A few weeks ago, I had a photography adventure in the bush with my girls. We had a wonderful afternoon strolling along the bush track with our cameras, and when we returned, I pondered:
Should I plan a special lesson about how cameras work, or how the eye works, or the history of cameras or how light works or…? No! That would kill the girls’ interest in photography dead. I am sure the girls will ask questions or look things up for themselves, all in their own time.
Well, I am so excited. It happened! Last night, Sophie said, “Mum can I learn about the human body, please?”
I remembered there was a book on the shelf called The Body Book. It contains “easy-to-make hands–on-models that teach.” I passed the book to Sophie and left her flipping through it while I dashed out the door to a meeting.
This morning Sophie said, “I think I’ll make a model of the eye.”
Sophie and Gemma-Rose are sitting at the table in front of me, in the family room. They are cutting and sticking and colouring, and slowly a very impressive paper model of the eye is coming into existence. Occasionally, I answer a construction-type question but basically the girls are working on their own. And enjoying themselves.
Nineteen year old Callum appears: “I remember making one of those!” He smiles at the memory.
I am glad I didn’t plan out an eye lesson. This is working out so much better. It’s self-motivated learning, learning that belongs entirely to the girls. Their faces tell the story: looks of great satisfaction appear as their ‘eyes’ take shape.
But how confident was that prediction? Did I say, “I am sure the girls will ask questions or look things up for themselves, all in their own time,” with slightly more confidence that I felt? I’m not telling!
Why should we have doubts that children will learn without someone prodding them along? Children are curious about everything. It’s not surprising that Sophie eventually started to think about the eye and wondered how it might work.Still… It’s wonderful to see self-directed learning in action… and I am still very excited!