My husband Steve said to me the other night, “I feel more excited about playing guitar than I have in a long time.” Recently he dragged out his microphone and has been playing guitar and singing. It has been thrill for all of us!
Steve started playing guitar when he was 14 years old. He paid for his own lessons and bought all of his own equipment. When I met him, he was starting a music education degree. At that time, he was practicing four hours a day. We both completed our education degrees, but for Steve, he realized that although he loved playing guitar, he wasn’t cut out to be a public school teacher. So, he took some time off from college to work and play in a band until he returned to college to receive a degree in computer science.
Guitar has always been Steve’s passion. Time will go by and he will do absolutely nothing with it and then it will be all he can think of. He will take lessons, give lessons, play in a band or just sit in our family room playing for self enjoyment.
When Steve said, “I feel more excited about playing guitar than I have in a long time”, I replied back with, “This is exactly how it is for unschoolers.” As unschoolers or a term I have been using more often, “life learners”, our children may dive into something which consumes their every waking moment and then all of the sudden it appears they are finished with it. We may worry that they haven’t completed the class we paid for or we think “what a waste that all of that time was spent and now they have no more interest”. Or, we worry that if they don’t continue learning more about the subject, they will forget everything they have learned. However, just like Steve’s guitar playing, we need time to take breaks. Sometimes the breaks lead us to become stronger in our passions and sometimes we just realize that it wasn’t a passion, but something that helped us to our next path in life. Steve has never found that he lost anything he had learned due to taking breaks, but instead feels more intense each time. By not having any rules put upon him as to when or how to play guitar, he is able to use it as it works best for him.
As unschoolers we sometimes talk about how our children’s interests can lead them to many other important life skills. I can only imagine the other life skills that have created learning situations for Steve by playing guitar – public speaking, money management (guitar equipment is not cheap), reading music, organization, discipline, time management, and more.
What I love about allowing our children to be life learners rather than “forced” learners is that they tend to choose the path that was meant for them. They choose interests that are personal to them. This leads them to life skills that will be appropriate for the paths in life which they were meant to take rather than a path that was designed by others and doesn’t make sense to who they are.
Will Steve ever make guitar his profession? Well, in a perfect world, yes! For now, it provides him some extra money when he wants it, but mostly it keeps him grounded in who he is as a person when the rest of the work world sometimes tries to take that away!