Monday, April 14, 2008

Joy of Learning

Last night my girls and I went for a walk (we went for ice cream and I figured if we walked I could eat ice cream without guilt). On the way, my four year old discovered dandelions. She was fascinated by them as we noticed them along the way. I finally stopped and picked one to show her the seeds and how you can blow them. She had some trouble blowing the seeds at first, but eventually figured it out. We talked about what was happening to the seeds when she blew them and what would happen next. She was so excited about them that she carried two home to show her dad. She also wanted to keep them but we convinced her that we could always get more.

This whole experience struck me because of how much she was learning and how much fun she was having. She asked question after question. She learned a lot about seeds and plants through our discussion. She explored the dandelions in many ways, blowing the seeds, touching the different parts, smelling them. When she finally managed to blow the seeds on her own she was so proud of herself.

I want her learning to always be this way. I want her to continue to ask questions and get excited about new things. Will that continue once she starts school in the fall? How long will it take before she looks at learning in a totally different light?

Do children naturally outgrow this joy in learning or do schools push it out of them?

5 comments:

Blink said...

I think we push instruction. As teachers we have nine months to get in a lot of stuff. If we had the chance to teach as spontaneously as your post describes it would look so differently. It would be at the whim of the student. I wonder how much less/more we would get covered in nine months teaching that way?

Josie said...

I think a lot of it is how we deal with our children's questions (both our own children and our students). Today, I overhead one of Blink's students ask her if she got her coffee grounds from the compost to make the coffee. I inappropriately laughed (but not in a mean way!) Blink, on the other hand, said, "no, I didn't get them from the grounds, but that is a great question. That's one of the things I love about you - all the wonderful questions you ask."

As long as we send a message that asking questions is a great thing to do, and risk-taking is worthwhile, I think we'll be okay.

Benjamin Baxter said...

The way to answer this question is to look at home-schooled students. They can be just as apathetic and frustrated as other students.

Learning can be a lot of work. Logic games --- in the form of math --- are absolutely needed. They are also often absolutely frustrated.

Moreover, students are pretty susceptible to each other's influence: I'm told I only started hating vegetables once a neighbor kid convinced me that hot dogs were the only thing worth eating.

To my mind, it's the same with school.

Benjamin Baxter said...

*frustrating

Anonymous said...

i agree w/ bb above.
the kids are pre-wired: similar school vastly different outcomes.
but... you have got to know that some systems do help kindle that flame of excitement & involvement a bit longer.
small classroom/schools
k-8 schools
parent involvement
waldorf based (hmmm my bias.. only because we have the same teacher for 4 years then switch to a new teacher for upper grade)
minimize state testing.