Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Explaining learning

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'll 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.


The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

LOL....yeah. I get the same thing when I say I couldn't stand to be a Sunday School or VBS teacher.

I had a friend who worked at a day care with older kids. Now that she had three young children and went back to visit some of her friends there, they laughed, because she had adamantly refused to work in the baby room. She said "I'm not against babies, I'm against institutionalized care of babies." They were all quiet.

I would be curious to learn what a typical "learning day" would look like in Indiana Jane's household.

Beth Ritzman said...

All I can say is
"Right On, Jane!"

Jane said...

I will try to post that sometime soon. :)

elephantschild said...


Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...


How are you going to post a typical day at your house, when every day is atypical?

-Pr. Fickel

Jane said...

That is *exactly* the difficulty.

Lostcheerio said...

True -- no one understands how fast and invisible it really is. People also ask us if we're starting up homeschooling again this week, as public school is starting up again, and I say, "We never stopped. We do school all the time. We're doing it right now." Then I look as creepy as possible. ;)