Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When the Teacher becomes the Student

A new school year has started. This year my oldest would be entering third grade (where did the time go?) I say "would" because he's never been in public school and is not working at a fully third grade level, on a few things he's above. But I can't say he's a third/fouth/fifth grader, I would just confuse people. We have been doing this homeschool thing for four years now and I still have a hard time at times.

Am I doing things right?

Are they learning everything they need?

Will they grow up just as smart as the Valedictorian?

Will not being Valedictoriain or Quarterback or Prom Queen or Class President make them feel like they were left behind? Left out? In any way deprived?

There are times when these questions -and a slew of others- don't even register in my brain. I just know its working out. I know they love their lives and are learning regardless of me drilling them with times tables (which we don't really do). I know it because they surprise me with their knowledge.

Imagine this, I am with them 24/7, I oversee everything they have exposure to and dole out what they require for learning on a daily basis and they astonish me with the words that come out of their mouthes.  They know things I didn't know they had a clue about.

I must be doing something right if they learn after the text books are put away for the day. That makes me proud, confident, happy.

But it's not always like that, it hasn't always been that way. I will admit that I am a perpetual planner. I plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. Make lists, do research, make a budget sheet but my fault comes with follow through. Life gets in the way. I have so many brilliant ideas for teaching, field trips to go on and assignments to work that I fall short of actually implementing many of these mind-blowing learning adventures. I'm disappointed in myself for this personal fault.

I'm not perfect, I get that. But I want to be for my kid's educational sake's. When I'm not, I pound hard blows to my own confidence in teaching.

It's a weakness I desperate to work through. I need to work on just getting up and going and seeing where we end up instead of working out how each step will be made to get there.

Teaching my children has opened up so much about my own experiences in public school. I remember my own reasons for being a "gifted" student and getting straight A's and it wasn't because I craved learning. It was to get the emotional pat on the back from those I felt were superior. Once I didn't desire that emotional bolstering learning fell away and I didn't want to be apart of the system anymore. So, at fifteen I dropped out. Learning left me for a long time.

The current educational system leads us to believe that after formal education is completed for the day, the year, at graduation, that learning is done. Our brains are "allowed" to turn off and tune out. Learning after regulated school days comes with stigmatisms of "overachiever" or "nerd". Learning has become a punishment for acedemic fulfillment.

I eventually went back to highschool and got my diploma but it was just a task to be completed. I was always good at workbook pages. Since teaching my own children I have re-learned learning though it has been a hard emotional process to endure. I am still finding out things about myself and my desires that I need to work through. I want to know things now. I want to engross myself in things that interest me. I get excited over things and love the ability to explore them in as much depth as I want. I find myself getting overly animated and unable to stop talking when someone tips the lid on something I'm learning about. I have the enthusiasm and drive that I see in my own children's eyes when they tell me about something they've uncovered.

I have become childish in my learning. And it's a very good thing. It's also opened my patience to listen whole heartedly when they come to me explaining at length their newest discovery in minute detail.

I never want my children to have to re-learn their love of exploration and education. Hindsight has allowed me the gift of understanding. Self-honesty has shown me my weaknesses and has given me an opportunity to work towards strengthing them. Homeschooling has blessed me with the gift of becoming the student.

1 comment:

Anita said...

Great post! I totally know what you mean. We are trying to teach how to learn and a passion for learning. Along the way we pick it up too.