From Haphazard to Awesome: When God Provides Learning ‘Coincidences’

We don’t have any required subjects in our house. We discover and learn about things we’re interested in, and we follow our passions. And when we start to “fade out” of one topic of interest, we often “fade into” the next thing with little to no fanfare.

full-circle-learning-cuSome people worry about this approach – they say it’s haphazard. I guess it could be. After all, we’re not committing to a unit study of a particular length, nor promising a final project will come of what we’re doing, nor expecting passing scores on a quiz or test.

Maybe I would worry more about the haphazard thing if it didn’t seem like our learning “coincidentally” follows some pretty awesome paths.

The thing is, I don’t believe in coincidence. But I do believe in God, and the cool thing about Christian unschooling is that where we are, God’s there, and boy, does He guide our learning into being “full-circle” in some pretty amazing ways. For instance, when we started homeschooling in the beginning of 2012, our daughter’s first interest was robots.

  • Robots led to a couple of different things.
  • We saw how robotic cameras helped to discover the wreck of the Titanic, which happened to have happened 100 years earlier exactly and which was featured in a HUGE National Geographic spread that Sarah devoured.
  • We also learned a ton about Mars and moon rovers as we talked about the uses of robotics.
  • Guess what? Sarah developed a huge interest in space, especially moon exploration, which is still continuing, especially since a recent National Geographic had a feature on “why we explore,” including the space program.
  • Somewhere in there, we also started reading a bunch of biographies, including one of Neil Armstrong.
  • We also read a biography of Sitting Bull, a Sioux Indian chief. National Geographic again came through with a “coincidental” cover story on the Sioux and the reservation (I seriously want to write them a thank-you note for anticipating our needs).
  • While we were on the Native Americans path, Sarah developed an interest in Jim Thorpe after a trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. (Where we also saw the Air and Space Museum, back on THAT topic…)
  • Then we took a field trip to the town of Jim Thorpe, PA, where we found a little used bookstore…
  • And in that used book store, Sarah picked up an incredibly arcane book on the history of alchemy and how it was the forerunner of modern chemistry with a heavy dose of philosophy and religion mixed in. We learned that the alchemists used a “coded” style of writing…
  • Then took up some research on codes, ciphers and secret messages
  • That reinforced Sarah’s interest in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology, which she’d first read about in the alchemy book…
  • So she started reading a biography, this time of King Tut.
  • That led us into talking about pyramids and how explorers much later discovered them…
  • Which Sarah immediately connected to how the Titanic was discovered!
  • She then realized that the cover of her book on codes and ciphers depicted the same morse code she’d originally seen at the Titanic exhibit at the National Geographic museum!

There’s so much more than I can even explain, but after the FOURTH time our National Geographic magazine came complete with a cover story on Sarah’s current passion … and what seems like the bazillionth time that one of our books connects to another on what seems to be an unrelated topic … or that we “discover” on our shelves a book we’d forgotten we had that explains something we were wondering about … I realized something.

I could choose to look at these as neat coincidences. Or I could choose to see the hand of a God who cares about our family and wants to help us find the resources we need.

And man, I really like God’s learning coincidences. They’ve taken our possibly haphazard approach and turned it into something truly awesome, with just the right amount of continuity to keep us focused and of surprise to keep us moving forward!

~ Joan

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