School Day Of The Future – Salman Khan… this guy needs to be knighted !
WHAT IS WRONG WITH BEING WRONG?
Take a minute to to think about the word ‘Wrong’. .. How do you feel about it? Does it make you feel good? What do our children feel about being ‘wrong’, What is being ‘wrong’? Does being wrong need to be wrong….. NO!
Lets make wrong right! Consider for a moment how you felt about being wrong at school..I for one recall feeling inadequate at not knowing or having the wrong answer to a question..I felt it did not help to raise my confidence in my work nor within myself. I recall fearing to ask or speak my mind; not wanting to be put down for my enquiry.. fearing being wrong.. I would learn hard for a test and no matter if I got 30% or 90% the out come would be the same … what did you get wrong.. as time passed, fear of being wrong slowly smothered the inbuilt need to explore information and knowledge and it was only after school that my spark for knowledge began to burn again..
“ In his 1964 book, How Children Fail, Teacher John Holt un-reeled a series of classroom anecdotes to show that children—beset by teacher-imposed fear, confusion and boredom—merely grope for right answers, rather than understand. In a sequel, How Children Learn, to be published next month, he illustrates the spontaneous ways in which kids embrace knowledge before they enter schools, where they “learn to be stupid.” ” Read More…
School was supposed to ignite my appetite for learning but all it did for me was drive me to hibernate for fear of not being good enough.. for fear of being wrong.. When ever we were presented with information to learn and a test .. my reaction was … OH NOOOOO… Surly there is something fundamentally flawed with this reaction… With being presented with new information and the opportunity to learn would you not expect an excitement to well up within… I fear that I am not the only one to feel this way and in speaking to many school going children this seems to be far from unusual. Less than half of school children feel inspired to go to school each day, school seems to be a place almost kin to punishment to most and to many others simply a place to develop social skills …..!!!???? This indicates to me that school as a whole is not doing a fantastic job at inspiring our children to want to be learners… I could spend much time on what I feel is wrong with the general schooling system; but lets instead look at what we wish to do to change this for our kids….
A little story Our 4 year old son was doing Edu-Peg interactive workbooks that enable learners to self correct with an answer board. Edu-peg encourages learning to evaluate, recognise and cope with problems. Develops concentration,perseverance, memory, self-confidence and self-esteem. Etc…..
To cut a long story short he brought me the answer board to show me how he had not gotten any answers wrong. Seeing the betraying look of dishonesty I asked him what he had done and managed to get it out of him that he had simply felt for the right answers instead of going back and seeing where is mistake lay and correcting it. This offered an opportunity to confront the issue of being ‘wrong’ I explained:
BEING WRONG IS NOT A BAD THING! BEING WRONG GIVES US THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN, PERSEVERE AND THINK. BEING WRONG IS THE WAY HUMANS LEARN.. WE MOSTLY DO THINGS WRONG BEFORE WE FIND THE RIGHT WAY…
We learn to walk by falling many times. I don’t know one person who has gotten onto a bicycle and ridden perfectly the first time around.
DOING SOMETHING INCORRECTLY IS A CLUE THAT INDICATES THAT WE NEED TO EXPLORE MORE TO FIND THE RIGHT WAY. . IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO THAT SHOWS US WHAT NEEDS MORE ATTENTION.
WRONG IS RIGHT BECAUSE IT OFFERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO KNOW MORE AND BECOME BETTER AND STRONGER AT WHAT WE ARE DOING!
