Trust The Children

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Teaching vs Discovering

I have been recently reminded that there is a vast difference, in the attitude of a teacher, when ones goal is to teach versus enabling the students to learn. It goes directly to the title of our blog, "trusting the children".

It seems that many who "teach" almost have an ego need to teach, or expound or explain that is much greater than the desire to have students "learn". The assumption is that when I "talk", you must automatically be "learning". This traditional approach to instruction is the frame of reference of the majority of public teachers. I talk, you listen. I talk, that is my role, you listen and regurgitate what I have told you, that is your role. You do it well you get an "A" and more importantly, my approval.

Hence, many who home school their children, and who create their vision or expectations of what is going to happen at home from their experience in the public system, end up putting great pressure on themselves. They create a vision that says "Today as a home educator, I am going to "teach" or "present" or "talk" for a long time." An expectation like this, implies complicated lesson plans, lots of background knowledge and hours of preparation. In addition, this vision puts the majority of the responsibility for education at home upon the teacher instead of the student. Such an imaginary vision, and it is more fiction than fact, convinces many not to venture into the home schooling waters at all. Often, too often, we are prisoners, not of reality, but of the imaginary reality we are not even aware we have bought into.

However, the idea that education requires an all knowing teacher, plays into the hands of the full time educators and supports their argument that parents, as a group, are not in the main "qualified." "After all, I went to school for many years to earn the right to teach children," professional instructors say. "If I agree with you that children can learn without 'certificated teachers' what will be come of me?"

I have learned for myself, over and over again, that many students enjoy being

1) given ideas to look for,
2) material to look in and
3) time to explore, research, discover and come to conclusions.
4) And all of this on their own or with a sibling or parent.

At that point,
5) a group discussion may further enhance the experience of the learner. By group, I mean a parent and child, or a child and brothers and sisters, or a child and friends.

Further. I can't tell you how many times this process led to questions that Cyndy didn't have an answer for, but said, "Let's go together to the Library and see what we can find about that. We can learn together." So much for being the "Teacher who is the fountain of all knowledge." Trusting children to "Learn" on their own, through their own research and effort, and helping them in "their" efforts

1) communicates to children that parents trust them
2) communicates to children that they are capable.
3) communicates to children that learning things line upon line, a bit at a time is just fine.
4) communicates to children that learning together is fun.
5) communicates to children lifelong learning is the norm, not the exception.

The more I work with youth, and adults actually, in training situations, the more I believe, that creating situations for them to learn for themselves and among themselves, is so much more fruitful. It does take some thinking to come up with these kinds of learning activities, After a while, though, it gets easier. Easier to create the learning activity, and easier to overcome the ego need or the habit, of teaching by telling. What counts is that our children learn. What doesn't always count so much, is that the parent in all cases "teaches".


  • Bravo!! I really needed this reminder at this point in my life.
    You're awesome and I appreciate all your efforts at keeping up the blog!
    Jim Gay

    By Blogger Computer Jim, at 10:05 PM, March 08, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home