Monday, August 11, 2008

Explaining learning

This is a post that I wrote last year for my other blog. Amazingly, I had a conversation this weekend that brought it to mind again.

People understand school. They understand "education." They understand teaching. But what I've come to realize is that very few people understand learning.

They have a hard time grasping the absorption and growth of knowledge and understanding absent coercion or the assistance of an outside expert.

I was trying to explain to someone yesterday that, yes, my kids have learned to spell from reading. My daughter--who is an excellent writer--learned that craft by reading excellent writers.

We don't go "back to school" and that confuses people. I try to explain that they never stop learning, but that seems to confuse people, too.

When people find out that I was an education major, but changed my major after my practicum because I realized I would hate classroom teaching, they always suggest that it's ironic that I am a teacher now. But I'm not. I'm a parent. I actively teach my children very little. What I do do is provide them with opportunities and resources. I surround them with books and maps and music and art. I take them to parks and museums and antique stores and church and zoos and Target and beaches and coffee shops and soccer games and grandmas house. I let them weed the garden and wash the clothes and help me cook.

And we talk. All the time. We talk about the news, the book they're reading, and what the lyrics to our favorite Rush songs mean. We talk about why things are the way they are and what we can or can't do something about. We talk about moving to the country and the animals we'd have and what we would name our dogs. We talk about what we could possibly do with all of our tomatoes and why Amish chickens taste so good and why lightening does what it does when it strikes different structures.

I don't think I could keep them from learning, except maybe by sending them to school.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful post. We do a lot of talking around here, too. : )

Anonymous said...

I love it. Makes me lonesome for you, your family and your fun house (not to be confused with the amusement park variety).

Lisa said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I had to laugh at the end comments.

Stephanie said...

As I certified "educated" teacher myself, I can certainly understand why you didn't want classroom teaching. Classroom teaching is more about managing employees.