Thursday, April 10, 2008

little ramble on learning

Today I went to Tal's learning group and sang some songs with them for their current Canada study. We sang two songs about our island, spent time looking at a map of the island and where we all lived, etc. Then we did some Katajjak (Inuit throat singing), and played some rhythm instruments. Then we moved on to look at mining in Canada, and sang the Hard Rock Miner. The whole thing was supposed to take less than 1/2 an hour, but because the kids were so enthusiastic and involved, took nearly an hour. Because it's an open classroom, that wasn't such a big deal; I was able to just let the learning and enthusiasm of the group carry the time, and I think it was really successful. I haven't taught kids in years (since Tal was a baby) and I left feeling totally fulfilled and thrilled, myself.

We sing a lot at home, but Tal is often reluctant to join in, and certainly won't do it in public, although he has plenty of opportunity. Once, recently, I was singing something on the way into his school and he blushed and told me to stop singing before somebody heard me! Today he actually seemed happy to have me there, and... he sang along!! So after we left I thanked him for welcoming me into his morning and letting me do my thing. His response was an enthusiastic "thank you for coming to sing with us, Mama!!" I just about cried. My teaching has come full circle and the joy I find teaching other people's children has made its way back to my own!

So now for some more thoughts on learning. The following are various viewpoints I've come across in the past few years. The last one is my own belief, but I'm throwing them all out for the sake of contemplation; I think this is very interesting.
  1. We learn at an ever slowing rate from birth onwards, so that the first few years are the richest, and it slowly curves off until we reach middle age, at which point the curve either levels off or heads down again (ack?!).
  2. We learn at a relatively steady rate throughout our lives, ending up wise and learned.
  3. We learn at an exponentially increasing rate throughout our lives, as new learning builds upon prior knowledge/experience... so that the richest "learning years" are in our old age.
  4. We learn here and there and everywhere, gathering as we go and forgetting things that are less important or less used.
  5. Learning needs a new name. Call it "growing". We're always growing, always changing, and our personal collection of feeling and memory grows, changes, evaporates or is stored for future retrieval in an amorphous, patternless flow that may roughly follow the flow of our lives. There is no more or less "learning" theres always constant change.
*And if we consider past life experience to be a part of learning (for those children who remember past lives, it most certainly is!), how does that affect all of the above?

So if I'm right at all in my belief, why do we "learn" in "school", and then in "university", and then, for the most part, begin life applying the skills we learned without considering further education? Of course it's black and white; I realize that. But I do believe that many of us subconsciously see our learning leveling off at the end of our "formal schooling". So do we then also subconsciously close our minds to further learning? And why is it that so many people have to venture out after finishing highschool or university for "self-discovery" adventures? Why weren't they given the opportunity to discover themselves earlier? Why don't we accept our children for the open, creative, natural forces of change that they are, and rejoice in the opportunity to share our growing with them?

I'm often criticized for underestimating the school system and the enormous effort that is put out by parents and teachers to provide a rich and varied environment for our children's education. I certainly have been critical of some common teaching methods, and our family has made a pointed choice to opt out of mainstream education. But as more of our friends become more involved in the mainstream education, I hear of a lot of parents and teachers who do seem to hold the same values we do, and to try to apply those in that "mainstream" education. Yay! And for my part, I'm ever so glad to be welcomed into my children's lives -- I'm growing well, these days!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comment will appear after it is approved. This can take a while!