Monday, September 14, 2009

When does learning happen?

One of my favourite books in Learning all the time, by John Holt. Here he relates accounts of how children learn from everyday life, and how that delight in learning is conditioned out of them at school. I have been privileged to observe this learning process in my son, James, who will be 3 in November.
James is now of the age where we are being asked" When does he start preschool?" every time we are out. It gets wearisome, butI don't really want to get into the intricacies of our family life with the woman from the corner shop, or the bus driver, so, for now I just answer - "He's only 2!".
But he will not be going to pre-school or nursery. He will be continuing this marvellous expansion of his learning at home, directed by his own needs, interests and desires.
Today, learning happened at 5.30 am, when he just had to get up and play some game with his diggers and trucks. Fortunately, my husband volunteered to get up with him, and when he brought me a cup of tea, he commented on how he could almost see the neurons firing in James's brain - he was full of it. Talking his game out loud in long, complex, sentences, he was obviously working something out that had been on his mind.

I took over at 7.30, and the learning continued. We read a couple of comics - Roary the Racing Car. We made a cut-out tool box from the magazine, and then played a complicated game of fixing cars and buses - the sofa cushions being the cars. All this was entirely instigated and directed by James - I was there purely as a facilitator and gofer - it was such fun too!

The whole day has been like this. One learning event after another. Going to the DIY store with Dad, coming home and making a seesaw with bits of wood, making his own sandwich for lunch, playing the piano and singing along to his own tune, helping make dinner, picking plums, dividing pastry for the pie, using the leftover paste to make yet another birthday cake, singing all the words of Happy Birthday - all these activities were a small part of his own agenda for the day.
He is still going now, I hear him pretending to be a snake "I'm gonna eat oo Dad"

Now, thankfully, a 5 am - 10 pm full on day is relatively unusual here, but sometimes it happens. If we were shackled to other timetables, this day would have been so different, so I am truly fortunate that we have that freedom. I imagine how stressed I would be by such an early start. I might have lost my temper and shouted; harassed and nagged everyone into getting ready for work and school, cutting short any play or fun. "No time, no time!", in the rush to be out the door, far too soon. James would not have had the opportunity to do all the things he did today, unless he was at home. No-one would have played with him for hours on the living room floor, in just the way he wanted to, or let him help cut mushrooms for the risotto that he asked me to make for dinner. He might have come home, tired, clutching a piece of paper with blue paint slapped on it as evidence of his creativity, but would he have been told to be quiet when he began to play the piano and sing joyously as he did after tea today? Would he have been laughed at or ridiculed for playing with his Barbie campervan - organising a trip to the beach for some of his toys?Would he have been able to do these things anyway, or might he have been told to do some other box ticking activity instead? I do not want to endanger his gentle unfolding in any way by subjecting him to the shoulds and should nots of this society and certainly not by it's clock.

Instead, we were able to forget time and just go with the flow. It was only place to be. Seventeen hours of present moments - learning all the time.

Please visit Debs at Muddy Bare Feet, who is hosting Home Education Blog Carnival today for International Freedom in Education Day. There are so many inspirational posts there, much more coherent than this sleep deprived one. Night Night!


sunnymama said...

What a lovely post! James is a lucky boy to have such a wise mother. :)

Sunnyboy just had to get up at around 5am and paint a picture of a bridge the other morning! He did have an early night at the end of that day though. :)

Dawn said...

I love the picture of him at the piano, wish I had the space for my old piano. I remember I used to play on my Nan's piano (which I then was given) at that age, and used to ask to learn to play - eventually had lessons when I was about 6 and could reach and stretch to play properly.

Joxy said...

Oh this is lovely, thank you for sharing your day Jacqui.

I too really like the photo of him at the piano :)


Se'Lah said...

what a lovely post.

that photo is so endearing.

sue said...

What a gorgeous post, I really love reading your wonderful blog, thanks for sharing :). Charlie is 3 at the end of October and I just love every second of being mama to such a wonderful boy....are'nt we lucky mummys xx