Trust The Children

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Do You Give Your Children Time to Reflect?

The news is, I am headed back to extend my formal schooling. After some months of pondering and searching, I applied to several schools for graduate work in a Instructional Design and Technology. I was accepted at Utah State University in Logan Utah. So our current home schooling activity is packing, dejunking, painting, refurbishing and praying our house will sell to a wonderful family. It's all good.

While I was researching "Instructional Design" I purchased a book of case studies in Instructional Design. I began reading, with the idea that the presentation of problems and challenges in this field would broaden my vision for future opportunities after schooling is complete. it has and I am more excited than ever.

I read this about learning, 'As Weil and Frame (1992) stated, "experience and action do not themselves guarantee learning. We learn by doing and through reflection on doing. (p. 63)" '

I found several interesting ideas in this small quote, that are sympathetic with my own feelings.

1) Experience and action are central to effective learning.

This paradigm runs counter to much of the formal school experience where amassing an inventory of facts and effectively remembering them long enough for a test, is the accepted model for "learning". Increasing an inventory of facts in and of itself, is great for computers, but not for people who have to make decisions and judgments about things. I have decided that one learns more about decision making, value judgments and wisdom from playing and exploring than from memorizing and regurgitating. Playing and exploring for a child ages 1-12 is like building in their mind a huge sheet of velcro. The little hooks are waiting to "catch" something and through play and exploration, you create a lot of "hooks" in their heads. Later when cognitive learning is introduced more regularly such children have a huge sheet of velcro (experience) in their minds to "hook" learning to. Take away experience and action and replace it with facts and dates, and you have a much smaller sheet of velcro (actual experience living) in the mind and therefore a much smaller capability of hooking stuff together in a meaningful way.

2) Experience and action are not enough.

A child needs time to reflect and think about experience, action and new facts as they are presented. This pondering and thinking time allows them to hook ideas to experience in a meaningful way. Such relation building between facts and experience is the harbinger of "wisdom". When I see children who have been given a large dose of experience and action along with time to daydream and thinking, I almost always see eyes that are lit up and a comfortable maturity with adults and others.

It goes without saying, that home schooling can be as ineffective as formal schooling if action, experience and time for reflection are not provided in an appropriate way. Hence parents who feel the need to keep children forever busy at home miss the point. They often make "education at home" more complicated than it needs to be, busy-ness trumping trusting children.

However, how much easier is it for parents at home, with only a few to "supervise", to foster this process by trusting that children at play are forming a foundation for much more effective learning? Build more velcro in their brains and you are giving children a valuable gift. Keep them "busy" with homework and exercises and you limit the building of velcro in the mind. The gift of being able to associate cognitive learning (aka facts) with experience grows our children and empowers them in marvelous ways. But only IF WE CAN TRUST THE CHILDREN and the PROCESS of building lots of velcro in their brains. Isn't this a valuable gift to give our children? It is!

Now enjoy this and imagine your children playing:

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2 Comments:

  • Wonderful post, Mark, and GRATS on your acceptance to Utah State grad program!

    By OpenID justenough, at 3:29 PM, April 30, 2008  

  • By the way, I am already reading for the classes and have a ton of great quotes I will be bloging on in the future. I bought his cool pen scanner and it scans the text right into any app I am using.

    For example:
    1. What is Kermit learning in this story?
    2. What appear to be the inputs or preconditions to learning in this story? .
    3. What appear to be the processes of learning in this story? .
    4. What is Kermit's role during the learning process?
    5. What Instruction appears to be present in this story, and what is its role? ,
    6. Who are the Implications of Ebbinghaus's forgetting curve for Kermit's learning?
    7. Do you see any examples of Thorndike's Law of Effect in this story?

    Pretty cool huh?

    By Blogger Mark Weiss, at 11:09 PM, April 30, 2008  

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