Part of AmyK’s comment on last weekend’s open thread:
Thanks for the wonderful quote! i believe this so much yet find myself constantly trying to create more “school” type lessons at home and it is not working. My daughter has been struggling with the very school-ish stuff all year yet when she is busy and involved with a project like making a robot or making crafts out of a book she chose or playing outside making a mud-maker invention, she’s so “industrious” and curious and “taking pride in work well done.” Meanwhile with the schoolish things, she complains and hates it and doesn’t take care with it and we get in big power struggles and we’re both miserable.
We’ve been talking about starting with a project and pretty much just doing math and project work after we get back from the trip we’re about to go on. She looks excited and relieved and honestly I feel relieved too. I am hopeful that we will move in a positive direction now getting into what I think we both want but I’ve been a little afraid to let go and let happen.
School-type lessons vs. projects … it’s funny, isn’t it, how we are so used to “lessons” looking a certain way — knowledge acquisition in the form of Q&A, fill-in-the-blanks, boldface terms, quizzes, tests, etc., that when we see it in its natural state, presented holistically, we feel uncertain.
They will work energetically to construct knowledge — to add bits of information and knowledge together and make something that is bound together with meaning.
They will strive to tease apart the strands of knowledge from a complex subject or idea.
They will eagerly acquire and hone skills in order to express their own ideas.
But so often, we don’t give them something whole to work with. We give them broken bits and expect them to concentrate, memorize, repeat back — even though those bits don’t have meaning. They don’t make sense. (And I mean that in the deepest sense of the phrase — they do not create real understanding.) And they are swiftly forgotten.
Because we learned this way, we tend to think of it as “real” education, “real” learning — the schoolish way. Because the other way is too particular, too slow, too narrow, too enjoyable.
Because the adult is supposed to say “jump!”, and the child is supposed to say “how high?”
We need to think hard about how we really learn best ourselves, and we need to at least experiment with letting children learn something holistically — giving them something whole, something filled with sense and meaning, and letting them learn their way to real knowledge.
Also see: Holistic Learning, Continued