I have been forced, in recent months, to examine all that is comfortable and familiar to me when it comes to academics and education. My observations of Matthew's burgeoning curiosity after we stopped working through curriculum was like a shock wave through my system. I had forgotten how curious he used to be, how prone to thought he was. This was my naturally curious, philosophical little boy with a zillion things going on in his oh-so-sensitive heart and mind at any given time. What had I done to him by thrusting traditional curriculum on him - it seemed as if the only thing I did was to stifle that natural curiosity.
I hadn't even noticed that he'd stopped asking questions, stopped being curious, until after we'd dropped the curriculum and just started living life. That forced me into hindsight-is-20-20 kind of thinking and I could see clearly, all of the sudden, that he'd been growing quieter and quieter in the past year or two as it concerned his naturally curious nature. Then, after we stopped doing school in spring as a result of my frustrated efforts, and while we were still on a break, suddenly one day he just said out of the blue that he'd been wanting to learn more about Aboriginal people for years (who knew) and asked if we could do some reading up on the subject. So we did. This wasn't on any curriculum that I knew of, for grade 3 students, but he (and Seth and Lizzie) sure learned a lot, and our study of the Inuit led to learning about the Arctic and about polar animals, etc etc. It was amazing! We never did go back to our regular curriculum after that.
That experience was my wake-up call...the one I'd been suspecting was lingering in the back of my mind for many months already but one that was too scary to dig too far into until that day of the returning curiosity.
And so I have spent the summer contemplating our schooling system and asking myself what this is all about anyway.
What is schooling about? What is its goal?
I'm sure there are as many thoughts about this as there are people with children to school! My personal perspective is that schooling is (or should be, if it's not) about learning how to live life and about preparing for adulthood.
I have thought about those two statements as I have pondered what our schooling should be about.
Learning how to live life, and preparing for adulthood.
Thinking about these factors led me to thinking through, at a broad level and at a specific level, the hopes/dreams/objectives I have for my kids by the time they reach adulthood, and about how I think our schooling in these early years can be oriented towards achieving those hopes/dreams/objectives. Those big questions just haven't gone away.
I'll just note first, however, that although I'm talking about my dreams for my children, I'm in no way attempting to live vicariously through them! I don't need to live through their lives; I've got my own life to live, have my own dreams and hopes and objectives, thank you very much! When I talk about my dreams for my children's future, I'm talking about what I believe to be in their best interests...because it's my job as their parent to know them well enough to know what they need, and to understand the world well enough to know what my kids will need to know and what they will need to understand in order to lead life as an adult.
In other words, it's our jobs as their parents to teach them how to live life, and to prepare them for adulthood.
It's our job as their parents to provide the environment in which they can mature as emergent, adaptive, integrated adults.
So, let's get down to brass tacks...what are those hopes/dreams/objectives that we have for our kids?
Big post coming tomorrow.
(to be continued)