Friday, April 28, 2006

Which is worse?

Which is worse, to be forced to do something or to not know something? I had a discussion recently that really made me think. A friend mentioned that she forces her child to do math and practice writing for 5 or 10 minutes a day. She says she will not learn to write, her letters are crooked and she must learn how to do it. Her child will be 7 at the end of the summer. I am not sure 5 minutes accomplishes anything except conflict. Her child has now asked "why haven't you made me write lately?" The child's mom responds "because it is so hard" (to make the child do it). The child responded "Well how am I going to learn it if you don't make me do it." YIKES!!!! That was the super-duper red flag to me. I do want Evie to learn to write legibly and clearly (as in clear thoughts). At age 6, she has very little reason to sit down and write extensively. She writes notes, grocery lists, thank you cards etc. She does not have a passionate need to express herself through writing right now. She may never have that need. I do think my friend is right that is is easier for kids to learn the physical act of writing when they are still youngish kids--the brain is just more open. I guess my big objection is the notion of forcing a child to learn something at a particular time. In my opinion the force is worse than the not knowing.

Institutional school has created such an odd and now ingrained timetable for the acquisition of knowledge. We have internalized that timetable in this country and our kids suffer because of it. Evie is learning to read MUCH older than I did. I was one of those weird two year olds who figures it out and doesn't come up for air until about age 22. In the grand scheme of things Evie is still incredibly young to be able to read. She reads well and with expression, she loves to read and be read to. I read well so at this age she doesn't really NEED to know how. She knows because she wanted to know and it gives her pleasure. That's how I want her to learn. At age 32 I have never, nor probably will ever, be able to do gymnastic and physical skills like Evie. If I ever have the true NEED to know them I will let you all know how I am coming along.

1 comment:

Mammal_Mama said...

My oldest daughter is also six. She goes through spurts of wanting to write notes, or simply sits down with a pen and paper, and tries to figure out how various words are spelled. She only wants help if she asks for it. She loves having books read to her, but doesn't feel the urge yet to really concentrate on learning to read, which is fine with me.

Like your daughter, she's also very physically adventurous, and has already learned things I will probably never learn. So what if, down the line, she realizes she lacks some piece of skill or knowledge necessary for her to fulfill her destiny? What's to stop her from learning it then? Absolutely nothing!

If I tried to force that knowledge on her before she even cared about it, I'd be crowding out some of the stuff she really DOES care about knowing, RIGHT NOW. And once I crowded out her motivation, how could she get back in sync with her destiny and her dreams, which would have provided the motivation for her to, eventually, learn everything she really needed to live HER life?

She'd just end up knowing alot of stuff she really didn't CARE about knowing, and her apathy would cause her to forget most of it.