Sunday, March 22, 2015

Partners vs. Tour Guides

A couple of weeks ago, a dream and an episode of The Secret Life of Us inspired me to write this post.

In it, I asked, is it better to be partnered with someone who is also struggling? Or is it better to be partnered with someone who knows what they're doing and can act as a mentor?

This morning I've been watching another episode of The Secret Life of Us, and Gabrielle and Alex had a conversation that sounded very similar to what I wrote. I feel like this show and I are totally on the same page.

Gabrielle is trying to decide what to do about the two men in her life. Her almost-ex-husband Jason admitted he still loves her. Dominic, her married lover, has left his wife for a second time and wants Gabrielle back.  Gabrielle talks about how she doesn't know if she wants a man who already has a family. She wants to be with someone who is like her—new to it all.

Gabrielle says, I want a partner. Not a—

Alex then cleverly completes her sentence. An experienced tour guide.

With that in mind, Gabrielle probably needs to find a man beyond Jason and Dominic, because Jason already has a baby son with someone else.

But anyway....

The thing that came to my mind today about the whole partner versus tour guide thing is homeschooling. I think some parents imagine they could never be their child's teacher because they don't even remember how to do long division, and they don't know which planet is closest to the sun.  Sometimes when we tell people we homeschool, I think they imagine I'm some freak of nature who remembers everything I learned in elementary school and high school. Then I spend my days filling my child with this knowledge.

I rarely fill my child with knowledge. If I try, he usually looks annoyed and starts daydreaming. Most learning these days, in our house, is done as a solitary pursuit. If it's done together, it usually comes in the form of one of us asking questions, because we really are curious. Then usually we have to go to the Internet to look it up.

In education, neither children nor adults need a tour guide. Maybe in this past they did. But these days, with all the information available on the internet, it's really not necessary. We can learn on our own. If we want companionship, there's nothing wrong with it being a partnership rather than mentorship.

Then again, this isn't a perfect analogy to what was said in the show. I'm not new to stuff like long division. I've just forgotten most of it, and I end up having to re-learn it.

So in defense of Gabrielle staying with Dominic...he may have children, but it's been awhile since they were babies. He may have forgotten all his fathering-a-baby skills.  Plus, every baby is different.