Playing with the world

Published by Lori Pickert on September 30, 2011 at 07:19 PM

[W]hy do children seem to lose [their] innate curiosity as they grow older? After all, the very same toddlers who experiment with ease on their toys end up detesting chemistry class in high school. Although the world is still full of mystery, we stop investigating it.

When we explain things to kids, we shouldn’t pretend that we have all the answers. We shouldn’t turn science class into a dry recitation of facts that must be memorized, or only conduct experiments in the classroom in which the results are known in advance. Because it’s the not knowing — that tang of doubt and possibility — that keeps us playing with the world, eager to figure out how it works. — Wired: Every Child Is a Scientist

Over and over again I hear, “How can you homeschool your children — especially for high school? You can’t possibly know everything you need to teach them.” How boring the world must be for children who always have an adult standing between them and what they want to learn, filtering their knowledge. They’re handed a dry biscuit of facts, no side of mystery. No tang of doubt and possibility.

Homeschooling obviously doesn’t require being an expert in everything your child needs or wants to learn. It just means inviting them to your side of the desk and showing them how to learn what they want to know. It means sharing the mystery, the doubt, the possibility, the play.



Comment by nancy on September 30, 2011 at 07:48 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with the quote and with your words.

"It means sharing the mystery, the doubt, the possibility, the play." these words make me think about how much fun we can have.

thanks for sharing, I'm always encouraged when i visit here!!

Comment by Cristina on October 2, 2011 at 03:33 AM

Yes! Yes! Yes! One of my favorite things to say to the kids is that I don't know everything, but I do know how to look for answers, and that is what I want to help them learn.

And some of our best experiments were the ones that didn't come out the way they were supposed to. ;-)

Peace and Laughter!

Comment by Tammy on October 3, 2011 at 12:48 AM

This is a wonderful way to look at the process of learning. Loved the "dry biscuit of facts, no side of mystery." Happy Sunday.

Comment by shelli on October 4, 2011 at 09:12 PM

Yes, exactly! One thing I got out of writing those columns about your blog that has really stuck with me was how you said it's not what they learn so much as teaching them where to look for answers. Love it.

Comment by kelly on October 5, 2011 at 09:40 PM

Today my seven year old spent hours playing with three wooden cotton reels and fishing wire. He made levers, pulleys, a ski lift and alot of mistakes. I could have intervened, and told him how he could improve his model, instead I did only what was asked (which was to hook the wire up to an old picture hook). He learnt through trial and error. By the end he was setting it up and racing the reel to the end.

A great experience....until I ran to answer the phone and tripped over the wire!

Comment by Teri on October 6, 2011 at 02:03 PM

Excellent post!!!

Comment by patricia on October 7, 2011 at 02:20 PM

"It just means inviting them to your side of the desk and showing them how to learn what they want to know."

What a lovely, lovely metaphor. I think I'll squirrel that one away!

Comment by leanne on October 12, 2011 at 05:26 AM

Thanks for posting it. This was send to me by a friend. I loved this. Particularly your final comment.

Comment by Jen on October 16, 2011 at 01:58 AM

I teach college composition. It's amazing how much students want spelled out. When given an assignment they want each part of the assignment given with rules, black-and-white objectives, clear, easy terms that don't require thinking, etc. They are genuinely scared when something requires them to think, make a decision or formulate an opinion with evidence to back it up. Occasionally I will tell them to write about a topic of their choice. Each time I receive blank stares and students who ask me for topic suggestions.
It is frightening to think that we are raising generations of students who want to be told what to think. Very few of my students would put up a fight if I told them what to believe or how they should think.

Comment by amanda on August 23, 2013 at 01:41 PM

i am going to start sharing this post with all the doubters that wonder what i'm doing (and most importantly, what i'm doing to my kids).

Comment by Lori Pickert on August 23, 2013 at 02:57 PM


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