. We chatted about some of the possible negative ramifications of that, and I was surprised to discover that he was quite aware of some things that people have done to enable them to comply with the law but still have the sex of baby they want, etc. Thank you Google/social media for expanding my child’s mind!
His next idea was that perhaps all people should live in cities, with REALLY tall high rise units, rather than spread out in separate houses with “wasted land” between the dwellings. He said that if the apartment buildings were really really tall, they could fit lots of people in it, and the saved land could be used for farming. He also thought that roof top gardens and vertical gardens up the wall would make a lot of sense!
Then he came up with some interesting ideas about how to make the farmland more productive, to be able to grow more food for more people. He had an idea of stacked garden beds, with each layer divided into cubed sections, each alternate cube planted out and the next one open to allow sunlight to get to the garden bed below. Then he decided it would be great to have angled walls of mirrors around the gardens to deflect sunlight into the beds from the sides, to help things grow better.
Now I do realise that there are some holes in his ideas (not just in his garden bed design), but for a kid who says he “doesn’t like gardening” and who spends a major part of his daylight hours sitting at a gaming computer (NOT mindlessly, in case you haven’t noticed), I was quite impressed with the way he was thinking this type of situation through.
I don’t fear the future and I choose not to meditate on onerous tales of the doom that apparently awaits us all; I prefer to focus my energies on living as well as I can, learning what I can, and helping to create positive choice. My hope swells when I hear “young people” (yes, I realise that makes me sound like an old fogey) thinking laterally and coming up with creative solutions to current or projected problems. And I especially love it when those ideas aren’t given in response to a teacher-assigned school project, but are rather the workings of an imaginative, interested teenager, thinking things through just because it’s interesting, not because it’s on the test, or in the curriculum.
Whether our children and teens are at school, or homeschooled, or unschooled, our planet is in good hands while ever they are thinking like this. Sometimes it is the seemingly wackiest ideas (like stacked vegetable beds with holes in them and mirrors around the edge) that just might save the planet.
I love that unschooled kids aren’t afraid to push the envelope, to think outside the square, to express their thoughts and ideas without fear of being teased or ridiculed, because instead of having to put their hand up in the classroom, or submit an assignment that might not be what the teacher is looking for, they are free to be themselves, to explore crazy ideas, and entertain possibilities that the establishment might scoff at.
What surprising conversations have you had with your kids, that give an insight into the bigness of their thinking?