We are learning about space. Imagining whats our there, trying to conceive how big the universe really is, how little we are and really know. The one thing i have noticed the most since coming here, is the stars. Rarely in life, did i look up. Now i can’t help but not. Here in this wide open space, the stillness of night brings a peace i have never known before. The black skies are free from impeding suburban lights and are now dark and mysterious and filled with such a magnitude of stars. It reminds me how small this moment is, how we are just circling around and around again in life. Children love the mystery, they are more open to mystical theories and stories around life, worlds and gods innocently holding notions that anything is plausible. Rationality has yet to taint their thinking. They are yet to be corrupted by the rules of the way things are said to be. I don’t want to play that role in their lives. I want their hearts, minds and souls to remain wide open to the extraordinary mystery of this world, of their lives. I want them to believe the believable truth that anything is possible. Because who has the right to say it’s not. Our children are more awake, than ever before. Old ways of parenting and teaching children will never work on these new generations, they know too much, they won’t be dictated to, just because we believe we are older and wiser, if that really means anything anyway. We need to come to children on the level of respect that we wish them to come to us with. My three-year old will allow nothing to be done for her. She will master everything with her determination even if it means kicking and screaming through the frustration of trying. We all listen, usually horrified at the rage that can erupt in her tiny body, but she is adamant on allowing no help. So we let her go, raging and all and eventually she always succeeds in her endeavours. I cannot imagine her learning way would be seen as socially acceptable in a school environment, yet she is very much learning, in a very loud and often obtrusive way. She has not learnt this from people around her, she hasn’t been role modelled this reactive behaviour, it is simply uniquely her, innately born way. If i was to try to stop or halter her or give her the impression that it is unacceptable to voice her frustration in trying so hard, then i am hindering her voice, her determination, her powerful innate drive to succeed at what ever she sets her mind to. I won’t play that role for my children. I won’t be the one to tell them that they can’t do something because it seems too hard or implausible. And it wont bother me if she kicks and screams her way through life, at least i know she won’t succumb to being silenced easily.
Asperger would often just sit with the children, reading poetry and stories to them from his favourite books. “I don’t want to simply ‘push from the outside’ and give instructions, observing cooly and with detachment,” he said ” Rather, I want to play and talk with the child , all the while looking with open eyes both into the child and into myself, observing the emotions that arise in reaction to everything that occurs in the conversation between the two of us.”
-NeuroTribes, Steve Silberman
This is how i want my children to learn, i want to be the observer not the dictator to their curious and instinctual minds. I want to watch what they are drawn to, and where they take themselves naturally when provided the space, opportunity and environment to do so. I don’t want them ever to become accustomed to what is perceived as normal or abnormal about themselves in a class room, by the opinions that are deciding where they sit on some grand scale of intellectual competence. Children are loosing their natural flow. They are being denied the access to learn by instinctively following from their own interests, a naturally occurring process that is inherent to everyone. There is no room for individual self-directed learning anymore. Instead they are being shaped and moulded, and filled with information about things that are meant to support them in their lives, but really have nothing to do with their life at all. By the time they are reaching high school it’s all but gone. Thats when it really becomes prevalent to what is happening. It is then that they too begin to realise the sad truth of how little they matter in the system, how small their voices are, unless of course they have an exceptional skill that can offer some personal gain to the school. It becomes entirely about working hard, retaining the masses of information, memorizing as opposed to learning, endless testing and our children tirelessly keeping pace, trying to prove themselves over and over again. It is about them illogically having to have their whole life plan set out before them, at the tender age of sixteen. This is not the learning we are striving for. The learning we strive for is one that doesn’t require forcing information upon them with the expectation that they retain it and then perform it back in some way, as proof of a job well done. My children are learning to count, I know this. I hear them practicing all the time, for their own pleasure. I have also watched them refuse to count on demand or worse feel so under pressure, to prove themselves that they simply can’t. Testing children is much the same. It fills them with dread, panic and insecurity, and really is no way to conclude where a child’s level of understanding is really at. Testing children in this country in the educational systems is out of control. We test everything, even how fast they can run, in ‘beep tests’. This has nothing to do with nurturing the physical health of our children, or guiding them towards naturally being aware of how to take care of their own bodies, and everything to do with competition and adequacy verses inadequacy. Never before in our history has the pressure to perform been so rampant, you have to wonder how much learning is actually taking place. We are living in a time where we are now recognising the expansive neurological diversity amongst ourselves, more than ever before, and the educational options to cater for the diversity in our children’s differences is few. Parents are wanting a new approach, they are wanting individual learning styles for their children as they are uniquely learning individuals. They are recognising that many children cannot learn effectively in a traditional school environment anymore. With the number of children being diagnosed with learning differences it is inevitable that something will have to change. There is simply no one size fits all model that can be followed effectively anymore.