I was thinking about this quote this week when I was working on an article for a local homeschooling newsletter on organization of books and homeschooling materials. Organization really does play a big part in that atmosphere. If books and materials are kept within easy reach, they are more likely to be used and to be put away again so as not to leave the home overwhelmed with disorder and chaos.
"A clean and orderly house is a joy to everyone, yet there is a need to be sensitive to the greater importance of freedom to paint, mix clay, scatter pieces of cloth in cutting out a dress or a sail....The priorities mustn't get mixed up."
Balancing these two issues should be a concern for all homeschoolers. I remember a friend of mine who was always commenting about how inferior she felt to me because her house was not as neat as mine. I was often reminding her that I admired the atmosphere in her home where all kinds of fun and creative activities were going on. I was striving to let go of my neat obsession and gain the kind of home she had. I have had to make a conscious decision between trying to have a home that looks like a page out of magazine or a place where learning and "living" is encouraged. I just can not be happy in chaos but I think I've learned to handle temporary messes and know that they will be cleaned up. Having a place for everything has greatly helped.
Another issue raised in this chapter is encouraging/discouraging creativity with our reactions.
"Parent, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and sisters and brothers can squash, stamp out, ridicule, and demolish the first attempts at creativity, and continue this demolition long enough to cripple spontaneous outbursts of creation. These things can take place carelessly, and we might be astonished at what we have unconsciously spoiled."
"A mutual trust is built up in carefully listening to even the wildest and most impossible-sounding projects. If the response is always, 'Oh, that's impossible,' then the communication doesn't continue. A person, even a five year old, gets discouraged in setting forth anidea if it is immediately ruled out, and if the ideas continue, they will be taken to somebody else outside the family!"
Boy, this really hit home. Remember my husband's nick name, Mr. Potts? Well, he's named that after the father in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. You know, the one with all of the crazy inventions throughout his house. Well, that's who I'm married to. The safest response has always seemed to me to be first - NO WAY then take it into consideration second. My husband is exactly the opposite. He is always the encourager first. He really does practice this next quote.
"Discussion, constructive criticism, presentation of some thoughts on what has been done, cannot be given to anyone at the wrong moment. The right moment comes later."
Once I got my brother-in-law to test him. He purposely suggested to Mr. Potts the stupidest idea he could think of for some invention or solution to some problem just to see how far he would go to find something encouraging to say first. Apparently it was something so outlandish that it did cause Mr. Potts to stumble a bit but he still managed to not outright laugh or tell him how stupid it was.
And a final quote:
"What society needs more than anything else is a glimpse through a window into the family life of people who are becoming creative in amazingly diverse ways and who haven't time to be bored."
Lord, help us all to foster that spirit in our homes.