Friday, July 27, 2007


I found this thread on MDC and it really gave me some reassurance. I'm not really in a period of doubting our choice of avoiding curriculum.. I wholeheartedly maintain that a curriculum would be a huge waste of time and money for us. But I do get worried sometimes about what children in school are learning that my children are not, and the following quote, by Lillian J, should serve to reassure me. She is responding to a woman who worries that her seven-year-old son isn't renacting the Boston Tea Party, writing plays in Latin, or any of that stuff.

It would be rather unusual for children as young as yours to want to pursue learning things as much as you'd like to see. Any of that can and probably will) be learned later. They want to play because that's the stage of life they're in - it's perfectly natural. And is there really any real reason for them to know all that much at this point in their lives about those various things other than making you feel that something is going on educationally? You might ask yourself exactly what it is that you're wanting them to know more about - and why - and whether there's any real reason why they should know it now rather than 2 or 5 or 10 years from now...or ever. If they suddenly got fascinated with insects, for instance, and they wanted read about them, draw them, put on plays about them, etc., would they really grow up being particularly educated about insects, or would it be a vague memory of some fun thing they did when they were little? And wouldn't they really have to study them afresh in order to be really educated about them? And what would it matter? What if their real interests end up being in very different directions? Architecture or music or physics? Would it make a bit of difference that they'd done a unit on insects when they were under eight years old? It seems as it you're doing lots of interesting things with them, and that's what matters - you're keeping the input and inspiration wafting through their lives.

It's not as if I don't think learning and education is important - but I think childhood has its own very important fruits that need to be cultivated.

You wrote "It's not that I don't think he's learning. I know they are all learning. I just get hit with feelings that they - my oldest especially - could be learning more." But why do such young children need to lean so much about things that aren't even a part of their lives yet? What good is that knowledge going to be to them at this point? The play, on the other hand, is vitally important and is building their imaginations to function all the better when true learning about those things is more appropriate. Lots of people complain that they're children whining about being bored and not having anything to do - but yours seem to be happily engaged, and that seems significant to me. That sounds great. They've got many years ahead of them to be learning - in much deeper and broader ways - about the things you're feeling they should be learning now.

Makes perfect sense to me. What on earth would Colwyn do with knowledge about Columbus or about the Mayflower?



At 6:55 AM, Blogger Jen said...

beyond hitting obvious goals like letter, numbers, colors.. who cares how old they are when they learn about the boston tea party?

I am pushing reading and early reading skills b/c that is what is important to me. I use my own curriculum and my only thing planned is our letter/number/shapes of the week (the kids really like it. Its funny when they point out the letter of the week at the supermarket or when we are reading).

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

I don't know.. I'm not even all that fussed about letters and numbers yet. Colwyn's picking them up on his own, from things like wanting to type out "Hi" on AIM to Doug when he's at work, stuff like that. So long as he's *able* to learn them, I'm not really all that worried if he does or not at this stage. Everything he's interested in reading I'd want to read with him anyway, for the fun of it.. so it's not like he has a practical need to know letters and numbers yet.. especially numbers. It's not like he's out shopping by himself, or balancing a checkbook.

But if a kid wants to know that stuff, obviously, they should be taught. It's all about the kids.. or it should be, anyway.


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