In Praise of Failure “When it comes to failure, I’m trumped by Edison who famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Those 10,000 detours resulted in the Dictaphone, mimeograph, stock ticker, storage battery, carbon transmitter and his joint invention of the light bulb. In the end, 10,000 flops fade into insignificance alongside Edison’s 1,093 patents.” Read More…
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
A child offered stimulation to fill his intellect and more to expand his growth will never be naughty!! for he will be occupied and content with the self-satisfaction of personal success.. Now this seems to be a thread of Montessori.. interesting … and I can see it to be in line.. I must say that when I take the time.. and time and effort it does take to the point of feeling extremely stretched at times, I find that Khai focuses in on what he has taken to at the time and becomes .. as Montessori would put it ‘normal’ .. Lately I have not found him ‘normal’ just freaking hard work. but I would far rather have a extrovert busy child than an introvert and not be able to tell what is going on inside his head. So anyway, the hard work .. it would seem that he is going through a stage of pushing boundaries, of having so much going on in his little head that focusing on fulfilling simple tasks like get dressed or eat breakfast is a mammoth task.. BUT.. just when we think he is beyond controlling himself there seems within this chaos to be some kind of order assembling within the depths of his person trying to escape the child ..
Nico had taken Khai to the Natural History Museum in Cape Town, Nico observed that Khai had wanted him to read all the information plaques and seemed that Khai was frustrated with not being able to read the information for himself.
That afternoon Khai seem particularly our of hand and seemed erratic in his behavior. We ushered him off to bed earlier than usual putting his behavior down to over tired.. Khai offered Nico Phonics one book that I had gotten from the library but not read yet. As he was about to choose another book I said “ why don’t you read Daddy a story..” “Yes Yes! I will” And slowly word for word he began to read the letters sounding the words phonetically. It was so amazing to watch the penny drop and his little mind grasp the concept of reading .. and he was off.. sounding the word.. processing..desperately concentrating.. READING!
I had tears in my eyes.. how fortunate to have the time and for Nico and myself to have been there for this monumental leap toward his independence in learning and gaining information for himself thorough reading! … The triumph and joy when he had finished his book was out of this world.. leaping about shouting .. ‘ I can read, I can read!!!’
The Power of reading.. Montessori refers to this as an explosion into reading.. It is a great highlight in that kids learn in a different way to adults.. If they are ‘ready’ and allowed to follow intuitive steps they explode into reading… into learning.. “Reading begins early by tracing sandpaper letter and learning the phonetic sound of these letters. Children can handle objects that begin with these sounds. Reading starts out much more abstract that Math, but it involves a finite number of sounds to experience and memorize. Once these have been mastered a child can begin to build words with the moveable alphabet. This is more of a phonetic spelling activity than reading. By repeated experience with this sounding out of words, the child comes to the spontaneous discovery one day that this arrangement of symbols has meaning c-a-t translates into cat, the child has taught herself how to read. Now they begin to sound out all words around them, on signs, cereal boxes, anywhere. This “explosion” into reading is the culmination of all the language experiences. Since English is not a truly phonetic language we then present the “exceptions” such as the, ch, sh. The child now has the skills to attack any new words they come upon. This is one of the advantages of a phonetic approach to reading. Story writing and creative expressions are encouraged. Spelling is not corrected in the beginning of these activities. It is more important that the idea be expressed. Later, corrections can be made when the child has experienced success.”
Besides his activities at Old Cape Farm Montessori school (http://www.sweetnet.com/montessori/materials.htm). I usually do at least a page or two of his Early Learning Activity Books which can be obtained at C N A in South Africa.. here are some cool printable reading books… I guess when we are cruising we will use reading-tablets to keep all the books for the kids to read…
It is encouraging to know that when you feel there is little progress and even disorder that their little minds are expanding and reaching for meaning..
