Polished Pillar of Expertise

Is this how the professionals do it?

While stumbling through a complex Calculus concept involving parametric equations, I wondered if there was a better way to help my student understand.  What tips and tricks do Calculus teachers know that might help me here?  Fortunately, searching for something this specific is feasible, and I can quickly learn what to do.

But, there are other areas of homeschooling, as in any new endeavor, where we may wonder if we’re doing it the way the experts do it. We may not always be able to search directly for the tips we need to improve.  We may wonder how to be more efficient, or more loving, or more inviting.

Marking our ability against the polished pillar of expertise is apt to leave us discouraged.  “I don’t measure up,” will be the inevitable conclusion.  We can look up and see how much more knowledge is available, how inadequate our skills are, and how far we still need to go.  I’ve come to realize that this isn’t helpful for my homeschooling.

One thing I try to do is remind myself of the benefits of being an amateur.  Where the expert relies on experience, the amateur relies on enthusiasm.  Motivated by a keen interest, an amateur wants to learn more.  Amateurs are outside of the typical situation and have a unique perspective.  An amateur acknowledges how much they have to learn.  

Similarly, being called an amateur wasn’t originally intended to be an insult.  Wanting to remind us of this paradox, Sarah Lewis in her book “the Rise” coined the phrase “deliberate amateur” to describe the willingness to innovate even within the mastery you possess.  A deliberate amateur has a mindset that is fresh.  There are no barnacles on the hull, no residue of formalities and red tape. 

Being an amateur has benefits.  The newness creates wonder.  Because they have little to lose, amateurs are willing to try and also willing to share.  They take chances, experiment, and follow their whims. Sometimes, in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, they make new discoveries.

Our homeschooling expertise comes from our knowledge of our own child and our personal commitment to see them succeed.  Our expertise can increase when we are willing to admit what we don’t know and we work to gain the knowledge.  Our expertise comes from being willing to try again and again.  We may not do it the way a professional does, but, as a home educator, we develop our own kind of expertise.  

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