What does learning - or homeschooling - or unschooling have to do with nature or nature's healing? We're so programmed to think that learning is an activity that occurs only in a specific place - school - and in a specific way - through lecture instruction, text books, worksheets, and testing. This is one way to learn and for a select few kids it works great. I liked school as a kid - though looking back I realize that I liked it only because I liked learning; I realize I was bored much of my time at school and could have learned far more outside of school had I not had it fixed in my head that learning = school. Organic learning is learning in the way nature intended, the way we're evolutionarily hardwired to learn. It's hand's on. It's passion driven. It's trusting of the child's drive and ability to learn. It's respectful of the child's abilities and interests. It's inseparable from everyday life. It's immersed in everyday life. It's endlessly fun! We love it!
Let's think about it..... we as human beings are hard-wired to learn. A baby's keen observations and drive to explore everything in sight with all 5 senses; a toddler's incessant "why" and a preschooler's questions about everything are all evidence of an ingrained drive to learn. In 5 short years children learn to crawl, walk, master a language, learn to navigate the world around them, learn to name almost everything in sight, learn to dress themselves, learn to feed themselves, learn to navigate a wide variety of social situations, learn to tie their shoes, maybe even learn to climb trees, ride bikes, swim, and more! And the vast majority of this learning occurs with no formal instruction, no textbooks, no tests - just immersion in life.
Most children begin school excited to continue learning. Yet somewhere in those first few years of school, many children lose their curiosity. This is not because we have bad teachers. I highly respect the many wonderful teachers working in what I consider a broken system to deliver the best possible education to our nation's children. But yes, I do see the system as broken. In a few short years most of those once excited kindergartener's see "learning" as negative, equate it with a school activity, and - if given the choice - would rather stay home than go to school. I saw this in one of my recent PPA sessions where the kids all started talking about how they wished they didn't have to go to school "but you have to because it's the only way to go to college and get a job." I don't for a second agree with this. But no worries. I'll write my blog about homeschooling, but I won't indoctrinate your children on it ;) I kept my mouth shut....
Developmental psychology and educational research both show us that the single most important activity for young children is PLAY - not early academics. It shows that early academics are detrimental to long-term learning and scholastic success. It shows that children learn best not by textbooks and worksheets but by immersion in REAL LIFE EXPERIENCES. It shows that children learn best not when following a compulsory curriculum of what they "should" know at certain ages but following their own innately curious passions. It also shows few children have time - or energy - to follow their passions fully when immersed in an artificial learning environment that takes up 6 hours per day - plus commute time plus homework time. It shows that testing is not an accurate measurement or the best measurement of what children know. Combine all of this with the fact that our current educational system operates in a manner that is conducive primarily to just one learning style - the kid who excels at reading and writing - while there are in fact MANY learning styles and ways of learning. John Gardner, Harvard educational psychologist, lists many of these and I'll write more about them later.
So this is why I'm passionate about organic learning - learning that is driven by a child's inborn curiosity and passions.
So in our house learning never stops. We don't really have first day of school and last day of school. Learning=life=learning. And it's all very natural and very exciting!
Some folks worry about how traditional subjects can be covered in this manner, so I'll be posting some "All in a day's organic learning" posts so people can see just how much learning we cover through everyday life. This life=learning is also called "unschooling" by many. I don't qualify as a true unschooler in some books because I do keep track of "subjects" partly for my own academic interest, party because NY requires it.
So just today.... And as you can see, in "organic learning" subject lines are super intertwined!
English Lang Arts - reading a 2nd book about pirates; spelling names of clouds; classic lit story Mutiny on the Bounty
Science - Minecraft homeschool science camp reading and quiz on magnetism; made 4 main types of clouds on construction paper with cotton balls and put them in her room so she could see them and remember them; listened to 1.5 herb fairy audio books learning all about lemon balm and chamomile
Social Studies - I started reading Mutiny on the Bounty to her; she's reading a historical fiction book about pirates
Math - continual adding/subtracting figuring out what - if anything - she wanted to purchase with her $15
Health - excitedly reading/learning about making raw Asian inspired cuisine with me; listening to her body to choose lunch (gluten free quiche)
Life skills - shopped for her lunch; ordered takeout herself; took my debit card and went and paid for it; returned my card to me as I finished shopping and went to the store cafe to eat and wait for me