being educated

This is what I’m reading this morning, a blog shared in an unschooling yahoogroup. Bob Collier points out in his article How to Cut Out the Middleman on the Road to Academic Success how easily we can get information today, with all our technological devices, and he asks,

How much longer, then, I wonder, will today’s ‘techno savvy’ children – tomorrow’s parents, consumers and voters – tolerate the idea that ‘being educated’ means being confined in a school building for six hours a day, five days a week, year after ponderous year, so that they can fidget and yawn away their valuable time while the adult keeping them in the room is trying to teach them what they know only too well they could learn more quickly – and in more agreeable circumstances – from their personal computer? If they want to learn it to start with, that is.

I have thought about how fast the world is changing. I know my life is very different than my parents’. I wonder what life will be like for our kids when they’re adults. I think it’s nearly impossible to guess. I certainly never imagined email and such things. I bet it’s going to be even more different, because the pace of change is ever-increasing. That is why I don’t feel compelled to force my kids into “traditional learning,” but rather encourage their independence and confidence. They can always look up historical or scientific facts, but if they lose their curiosity or self-confidence, they will struggle.

I know my daughters do not like “being educated.” They love learning though! I can’t imagine sitting them down to lessons on a daily basis, saying, “Now it’s time to learn such-and-such.” But Rhiannon is an avid reader of a variety of subjects and is constantly asking questions starting with such words as “Why…?” “What…?” and “How…?” And Caroline is so determined to be independent she gets mad when I thoughtlessly try to help. As frustrating as persistence can be in a child who is insisting on doing something their way right now, I have to admire it, thinking of how it will benefit them to persist in projects throughout life.

Of course it’s kind of scary for a parent to let go of the familiarities with with we grew up. I think that’s why some moms limit computer time, for instance. It doesn’t feel right because we didn’t spend any time on the computer when we were kids. Of course, there were no computers then! Now kids are growing up with computers all around them, naturally and comfortably learning skills needed to use them. It’s different to us parents, but it’s just life to our kids.

Computers and other technology are just more devices available to us today, joining other tools such as pencils and compasses and microscopes. And while kids need us adults as facilitators, I think what they need most is their curiosity, love of learning, and confidence left intact. Which means letting them educate themselves, rather than presumptuously trying to educate them.

I’m still learning this myself. I hold on to two shelves full of teacher resource books and, though I don’t accomplish it, I think I should be using them to plan activities for the kids in a variety of subjects on a weekly basis. I wonder if I’m ever going to let go of that idea. I suppose after 17 years of “being educated” (and I was a good student) it’s hard to let it go. I don’t plan those activities, but I have nagging guilty thoughts about it. Fortunately, meanwhile, my kids are growing and learning and enjoying it all anyway.

p.s. I still love learning, despite being educated.  😉  I’m so pleased with myself for learning how to use the quote button in this wordpress program!  Look at that cute quote graphic!  🙂