Strewing Works Both Ways

Deb Rossing, 2005

Strewing...hmm first thing that comes to mind is it's a little maybe "Zen"like. If you are consciously thinking "I'm strewing" then you're still learning to 'strew'. Over time it becomes part of your life rather than a conscious thought of "I need to strew something". I went to the bookstore and saw a Fantastic Four comic book. I didn't think "Oh I'll strew this for DS - reading, art/graphics, yadda yadda" but rather "Hey DS would like this" so I got it. Likewise, DH built a mini-motor yesterday - some wire coils and a 9 volt battery. As he worked, he and DS talked about the parts - the field coil, the armature coil (see I learned stuff too! lol), etc. It wasn't a 'science lesson' or anything - it was something *DH* chose to do and enjoys playing with and for as long as DS was interested, they talked about it. It's totally DH's interest but he invites DS along for as long as he chooses to hang out and see what happens.

So part of strewing is also being curious and interested in things for your own self. DS has come to really like smooth jazz. Not from 'music appreciation' anything but because we like it and it's around us. In a 'strewing' vein, when DS seemed to enjoy certain classical pieces, we picked up the Beethoven's Wig CDs - note the interest came first in this case (sometimes interest comes first, other times we bring something that generates interest).

Didja ever see Coming to America with Eddie Murphy? Strewing is like the rose petals the young ladies are tasked with tossing before the Prince. They don't know where he will go next specifically. They know his usual routines and patterns, where he generally goes. They keep a close eye on his non-verbal communication as well as listening to his conversations (discretely of course lol). All this together gives them some idea of where to toss the next handful of petals - unless he changes direction suddenly, in which case they regroup and get back in strewing position again.

So, we watch DS (not hawklike but living together like), we listen, we talk, we explore together.

The other day I noted to DH that DS seems to currently be interested in how things are spelled (he was asking me how to spell lots of things) and also seems to be 'consolidating' numbers (adding, subtracting) because he's been telling me number related things that he's figured or noticed (he had 2 of something in a game and needed 8 so he told me he needed 6 more). By communicating my observations to DH and he to me, we can keep both sets of eyes out for things that might interest DS and then we can bring those things into his orbit - some might fly right by and others will be captured in his gravitational sphere.

Another way to think about it, perhaps, is similar to when you are dating and newlywed - you keep your eyes out for things you know your partner would like - a favorite author, a musician, a particular food or type of food (DH bookmarked the Godiva website!), etc. and when you find something you think might be of interest, you bring it home or bring your partner to it (depending on what it is). That particular item might be wonderful, it might not be (your Tex- Mex spice loving partner might find Thai cuisine a bit too differently spiced for instance). You don't keep going back there until your partner "learns to like it" - you drop it and move on. And maybe in a couple of years your partner will say Hey what was that Thai place? I think I'd like to try that again. Or maybe not.

Strewing has no strings attached. Kind of like those cartoon rabbit/roadrunner/whatever traps with the box and string, some people think strewing is putting out some tempting 'bait' to "get" their kids to learn something. The problem with that is it takes almost no time for the kids to become suspicious of all 'bait', even things they might like, because of the string attached. Strewing is stringless - bringing in things you think might bring joy into the household and then letting them take on their own life, wherever that leads. DH's current playing with wires and batteries and magnets? That started when he began building his own light saber out of copper pipe, wiring, flashlight innards, etc. His interests and curiousity have brought things into our home that I wouldn't have considered but now think nothing of having - they're just part of us. Likewise, there are probably things I bring to the table. And DS brings his own things as well (it goes in all directions, not just adults to kids).


(Deb Rossing, on the Unschooling Basics list, August 2005)

More strewing


Creating an Unschooling Nest