Sunday, July 29, 2012
Will We Let Our Children "Learn Like an 8 Month Old"
I have been spending the weekend with my 8 month old grand daughter Gabriela and it's been a revelation. Every part of Gabriela is in constant motion. She crawls, rolls over, stands up, claps her hands and is right on the verge of walking.. She has endless curiosity about objects. She picks them up, tears them, throws them, and puts them in her mouth, all the while making noises that sound more and more like words. Learning for Gabriela, is constant and is an immensely physical process, sometimes bringing her frustration, sometimes bringing her joy, but always keeping her stimulated. The purity of her quest of knowledge is awe inspiring and elemental. Yet is was also, in the light of dominant trends in education in the US, profoundly depressing. More and more, what educational reformers are doing, is making children spend their entire day in school sitting still preparing from tests which require uniform responses. The natural processes through which children learn, which are profoundly physical, are being suppressed, not only taking all the joy our of our classroom, but inhibiting the kind of self discovery that goes to the core of a child's being. Children of all ages need to touch things, take them apart, throw them, and imagine new uses for them. They need to explore how their bodies work, and make lots of noise. That is why schools which take away sports, and gym, and arts and music and hand on science to turn learning into pure memorization are injuring young people for life. They are quite literally committing a crime against the nation's children.