Monday, September 03, 2012

Common Misconceptions About How Kids Learn.

September’s here again. Glorious, vibrant month!  September: tinged with nostalgia at the passing of another summer. The weather starts to cool down, the woods are alight with leaves turning, the city gets down to business and what do we do? We smother it with school. What a squander.
But since we will insist on packing them off to school, it’s worth taking a look at common misconceptions about how children learn. And here they are:
1. Kids must learn socialization from other kids.

Do we really believe that socializing children to the ways of our world is best left to those youngest, most immature of our society--their peers?  Do we really think that a child, who is surrounded by people in his /her family and community, is not being properly socialized?

2. Learning must be drilled into kids otherwise they would want to hang out all day, playing video games for the rest of their lives.

Have you watched young children trying to learn something new? The energy, the determination the focus they bring to the task is astounding.  They’ll give you hell if you get in their way or try to stop them, or do it for them.  Learning is natural to humans. 'First do no harm' should be the going motto for every parent, school teacher etc.

3. Kids want to grow up to be stupid and lazy so we have to force them into learning.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard any kid say, “When I grew up I want to be a bum.” No. They want to grow up competent, confident, contributing members to society. Let’s help them get there by respecting what it is they want to do.

4. Education can only take place guided by curriculum. And deviation from the curriculum is a strike against the learner and that learning is irrelevant (because it is not government approved or because you should learn it in grade 10 not grade 6, or you should have learned it in grade 6 not in grade 10).

The belief that we need a prescribed list of what we must know, followed in a precise order is fraudulent. Kids are natural learners; they want to learn--at their own pace.

5. You don’t know something unless you prove it by passing a test--at which point you know it.

 And then don’t know it anymore because you only studied it for the test and promptly forgot it.

6. The curriculum is law forever and ever.

Until someone challenges it.

7. Kids must learn how to deal with bullying and knocks to their self-esteem so that they can go out into the world and as grown-ups, endure the bullying of their bosses/spouses/neighbors etc.

Raising children in a respectful environment makes them more resilient when the knocks inevitably come around because they would have learned self respect and self love. A sage once said, in a world that is insane the best thing for a child is for the adults around her to be sane.

8. Experiences kids gain at school are better and more valuable than those experiences gained anywhere else.

The prom. The locker. The boredom.The cafeteria. The gym. Yeah, but I’ll pass any day for the cafĂ©, for the open market, the used book store, the university lecture hall, the swimming pool, the art gallery, the library, the community, the open trail,……..

9. Learning happens in bit size pieces.
Maybe so. In my experience, learning happens in great, hunking gulps.


Jennifer said...

Autumn is my yearly delight. I feel so alive and energetic. To "smother it with school" as you state, is a tragedy. Yet I think part of my love for autumn was the anticipation of "what's next" that came with the start of school. I was an optimist that This Year, This Class would fulfill me. As it turns out, the love of learning didn't go away even when school did.

I would not return to those days except to home school. That would have been awesome; so that's what I'm doing for my own.

rfs said...

@ Jen-school definitely sets the pace for how we experience autumn; anticipation, renewed zest etc. Gives me something to think about- for another post. Thanks!

Lainie Liberti said...

So true.. and you didn't even touch on curriculum offered in schools. Thank you for the reminder.

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