There is quite likely no substitute for the experience of feeling empowered . . . if we hope for children to pursue learning enthusiastically within the structure of a classroom or a school. Learning and power are inextricably linked.
We have opted not to create schools as places where children’s curiosity, sensory awareness, power, and communication can flourish, but rather to erect temples of knowledge where we sit them down, tell them a lot of stuff we think is important, try to control their restless curiosity, and test them to see how well they’ve listened to us.
The place we call school or college, which should be our society’s most vital promoter of learning, too often instead creates the field on which we learn to play a game that demoralizes us even when we are winners (and can permanently scar us when we lose). In the daily course of attending school, as they do what their teachers ask and strive to earn good grades, our children unknowingly substitute lesser goals for an invaluable goal they were born with: the pursuit of learning for its own sake.
There is a simple test we can perform to find out whether or not our children are truly learning. We can ask them, not the usual question, “How was school today, Honey?” or “What did she teach you in your math class?” but rather, “Did you learn anything in school today that you really want to know more about?” If the answer is … usually no, you have cause for worry - even if your child brings home a good report card.
Far too much of the time our children spend in school is wasted ... Most of what they experience during school hours passes over them like the shadow of a cloud, or through them like an undigested seed. They may be present in the classroom, but they are not really there. Their pencils may be chugging away on the worksheets or the writing prompts or math problems laid out for them, but their intelligence is running on two cylinders at best. They pay some attention to what their teacher happens to be telling them, but their imagination has moved elsewhere... And, worst of all, by the time our kids have reached fourth or fifth grade, they think what they are experiencing in school is normal.
Amid all the accounts … of kids complaining to each other about how bored they are with many of their classes, why do we accept this so passively, without arguing for the right to be learning something of value.Part of me says this is too harsh - that the author is not taking into account the myriad of difficulties we face. On the other hand, he points some things out from the view of the child - whose learning needs should be met regardless of our difficulties. It has got me thinking. I think I will pick up a copy.