12 January 2011

Recently, I wrote about my thoughts on my career path and whether an online program to pursue midwifery was in the cards for me. Long story short, I rolled the idea around in my brain for a few weeks and came to the realization that the program was too time-intensive for what I'm able to take on right now.

Not long after I made this decision, a conversation with my friend about the upcoming changes for writing the IBCLC exam got me wondering if becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) was perhaps a more fitting area of continuing my education. Currently, with my four years of experience being a La Leche League Leader, my only additional requirement before qualifying to write the exam is to complete 45 education hours. The time investment is relatively minimal in comparison to the midwifery program and it's more central to my current skill set.

I've registered for some online classes through Health-E Learnings and as I've been chipping away at the hours I've realized two things.

Firstly, becoming an IBCLC is definitely the right path for me. The more I learn about breastmilk composition and the mechanics of breastfeeding, the more passionate I become about sharing this information with mothers to help them avoid and overcome breastfeeding difficulties. We've had so many moms come to LLL looking for help with issues that range from simple and easy to complex and heart-breaking, and I feel like this added depth of knowledge gives me so much more of an ability to help. Even if I never seriously pursue paid IBCLC work, the value through my LLL work will make all this a worthwhile pursuit.

Secondly, learning new things has helped me to further appreciate unschooling. Since learning about and encompassing this educational style for our children, this is the first formal education I've participated in and it has truly reaffirmed my belief in unschooling.

The two goals in front of me are to complete my education hours and to prepare myself for writing the IBCLC exam. Because these are my own goals that I have set, I'm extremely motivated to meet them. When I'm nursing Olivia down for naps or at bedtime, I read my course material on the iPad. When the kids have gone to bed at night I pore over more material before I go to bed. I usually have one afternoon nap each week where the big kids are at my mom's and I happily dedicate my only alone time to afternoon reading (which, I've discovered, is worth double time since I'm actually fully awake and able to concentrate properly). With a big enticing goal set out in front of me, I'm very willing to make reading a priority.

I'm excited about the things I'm learning. I see the practical application of my new knowledge and I can't wait to share it. Two of my three textbooks just arrived and I've spent some time browsing through them (and maybe hugging and sniffing them if I need to be brutally honest here). I'll be reading through Breastfeeding and Human Lactation along with the study guide on my own, a much different experience from the times I've done textbook work for marks in past classes.

I've had the opportunity to further explore my learning style and how to best understand new information. I was really struggling with a section in a course where I had to learn the components of breastmilk along with their functions and fluctuations. I realized that I couldn't "see" the concept and so I spent a few hours taking notes and drawing out a breastmilk composition flow chart. It added significantly to the time it took me to complete that course, and I didn't need to do it in order to get credit for the hours, but it's the activity that helped to firmly plant that information in my brain.

My oh so pretty flow chart on our kitchen wall.

Reflecting on this has me looking at optional education as compared to mandatory education, and what type of experience I want my children to have.

I want for my kids to find things they're passionate about and to dive into them. I want them to feel driven to pursue education and skills because they believe that these things are vital to their personal development. I don't want education to be something my kids "have" to take part in without any understanding of how it will have a practical implication in their lives. I want them to be excited about the incredible things they can learn, and the way they can impact the world around them with these new abilities.

I thought that unschooling was simply an educational approach for my children but instead it has turned into a lens through which I view the world we live in. And so, the experience of unschooling my children has become an experience of unschooling myself as well.


Anonymous said...

Me too - I am loving this process and yet it totally reinforces for me that what we are doing (or not doing) as it may be for school for the kids. I love that it is just their life. Yet doesn't it give you hope that we went through public school that some of the kids who are there now will perhaps be able to find their own 'unschooling' one day too :)
xoxo Leah

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