“If you can imagine it, you can create it.
If you can dream it, you can become it”.
William Arthur Ward
Two guys played in their garage tinkering with computer stuff for years. Sounds like a lot of kids these days. Can’t says I’m letting my kids become computer geniuses–that’d be a different blog about limiting screen time and the joys of the backyard–but these guys I speak of became fairly successful since most of us either own one of their products, or at least are aware of their success.
A good long while ago, a curious artist and scientist wondered why the shifts in constellations occurred. In fact, the church-government was ready to have his head, literally, if he continued his blasphemy against the Scriptures. Nearly burned at the stake, or was it beheaded?, he overcame despite his seemingly “questionable” theory that the earth was rotating around the sun. He didn’t learn his theories in school.
Education should be individualized.
In a recent TED talk titled “How to escape education’s death valley“, Ken Richardson had a lot to say about how schools kill creativity. If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget. Curiosity is the engine of achievement. Teaching is not a delivery system…education is about learning…
Kids are naturally learning animals. Maybe they’re not interested in the topics we want to share with them. Maybe they have different interests than ourselves, but they are curious. When provided large swaths of time to pursue their interests, they do.
Though I have plenty planned for each study year, I know that the best avenues to walk are those aroused by the ones that I am engaging, my children. If they’re interested in something, they will learn. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning. That’s it.
“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”. Albert Einstein
If they ask questions, I should listen, not tell them to be quiet, because I’m doing something else.
If they’re asking questions, it means they’re thinking. They’re digesting something about what I’m sharing with them or because they heard something on the news they want to understand.
I should give them plenty of time to free play, watching for signs of ‘too much‘ in my daily lesson plans. Too much lap reading time, too much writing, too many math pages, too much of pretty much any activity (even television) is just too much.
I am a mother of four. It is not possible to answer every one of their questions or satiate every one of their curiosities. So I’m not suggesting we incarnate as Google. However, we can recognize that their constant questions and curiosities can be used as starting points to introducing geology or logic or world economics, or any number of possibilities.
And dare you suggest: I don’t know everything. Well, of course you don’t! No one does. Except possibly Mr. Google, and God. Teach them how to answer their own questions too; explain the resources. But definitely assume that their curiosities can be a starting point to their education.
“Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.” Chinese Proverb
When the cup is full, it is full! Add just a little bit more grammar, or French, or history, and that little bit is just too much. Anything more will not be received into their comprehension or memory.
Overwhelm the system with too much social interaction, too many activities, too many lessons, and there is just too much. The busier and more active our schedule gets, the harder it is for us to take in more information. Overwhelm the senses, and it’ll be a most unpleasant scenario for everyone. The more freedom they have to just think, the more potential for cuing their creativity.
The cup runneth over. And it ain’t staying in the cup.
Boredom is a good thing.
When someone shares “Mom, I’m bored“, I can relate; I remember that feeling (it’s been a decade or so, but it hasn’t disappeared from my grey matter)…”Mom, I’m bored” means that they’re just about to crack a code, or unlock the secrets to the Universe or discover the cure for cancer, or just pursue a new interest that might lead to one day cracking a code, or unlocking secrets or curing diseases, or any meaningful contribution to the world.
Maybe my child won’t crack a code, unlock the secrets to the Universe or discover a cure for cancer, but each of them will find meaningful things to occupy their time in this world if they’re trusted to occupy their time.
There might be plays titled Pranky, where a girl plays a prank on another little girl. It’s a silent film, complete with five year old Master of Ceremonies and tickets for fifty cents. Popcorn is available too.
There might be treehouses built in the backyard where the playground swings were dismantled and reattached to a tree, decomposed autumn leaves raked into separate rooms, and cardboard boxes made into cars.
There might be extra guitar practice and piano playing and reorganizing of bedrooms and painting of nails.
There might be reading about a Russian tsarina, wiki searches on koala bears and bumphead parrot fish. There might be YouTube videos of the first walk on the moon and extended chess games.
I should not assume that a filled schedule, a stocked library, perfect answers, or even written work are the keys to educational success. An education is not a product. An education is a lighting of a fire in the mind.
“Curiosity is a delicate little plant which, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.”–Albert Einstein