Someone Else's Rock
We went on this fabulous 6-day camping trip last week to the John Day Fossil Beds with some friends. Other than it being hot, Really Hot, and dusty, Really Dusty (I didn't have a dirty clothes bag when I got home, I had a filthy clothes bag) and having to keep my poor ancient dog covered with cold wet towels so he didn't expire, we had a great time. We went to lots of sites where fossils have been found, on interpretive trails, and to the cool new museum/interpretive center/research center opened last year.
Along the way, my kids picked up rocks. Lots of rocks. This is nothing new. I've puffed uphill on my bicycle on my way home before, only to discover as I unloaded my panniers that I was carrying an extra 20 pounds or so of various stones from wherever we were exploring that day. This time, though, the rocks had a lesson for me about unschooling.
In one rock-hunting break, my son had picked up a lovely little lump of brown rock, which looked like nothing exciting to my unstudied eye. We added it to his collection in the car. Later, he had it out at the campsite, just turning it over in his hands. A woman camped across the way came over, and she had picked up some truly gorgeous agates on her hike that morning. She gave some to the kids. I was oohing and aahing over them, but my son just passed them on. I asked him why he didn't want to keep any of them, since they were so beautiful. His answer? "Because I didn't find them. The rocks I find are special to me and I remember where I found them and what makes them special. That rock might be special to her, but not to me because I didn't discover it."
And that's really it in a nutshell, isn't it? Learning that comes to us, that is discovered or uncovered or pursued by us, is meaningful. Learning that comes from outside, while perhaps more beautiful or impressive, is still just someone else's rock.