Saturday, August 04, 2007

Teaching moments

Without my meaning to, O and I seem to have picked up the habit of teacher/learner-style interactions. I'm not entirely certain where the impetus comes from, but my feeling is that it's from him. I'm running with it (though trying to avoid being too teachery - rereading How Children Learn at the moment).

O is really into facts. He loves geographical stuff, placenames, where people live, looking at maps, his globe, and so on. His obsession with farms and animals has given way to an equally intense interest in trains (thanks, Thomas and Friends). He asks questions constantly when we're reading, and just randomly when things occur to him. I think he's realised (a) that there's an awful lot of interesting information out there, and (b) that one of the most efficient means of accessing it is to ask us. "Look it up on the Internet!" he's taken to saying.

So, in the past couple of days, I've looked up beavers (carefully!), planets, "do pigs have chins?" and "what do mice eat?" (he wasn't at all interested in the results of the first two searches, I think because too much time elapsed between his request and the first opportunity to get to a computer). At bedtime tonight I agreed that we'd look up hot air balloons tomorrow, and possibly Mount Rushmore as well. (We were being the stone faces of George Washington (him) and Thomas Jefferson (me) at the time. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.)

It's not all one-way information. Yesterday we had a discussion at dinner about the distinction between pasta and noodles, during which we found Italy and east Asia on the globe. Regarding Asia, and how far away it is from Ireland, he remarked, "Aeroplanes can fly anywhere, so you could use an aeroplane to go there."

I think I'm recording this because it seems to be a new phase, and one that's closer to what the mainstream might think of as "learning" than most of what's gone before. I can see the shape of an unschooling life more clearly from here.

It looks good to me.

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