Little by little, one travels far. – JRR Tolkien
It is beautiful.. Khai Reading his 1st book – Video-
Behave! You in a mall…
OK, here is a big one for most of us parents out there… unruly child in a mall.. Once you sit down to process this it becomes quite apparent as to the cause, but absurdly only after some contemplation. We stand firm that our children should be obedient and conform to our demands of ‘do not touch’ ‘be quiet while I do this’ ‘don’t lie all over the floor’ and many more.. without due consideration of their mechanism to cope with their environment.. never mind their total inability to make sense of an environment so extremely bombarding of all their senses and holds very little relevance, if any at all, the their ‘world’ How often do we come out of a mall or the like and comment on how drained we feel, after all it is designed to overwhelm and stun our senses into consuming… and our errands of un-natural and annoying life-admin is incredibly draining, we can make sense of this environment and control it to a degree. As we have developed an understanding for the regulations and concepts of this type of environment we are able to act in it in a ‘ socially acceptable way’ We have developed coping mechanisms to be able to shut off to being bombarded with the information we find irrelevant around us…. and still we find ourselves feeling drained and over stimulated after some hours of senseless flashing lights and bright colours demanding our attention and unnecessary noise etc etc etc If we feel this way .. how must the child feel. This is the most un-natural environment one could possibly imagine. This is an environment that holds no real interest nor relevance for a child besides his addiction to sugar or disposable attraction to some toy that for one holds very little ‘real life’ interest and will in all probability be discarded in a few days for lack of real meaning in his life.. A child learns through touching, feeling, experiencing.. through interacting with his surrounds. In this environment he may not do anything and if he tries to explore he is shouted at and told not to interact when every single thing around him is demanding interaction.. It is very cruel to expect the child to behave to an adults standard in an environment even an adult finds overwhelming.. The child is not ‘naughty’ the adult is insensitive to the child and is setting the child up for failure in demanding and expecting him to ‘behave’ in an environment such as a mall and the like. We send Khai to a Montessori School, it holds a philosophy quite different to conventional schools. One of the trails of thought is to create an environment that supports the child’s inherent striving to learn and to make sense of the world he lives in.. an environment is set up so that the child can easily explore his curiosities, boundaries and abilities at a rate that suites his intuition. The space he is offered is set out so that everything is accessible and holds many activities that he may explore all angles of life from natural science, writing, reading, maths, creativeness and practical life skills and so on .Given the correct and complimentary environment to his size and cravings to learn and explore the child becomes self disciplined and motivated.. When a child can not process the world around him he becomes unruly.. if he is not able to use the information inflicted on his senses he has no outlet and unable to process properly and like sugar with its empty calories creates useless excess so does this over stimulation create unwanted behavior. Given the right environment with the right type and amount of information and activities to quench his thirst to understand the world he lives in, with information that inspires his mind and thoughts, we find we have perfectly obedient children that look up to older kids for inspiration, for as Montessori says: they see the future of their own future triumph. They do not hold jealousy for what others have for they feel it is attainable for themselves and offering help to the younger allows them to express the joys of what they themselves have learned. We have decided to make a more conscious effort not to inflict Khai and in time Arix to the useless bombardment of places like malls.. places where they can not involve themselves,places that force them to control themselves beyond what is natural for their developmental stage. Of course they need to be able to control themselves but expecting them to have such control that overwhelms even adults is unfair. We will try to split the task and should we be forced into the mundane pain of life-admin and shopping malls we will find a way of adopting ways to allow our boys to have activities that hold relevance to themselves and allow for building up rather than breaking down.. even if it means one dropping the other on the side of the road to explore a hedge or the breakwater next to a parking lot while the other deals with an incompetent, uninformed sales consultant about discrepancies on a mobile phone bill….
Snakes and Ladders
This morning started out a little strange, Malakhai was not feeling himself upon waking which resulted in is breakfast volcanoing out all over Nico.. dismal! But on the other had this gave Khai and I the opportunity for a bit of home-schooling practice.
There are a few things I have learned today and brought to the forefront of my mind….
One is that, from my perspective, in order to summon the patience to assist and direct Khai and Arix in time, I need to prepare my mind and manually gear my mind into a constructive head space.. it is really a no go zone to try to assist in learning while trying to do other things. . For me this does not work!
So having spent a large part of my morning trying to help Khai while on my own little mission while overseeing Malakhai doing his First Time Learning Activity book – from CNA for SA Parents- impatience and frustration took hold until I took Arix into my arms, plugged him in to feed and focused my attention on Khai.
Having offered my full attention to him I found myself captured by snakes and ladders.. What a great game for a 4 year old!! Until we took the game out I had not previously seen the extent of its advantage before. . Mmmm… well … numbers 1 to 100 … how perfect..as we started the game I realised its full benefit and immediately took advantage.
