One of the things that homeschoolers love is having the power to control their child’s education. Or not to control it, depending on the approach taken. But nevertheless the ability to allow their children to learn in freedom, without the restrictions placed upon kids in traditional classrooms.
While chatting with a kindergarten teacher from a public school not long ago, I asked about something written on her lesson plan. The instruction had to do with center activities, specifically the center containing the building blocks and die-cast cars and trucks.
Her plan, in so many words, stated that children in that particular center were allowed to build whatever they wanted. But, not really (I thought). Because the plan also said that the children should be encouraged to build out, not necessarily up. In other words, she didn’t want children only stacking blocks atop each other and building giant towers. She wanted them to build larger, wider, stronger structures to avoid frustration and make less of a mess. She also didn’t want them getting hurt by asking to stand on chairs to build higher.
This really got me thinking about the freedom to learn in its simplest form.
Though I understand the constant need to keep kids safe (no disagreement there), I thought about the idea of telling the children how to build safer and stronger structures. This is a lot like what many parents do by sheltering children or continually reminding them how to do everything, instead of allowing the kids to discover things on their own.
Isn’t there more to be learned by building a tower and having it topple over on its own?
Does a teacher always need to be there, reminding a child when to stop building or suggesting how many blocks it might take to tip over? Couldn’t the builder figure that out on his own, and wouldn’t that be part of the fun and fascination?
And what if different children had steadier hands or different techniques than others, and were able to build even taller towers because they had stacked their blocks differently or more neatly, getting an entirely different result than the child working beside them?
And so what if the tower fell down anyway? Apart from the noise or element of surprise, what exactly was the big deal? Is anyone suggesting that a child could never recover from a broken block tower?
Surely the “mess” could be cleaned up in a matter of seconds. And wouldn’t it be fun to see how far the pieces scattered after the tower fell anyway?
What are your thoughts after reading this post?
[Photo of Dr. Drew’s blocks: Moreau]