Friday, July 28, 2006

Not Teaching

I mentioned earlier today that I was talking to my mother about not teaching. Apparently a number of teachers believe that teaching itself doesn't work in small groups - that the class size is important to create the class dynamic. I assume, on the basis of no information whatsoever, that this means that in teaching college they are taught to deal with groups of children of a certain size in a specific way, and the size of group never drops below a norm of some kind.

But it seems trivially obvious to me that in general, more teaching and learning will happen in a situation that allows for a lot of individual variation, individual attention, and individual autonomy on the part of the educatee (assuming that education is something done to or for children by adults, which is a common enough assumption).

Certainly Linnea has learned more about several Core Subjects as written about by nursery staff in the tiny tots' report books ("Today Jemima had three dirty and seventeen wet nappies, learned to hold her own spoon, and enjoyed gluing sequins to her ears" etc) than her peers in nurseries with qualified childcare practitioners. And I haven't taught her a damn thing, as far as I know.

I mean, I know I taught her to speak - that's what talking to children does. So her vocabulary is largely down to me, since I'm the person who speaks to her the most. And I assume I taught her to count; certainly I remember the day she asked me to count the numbers larger than ten, using the men on the back of a Mister Men book to illustrate. Presumably I also taught her her colours. But I never taught her to mix colours, and she has been doing that for ages now, especially making orange and green from the primary colours. I never taught her to string beads, or to recite her reading books, or to whisk an egg, all of which she does very competently.

Today she washed a window, including using the black rubber scrapy thing to scrape the foam off.

Surely there's nothing to be gained by teaching her anything? I can't imagine how one could even accelerate a learning process that appears to be rattling along fast enough to raise steam from the tracks as it is.

I'll leave well enough alone, I think.


flybabydizzy said...

You are teaching her. You will continue to teach her. What you are NOT doing, (IMIO) is schooling her.

Daphne said...

We never taught Emily to read, but she just learned from being read to because she realised that here was a gateway to something really interesting. That's what's wrong with the everyday dullness of schools. What I remember most about primary school was being bored and that's really wrong.

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