Last night over dinner, my 6-year-old had this conversation with her Papa:
Papa: “So what did you learn at school today?”
Ellie: “Nothing; we just play.” (insert shock at him for thinking they actually learn).
Papa: “How do you learn all the things you know about then?”
Ellie: “From Mommy and Daddy and things I make up.”
Papa: “What do you mean ‘make up’?”
Ellie: “I make things up in my head and then I figure out how they work.”
After I got over my initial disappointment that she doesn’t see that she’s learning valuable things in her homeschool enrichment program, I started to really think on what she said. You see, I’ve felt the pressure to define her education.
“She’s unschooled.” Riiiiiight. So what does that mean? What is an accurate definition of how I am educating my children? I have no schedule. I have no curriculum. I have no idea. Seriously. Who am I to think I can teach my kids anything brilliant? I’m no rocket scientist.
Let me tell you about some of the judgments I’ve felt based on what I’ve seen in education:
- There are educational checkpoints that need to be followed – tie your shoes at this age, read by this age, count to ten at this age.
- Memorization = knowledge
- The only way to enforce learning is to test, test, test.
- In order for life to run smoothly, education is standardized – overall, if everyone achieves the norm, then everyone is “educated.”
- TV is for lazy parents
- If there is no plan, there is no learning
Wow – that last one has really laid on the guilt pounds. If I’m going to homeschool my kids, that means I need a clear agenda to lay out exactly what they will accomplish. That has definitely not been on our calendar lately.
For the next few weeks, let’s address this whole “education” concept and see what our goals are with our kids. I don’t want to lay out a pretty “unschooling is the only way to go and it’s all roses” mentality. There are many, many ways to educate. There are many, many ways kids will learn, and there are just as many different styles that will require various adaptations.
It may help you to hear what we do. I want to share our story – the struggles, the successes, the bumps in the road, and the “almost but not quite” great intentions. Ultimately, I hope we’ll make it through life with gusto and excitement and be better because of it.
I’ve been listening to Sir Ken Robinson TED talks – they are amazing. Sir Kenneth Robinson is an English author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He says we can’t improve a broken model with education anymore. It’s not a linear thing. Learning…education…it’s organic. It grows and develops in everyday life. How do you define the right way to learn?
When you are passionate and excited about something, how quickly do you soak up more information? How about when it’s simply required for a test? Does memorization really equal knowledge? If are are to create a “climate of possibility” where learning can occur (As Sir Ken Robinson says), where does our agenda fit in?
Write out your current definition of education. Should we reframe the word, or throw it out all together? Do you see the word “education” as a definition of the standardized school box? For me, “learning” paves the way for a whole new paradigm.
Ask these questions:
- How does your child best learn? Are they more visual, auditory, kinesthetic?
- What do they best love to learn?
- When is your child in a “zone” where time flies and they are having so much fun?
This week – take a step back and talk with your family: Define what “learning” means to you and your family. Share your thoughts below!