Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Broken Cup

Recently, I've been taking the time to read the entire California Content Standards for Kindergarten through Third Grade.  My intention was to find creative ways to present this material to A. throughout the year.  I thought that she needed to keep up with her peers and feared that I would somehow be putting her at a disadvantage if she wasn't learning what the Joneses were learning.   

On September 12th, we hit the books pretty hard and, unfortunately, I was hit with more resistance from A. than I ever imagined possible.  She is a bright cookie and understands just about anything you put before her... but, quite suddenly it seemed, she wanted nothing to do with anything I gave her.  Of course, this was a huge red flag that we were doing something wrong... so we just s-t-o-p-p-e-d doing everything. 

We've taken a few days off for emptying our cup and I'm hoping that here, with a beginners mind, we'll discover something altogether new.  In fact, if I had to take the cup analogy even further, I would say that we've thrown the damn cup on the floor, stomped on it and shouted, "to life!"  Maybe here, amidst the broken [deconstructed] pieces, we can find a new perspective. 

Meanwhile, I've been plodding along at John Holt's classic, How Children Learn, and having quite a few light-bulb moments about my approach to our studies.  It seems that I've created a little version of public school at home again.  I'm so conditioned by my own education that I unconsciously fall back to this paradigm again and again!  Un-leanrning, it seems, is more difficult than learning!

Yesterday, I gathered all of the content standards together and set out to organize these several hundred pages into a three-hole binder.  Today I've discovered a better use for them and a better use of our time.  Instead of stressing about how to teach what the state of California has deemed necessary, I'm spending the next week paying attention to my girl and re-discovering what amuses her mind.  It was after all, a great mind, one who did not attend a factory-model school, who said this:

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” - Plato

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