Monday, October 13, 2008

Learning to Let Go ......or How To Kill A Child's Enthusiasm for Learning

One of the challenges of unschooling is learning to let go of preconceptions about how particular learning experiences "should" be conducted. I'm re-learning this all the time and had another lesson today!

Okay, so June Bug likes for me to give him "drawing assignments" to do while I'm in the shower. Understand that the conventional meaning of the word "assignment" is unknown to him. He has never been in a position where he is required to do specific work whether he wants to or not. As a 'teacher', I do not give "assignments". Rather, when he asks me for a drawing assignment, he is really asking for a suggestion of something to try drawing (he draws so often that he sometimes runs out of ideas but wants to keep going anyway!)

So I draw lines to section a paper off into 12 squares. I tell him to draw a letter of the alphabet in each box and something that begins with that letter. I set him up with a clipboard and a step stool in the bathroom and he happily begins drawing while I begin my shower.

Partway through, I peek out, assumedly to 'admire' his progress. But what do I do instead? I end up criticizing instead! The pictures are really good, but I notice that half way down he began writing two letters and drawings in each box. "Why did you put two in one box, you were supposed to do only one per box!" His logic was sound-- he knew that there wouldn't be enough room for all the letters without combining them. Why did it matter if he put two letters in one box? Why did I feel frustrated at his wonderful ability to take my own suggestions and make the project his own? I realized right away that I was effectively killing the project and chided myself for my interference.

Often it is hard to be trusting enough to follow our children's lead. But each day I find myself more conscious of my actions/words and more able to look closely at their consequences. The more we trust in our children's innate desire to learn, the more confident we become in the fact that our children are indeed learning/ In fact, when we stand back and look at what they are doing in their lives, we realize that their rate of growth is simply astounding.
Wishing You New Moments of Clarity,
Mama Randa the Unschooling Mother


Dawn said...

I think you have a loving, wise approach to teaching and learning, and at least you recognized the error right away with your initial reaction to the art work. That elephant in the picture is adorable.

Anonymous said...

I can really relate to this, even though we're not homeschooling. It's so easy to criticize! Often I have a hard time remembering, "Don't sweat the small stuff"!

raining sheep said...

Thank you soooo much for visiting my blog. I really appreciate your comments. I laughed at your post a little bit. When I was little I always colored outside the lines first and than the inside. I lived in Communist Czech Republic where rebellion, like drawing outside the lines, was not tolerated too well. I love the fact that you allow your child the gift of freedom and the gift of a little rebellion. It's all good for the soul and I would not critize yourself too much because chances are this freedom is a new thing for you too. After all, I am assuming you went to school and so have that 'regular' way of schooling and thinking programmed in your takes courage and individuality to break free of that and do what you are doing. Way to go mama!!

Mama Randa Morning Glory said...


thanks for your comment. Yes, i was 'educated' in a 'regular' school where I learned very little except how to be bitter about the 'education'! Even after that, I studied Early Childhood Education in college which was very much centered on the idea that chidlren (even toddlers!)learn by being subjected to a teacher's carefully crafted lesson plans.
These new ways of looking at learning are very new for me, and though I see the value of learning freedom every single day, it is still sometimes challenging to leave those conventional ideas behind about what learning should look like.

RunninL8 said...

I can so relate to this post. I have to bite my toung and wrestle myself away from influencing Lo when she is creating her art. And I have a bad habit of saying"ooo! What is it?!?" when she shows me a drawing..~Banging my head with frying pan~ I try to be mindful and say things like,"What great colors! Tell me all about your picture!"