The Beauty of Incomplete Assignments

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"The fog of sleep evaporated quickly as the sunlight hit his eyes. He tried to focus on the thing in front of him. Whatever it was, it was smiling."

That is still one of my favorite openings to a story I never really started. My files are filled with these incomplete works. I get an idea and start in, only to run out of time, imagination, or get sidetracked by another great idea.

There's absolutely something to be said for learning to finish projects. It is essential that we develop follow-through and tenacity in our work. We must learn how to get to the end of things and be willing to stop when it's "good enough." Those are important skills. But, in many ways, I don't think we should push ourselves--or our students--to finish creative works, our essays--our attempts.

A silent shard, a sliver,
A ...

I started typing that over two years ago, my mind flooded with words which fit together beautifully, only to reach the second line and go completely blank.

I quietly mourned the loss of a beautiful verse, and then moved on.

The wonderful mastery approach to learning should not be applied to creative writing, artistic works, or technological tinkering. The point is to discover the joy of playing with the medium--be it words, wood, or wingbats. There will be time to hone your skill; to get the punctuation correct, to trace the line without wobbling, to know the theory behind the circuitry. But for now, these attempts open the world of possibility.

What does this mean practically for your homeschool?

Don't detract points for coloring outside the lines.
Don't feel the need to correct spelling in creative works. And if your student is done with the assignment, even if it is incomplete, it may be time to move on to something else.

If you find it hard not to just let things be, make sure your children have plenty of opportunity to do things on their own. I don't think my parents have seen more than a few pages of what I wrote while at home. Most of my practice with writing came from doing it on my own time; time afforded me because I was homeschooled.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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