Monday, May 31, 2010

Lead and they will Follow

Albert Einstein said: "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn."

Recently we visited Zane Grey's cabin in Payson, AZ.  It was the last thing to do that day and we were already tired before we got there.  The kids were miserable from being out in the hot sun and traveling so much.  My 7 yr old at first refused to go in.  I wasn't enjoying myself too much what with the constant whining.  It wasn't looking like this was gonna be a good visit. 

We paid for admission and a very nice docent showed us around the cabin.  He taught for about 30 minutes on the various aspects of the cabin: the signed copy of "Betty Zane" and the fireplace tiles brought down from the original cabin, the typewriter that once belonged to Mr. Grey himself and so many wonderful facts about a really remarkable man.  The kids listened intently, they behaved very well considering how they were before we went in.  Most kids, even mine on occasion, would have been bored out of their minds.  Honestly, I was shocked they were so involved. They asked questions and conversed with the docent.  At the time I was just grateful they were so behaved, but afterwards I was proud. 

As we were leaving the docent asked us if they were homeschooled.  Now, this could go either way.  Either he knew they were homeschooled because they were well behaved or he knew they were homeschooled because they did something bad. Everyone has heard the stereotypes of homeschooled kids.  When we confirmed they were indeed homeschooled we held our breath waiting to hear either good or bad news.  He said, " I thought they were.  They were so well behaved and they actually asked questions and listened.  The public school kids we have come through here never say anything and get in to trouble."  HA! He should have seen them 10 minutes before we got in there!  Talk about miserable!  But I guess I don't give them enough credit.  It was hot, they were tired, they are kids of course they are gonna be miserable and misbehave. 

But what is it about homeschooled kids that they can converse with adults and actually seem to enjoy the learning experience?  I don't know about other homeschooled kids but I know with mine I have made it a point to not teach them but to allow them to learn.  I usually do this by learning myself.  I love to learn, its fun, its exciting, life is better the more I learn.  The kids see me learning, reading, exploring, asking questions and so they do the same thing.  To them the learning does not stop at 3pm.  Everything is a learning experience.  Learning to them is not one sided.  They don't just receive instruction, they actively participate in it. I know there are schools and teachers out there like that and parents who continue with educating their children even after school lets out but for the vast majority of students the learning is left up to 8am to 3pm, Monday thru Friday and only when instructed by a teacher. 

Teach by leading and they will follow.

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