I have been wanting my kids to learn Arabic since before they were born, of course. And since the first child’s birth I was irritated for nearly a decade (maybe more) that this acquisition wasn’t happening naturally via my husband speaking to them in Arabic. It seemed like he just wouldn’t do it, though he could. It took me very many years to understand that he is not a native speaker. Yes, yes- he learned Arabic in school and can read, write, and speak it, but it is his second (or third language) so it does not come naturally to him, just as German, Spanish and French (languages I have somewhat acquired) do not come naturally to me. He did teach the kids how to read Arabic phonetically and got a bit into grammar stuffs with #1 and #2, but when I finally caught onto to the non-native speaker problem I began hiring tutors, which got them much further in the acquisition process. Doesn’t sound exactly like unschooling philosophy, does it? Then this week my eldest son vehemently refused to continue with his Arabic instruction.
While the Arabic tutor worked with my second son, I nagged, begged, threatened and attempted to bribe the heel-dragger, while being awash with a sweeping myriad of emotions all connected with a resounding feeling of failure. He simply wouldn’t do it. Later, he would explain that he “just prefers self-taught learning,” like he is doing with his Latin studies. That sounds like unschooling doesn’t it?
But before he inadvertently helped me to recommit to our unschooling ideals, I had another thought. All this time I have been wanting for my children to learn Arabic, knowing that it will be beneficial to their deen, but for myself I had a dozen or so excuses about not having time to learn Arabic over the last 16 years or so of being Muslim. Um, yeah. So those recently opened slots our Arabic tutor has on Wednesday and Saturday- they’re mine.