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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Children and Learning

After mentioning the blog Nurtured by Love in a post last night, I wanted to direct interested readers towards a couple of her posts in particular that have struck me or given me food for thought over the past year.

Building Character

I think people become strong like plants become strong -- by starting with deep roots. I think that childhood is a time to grow deep roots. Later you can challenge the seedling with wind, drought, and deluge and it will probably do just fine because it will have the firm grounding necessary to weather the hardship.

The Role of Home Teacher

I think it's important to recognize that institutional schooling represents a sort of contracting out of the academic education portion of the responsibility for raising a child, and that this is a relatively recent practice in the scope of human history. The idea of having separate roles for "teacher" and "parent" is a little artificial.

I see the distinction between "being a mom" and "being a homeschool teacher" in a similar light. They're not separate roles. We tend to see them as separate because culturally we have made an artificial separation, assigning the roles to different people. If they're not going to different people, they don't need to be different.

Respect For Authority

I don't believe respect is a behaviour that is learned through repeated practice. I believe that respect is a moral understanding that springs from empathy. In other words it comes from a a strongly-rooted set of moral values, not repetitive behaviour. And strongly grounded values are of course best learned through consistent caring teaching within the family ... rather than the rather random, capricious examples set in institutional settings.

This unschooling mother of four thinks interesting thoughts, don't you think? And I find myself alternately marveling that her philosophy of education is wonderful and has clearly worked for her children, and then wondering how in the world something like this could possibly work when children (like adults) are, after all, imperfect and prone to laziness.

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. Today, an adult, I am both a student and a teacher myself. I observe dozens of children each week in their interactions with me, with their parents, and with their peers. I hear the good, the bad, and the ugly of their school experiences. I see five-year-olds exhausted and emotionally on the brink of a meltdown after a day of school. I witness students who say they hate school, and other students whose eagerness to learn and grow is unstoppable. I observe their family, social, and school environments and wonder at the differences. And I find these thoughts from Miranda to be good things to ponder.

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