Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From Drudgery to Discovery

My automatic way of thinking about learning is that it is hard and tedious. Especially to kids. Most likely, I am going to get resistance from them to try something new or they will give up quickly. Kids are "just like that" I think...

As I watch my son in his 5th piano lesson, I marvel at how quickly his little fingers move and how fast his brain memorizes the keys to play. The teacher shows him something once or twice and he has it down. He is using two hands now, already working on harmony and chords. He skipped the first 25 pages of the workbook and plays everyday, more times than I can count. I wake up to the theme songs to Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars. He will be playing with his brothers and then suddenly he runs off and is playing a song or two. Then he comes back to play. He is exhibiting what I think the brain most wants to do when learning something new...repeat it several times a day until it can recall it with ease...and then move on to something new. He has fun, is proud and looks forward to his next lesson.

I am so glad I was so WRONG about this! I wonder what else I might be wrong about?
I wonder what I haven't tried to learn because my idea that it is going to be hard stops me...foreign languages, advanced art skills, herbal healing. I would love to learn more everyday and often just don't. Then I wonder about what else I might be hesitant in having my kids learn because I think it will be tedious for them. I remember my father sitting me down and quizzing me in math facts or spelling for what seemed like hours. I couldn't stop yawning. So I resist doing that with my kids...and one of them could really use the support. What would it be like to make math facts fun? Use chocolate chips to subtract and add with? Do math facts as we are doing jumping jacks? Make art with math? What might he learn, ,and gain in confidence if he can see that learning is fun in this area too?

And what if one of my sons is secretly talented in something I think is too hard? I wonder what it might be?
My ideas of learning are obviously impact my life an my kid's life. There is so much more available to us if I let go of these old ideas and create.

Tonight after a rare excursion out to eat at a restaurant, to celebrate Bronson, our 3 year old, learning how to swim from my friend's 8 year old daughter, I noticed that my two eldest had a blast filling out the math puzzles on their placemat. Children naturally WANT to learn. It is naturally fun for them and they are proud of it. They show me their accomplishments with glee. I realize that although they learn much with my guidance, manners, how to paint, sew, build a campfire, fold laundry, countries around the world and how to eat healthy, they also learn much without me, sometimes even better without me. If I were telling Bodee to practice piano he would probably decide it's a drudgery and resist it. If I had told Bronson he was going to learn to swim today, he probably would have cried and clung to me. Sometimes taking ME out of the equation equals less of what I want for them and more of what they didn't even know they wanted. Sometimes children need to be away from their safety net to fly, be released from a schedule to dive into what they want, when they want. The space for them to want to learn makes the learning fun... and creates discovery.

So I wonder what new things my children and I will discover today?
What have you wanted to discover?

Zen Honeycutt

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