Last night over dinner, my 6-year-old had this conversation with her Papa:
Papa: “So what did you learn at school today?”
LadyBug Girl: “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?”
LG: “From Mommy and Daddy and things I make up.”
Papa: “What do you mean ‘make up’?”
LG: “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 my exact definition of how I’m teaching my kids? Man, I don’t have my act together. 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 a little 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.
I’d like to take a few blog posts to really pick apart 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 many, many different styles that will require different adaptations.
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 the Sir Ken Robinson TED talks – they are amazing. He talks about how we can’t just 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?
What are your thoughts on education? Should we reframe the word, or throw it out all together? I’m feeling more and more like the word “education” fits in the standardized school box, and “learning” paves the way for a whole new paradigm.
Number one goal this week: Define what “learning” means.