Inspiring Is Hard

I grew up thoroughly immersed in the public school system. I was fed a healthy diet of workbook pages, textbook reading, lists of assignments, and grades. And I didn’t turn out too bad, so I figured it was a pretty good way to be educated.

My attitude started to change after I had my first child. I like to say she didn’t just come into this world marching to the beat of a different drummer, but that she actually came dancing in a corner to synthesized music playing in her head. And she does not like anyone telling her what to do.

When she was three, I told her to go back to her room one morning and not come out until she had both pants AND underwear on for the day. When she reemerged, she had put her underwear on OVER her pants–just to prove that she was still in charge.

So when my husband and I decided to homeschool, which was when she was almost four, I knew I was not going to be able to require her to do anything. I learned through trial and error that if I made learning fun, she would go along. But as she got older and we had three more children, I started to think that we needed to get serious and start doing “real” school.

I planned out the curriculum. I mapped out a daily schedule of subjects to learn. I created an intricate reward system of tokens and prizes. And I was determined that my children–especially my daughter–would learn how to buckle down and work hard and learn what they needed to learn when it was time to learn it.

It lasted six weeks!

During that six weeks, everything that I had loved about school began to disappear. The delight and joy that I had seen in my children’s eyes as we played together was gone. Our days were full of threats and consequences and tears–so many tears! Learning was becoming a drudgery. We weren’t having fun anymore.

So I stopped. I went on my own journey for the next several months, searching for new answers. I read all I could about different homeschool curriculums and methodologies. When I finally read about the Thomas Jefferson Education model, I was particularly impressed with the idea of “Inspire, Not Require.”

That’s what I’d been doing all along! I just didn’t have a name for it. If you’d asked what I was doing up to that point, I would have said I was just coming up with fun ways to motivate my kids to learn. True—but not nearly as catchy!

So, with this new vocabulary, I started over again. And I began to realize something. Inspiring is hard! It’s messy and unpredictable. It doesn’t come with a road map or a lesson plan. What works for one child doesn’t work for another. And there are far more examples of how NOT to inspire than there are TO inspire.

But sometimes we make it harder than it has to be. As I have learned more about what works to inspire–or motivate–another person, I’ve realized that there are “inspiring fundamentals” that I can build on. And anytime I have a model to follow, my job gets a little easier. While how you inspire in your home will definitely look different than how I do it in mine, the fundamentals are the same. So it can be easier for you to inspire, too!

I’ve started this website because I want to make inspiring easier for anyone who is interested in inspiring another person to learn. I want to take time and share my thoughts in four different areas: the theory and ideas behind inspiring, learning activities that help inspire, reviews of inspiring resources, and examples from my life and the lives of others about what inspiring actually looks like.

If you have ideas or information that you think would be helpful, I would love to hear from you! I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I believe as we all work towards being more inspiring, we can help each other make the journey just a little easier. Thanks for coming along!

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3 Comments

Filed under Examples and Stories, Theory Behind It All

3 responses to “Inspiring Is Hard

  1. rachel matteson

    Tori Ann-your site is gorgeous, and I will check back for your shared information! This is a great idea.

  2. Shanny

    I too love your set up here and am looking forward to hearing more! :)

  3. Wow Tori Ann I love your website! I love your story about Lillian, I had never really heard the whole thing. I would like to think that I was inspiring my kids to learn in our homeschooling efforts. You are so right though, it is hard and with eight at home I have realized that each one has a different learning style–so interesting :0) I will enjoy reading your posts on this site and learning together with you and others on this most important subject :0)

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