Saturday, January 15, 2011
An Educated Child
"A child miseducated is a child lost" John F. Kennedy. Sometimes people don't see the things that actually educate children. They think that education absolutely must take place in a classroom with row upon row of students with one teacher at the front of the class, dictating their assignments and lording control over the situation at all times.
I know that the basics of education (math, science and literature) are very important. Into that mix, however, is sometimes lost some essential aspects of learning. Art, Music, Physical education, and, yes, PLAY! The entire world is a classroom, and although I personally have learned a lot from books, I cannot say that my grade 10 algebra has served me well in my life. Nor has my grade 12 geotrig. My understanding of science is not vast, but has now and then come in useful. My love for reading only waned when I was in University and had to read one 500 page novel/day in an intersession class. I swore that when I got out of University I would only read the things that actually interested me. That is exactly what I have done. All in all, I must say that most of my valued education did not in any way come from a classroom setting.
I learned more from my hikes in the woods and my time raising animals on the farm than I ever did in a classroom. It is not that we did not cover things like math, science and literature in the setting of nature. We did. It was just in a far more interesting setting than the classroom could ever hope to be. I got to move around and explore while I learned. Nowadays kids are medicated if they can't sit still. I don't know a kid that can sit still for the length of time the current education system demands. I also learned about my body and how it works in the world around me. That was far more important to me than learning the rules and regulations of football. I also built personal confidence in my art and music education, most of which had nothing at all to do with my schooling.
In some ways, I think I was one of the first kids that experienced homeschooling, although I did attend school as well, boring as it was. I am also aware of the fine line between allowing a child to just be a child and allowing a child to decide that he or she is not interested in learning in general. A lot of parents, homeschooling parents or not, miss those indicators. They get so wrapped up in just day to day functioning that they miss that their child has just spent five days of his or her life and not fed the brain with activity that can stimulate growth and learning. My own children are home schooled and I think that this is an ideal environment for them to learn. I do not, however, think that it is a valid excuse to slack off when it comes to some essentials of learning. I am also quite aware that kids will learn different things at different rates. So I never compare one child to another when it comes to when each learned what. But I do want to be sure that the information is provided in a variety of ways until it sinks in...daily. That way eventually they notice that the pieces have fallen together and they have completed another piece of the puzzle of life.
This is the way to learn. Through opportunity and repetition of a theme, kids will come to their conclusions about how things work. We don't need a classroom setting to learn. We need an open invitation.