Why "Trust the Children" ?
Cyndy and I have attended lots of home schooling conventions. More in the early years than now. (When you home school as long as we have, you kind of get into a pattern that works for you.) I have been inspired by many of the great speakers. Yet, for me, the most intriguing time during these conventions, was listening to the questions and wonderings of home schoolers new and less new during the open "Question and Answer" sessions.
I am amazed at how often home schooling parents are willing to "risk" by asking questions with often 50 or more people listening in. It demonstates to me that those asking, care deeply about the education of their children. So deep that making themselves bit vunerable is less important than the chance that the answer to their question might be an important "key" to unlocking potential in their children.
Often, as I listen to the questions, I wonder if the goal for some parents is "education for the children", or "recreating the parent's own public learning experience" in the home.
I had a great learning experience at Duniway Grade School. But yet I captured a vision of something that might just be better.
How about trusting the interests our children have as indicators of how we may be facilitators and enablers instead of lecturers?
One of our daughters thought she loved music. We trusted in that interest, her curiosity to learn more and this spring celebrated a Masters Degree in Music.
One son's eyes were wide as saucers when under the Christmas tree was a Texas Instrument TI-90. We set it up Christmas day and he wrote his first program. We trusted his interest and helped it along. Then came a Macintosh. He was hired by Microsoft out of High School and today works for the Mac Business Unit with a budding career in something he loves AND is good at.
Another daughter it was trying to make the volleyball team at the local high school. We trusted in that interest, and she ended up going to state with her volleyball team. But more importantly, this experience helped her define herself as a leader, though her approach was more of a quiet one and a contributor with something to offer as a member of a team.
Another son has has a hard time with reading, but he loves welding and building things and when an opportunity to learn CNC Milling at the school came up, it was amazing how motivated he was to read. We trusted in his natural interest and so many other things came along with it.
I could go on with each of the kids. As long as their interest is morally ok and within some perameter of safety, bumps and bruises excluded, we trust them and facilitate them with enthusiasm.
I could go on and on. But this is the conclusion. There is something natural and powerful and miraculous all rolled into one, when we respond to the interests of our children and help them grow there. Trusting the Children is somehow right, and magic and powerful and transformational in the lives of our children. It seems to be like floating with the current instead of swimming against it. Going with the flow instead of bucking the tide.
Education doesn't have to be a choice between doing fun things or school, between adventure or drudgery. Taking fun things and adventure and putting that into a framework where learning occurs is a way of "Trusting the Children."
This approach puts less stress on the parents, (ie. minimizing it not eliminating it). It makes the taste of learning sweet in the mouths of our children. Natural curiosity is more often preserved to be used in future days. And as we have experienced, the seeds of leadership are sown. A type of leadership that is true leadership more than management of the status quo.
How about trusting your children to recover from their own choices more and rescuing them less? When we rescue, and shield our children from responsibility for their decision too much, we send a message that we don't trust them to recover themselves from poor choices. We, in effect, weaken their own self image. On the other hand, when we allow them to deal with the consequences of their poor choices, we send a message that we think they are capable of doing the adult thing, which is the take responsibility for our decisions. The sooner our children get burned a bit for their poor choices, by taking full responsibility for the consequences, the sooner they will be more careful in the decision making process.
What are some other ways we can use the principle of "Trusting our Children" as we nurture their choices in education?