20 minutes prior to snakes and ladders Khai had not really grasped the real concept of 10; 20; 30; 40 ….We had been doing… ‘ count the turtles and circle the number, find the turtle sticker, now how many turtles are there all together.’ We had been working with numbers 1 to 20 but had never before worked with numbers above 20, besides our ‘spotting numbers game’ while driving around.
As we began our game he was not so keen on me pointing out the numbers at every move and just wanted to get on with the dice throwing and the counting his moves.. until I started saying.. iiiiimmmmm oonnnnnnnn number seeevventeeennn.. and proceeded with what number are you onnnnn… in one of those voices you only talk to your 4 year old in.
Soon he took up the spirit and became excited about the number he was on as well as the number of moves he had to make.. by the end of the game he had gotten the concept of 20; 30 ; 40; 50 …. after the game we counted the whole board through and I was amazed to see how well he had grasped the ’10s’. he was super excited to show Nico his new counting skill which he executed with surprising ability.. .
As we walk through a forest of trees we feel connected, we walk along a mountain path we feel part of, we belong, as we look out over the ever changing ocean we feel drawn.. after all we are 70% water ourselves.
We are the most incredible creation, unfathomably complex, delightfully able to expand and change, learn and experience. If we stop being self absorbed for a minute and take a look outside ourselves we will find that we are incredibly connected to everything around us.. We are part of the Earth and part of the universe.. we are deeply individual and yet so extremely interwoven with the universe around us. The same atoms and molecules that form our make_up form the universe at large..( Ask an astrophysicist) ( A Blog-The Trickledown)– we are undeniably connected to every living thing and all that is. I believe that to find our place within the world we live, we must have an understanding of this..We must offer our children explanations and connections between physics, chemistry, biology, geography, astronomy and so on… the connections between all things is vital in finding our place and rooting an understanding of ‘who I am’ and where I fit in.. feeling connected to the world around us allows us to feel partnered with it and opens up the desire to know more about all that ‘I am connected with‘.
Some of the points we will ensure to enforce while on this every day quest.. on a life long journey of understanding.. will be to offer our boys as much information presented in a way that is exciting and makes them feel ‘part of’.. we would like them to learn through experience. . We wish for them to build confidence in themselves and in being able to access information with the ability to compile it into a ‘usable’ framework that they may integrate it into their lives. …We are filling a tool box…
We offer them an environment that is rich with information, that is stimulating and awe inspiring.. Through this experiencing they learn.. not from sitting at a desk in an ugly walled environment-(article) like rows of sausages in sausage factory… surrounded by the smell of commercial floor cleaner and curtains your grandmother would cringe at the sight of!
The Universe is a place of exquisite beauty… how can we convince our kids that learning about the universe, people and the world we live in is insatiably exciting if we present this information in dreary environments and force information down their throats that they are not feeling drawn and inspired towards.
We need to find ways that help them to feel inspired to learn things like maths that the general public feels daunted to explore.. we need to show our kid that mathematics is a universal language that can explain and expose the intricacies of life that the eye may not even be able to see.
Mathematics is an art so creative, so simple or detailed that it can take us on a journey to anywhere, close to home or to infinity and beyond.. Mathematics is a tool that can lead us along almost any path we wish to embark on… Mathematics will be at the forefront of our educational journey. If you have a firm foundation in mathematics there is not a career path that is not at your disposal… skip building a firm foundation in mathematics in your youth to find yourself wishing to embark on becoming an engineer, physicist, or biochemist in your 40s and you will find that it is mathematics that will be your biggest stumbling block! We firmly believe that our kids must have a firm foundation in mathematics for this will open up worlds to them throughout their lives.
MATHEMATICS CONNECTS AND HELPS US TO UNDERSTAND OUR WORLD & THE UNIVERSE THAT WE ARE PART OF!
Walking talking reference books is not what we want to create in our children but rather people that can draw from experiential understanding, people with the ability see connections and draw conclusions. . People that can think for themselves.. think differently, talk differently, act differently for it is in all these differentlys that they will become worth while contributors.. and lovers of life.