Learning

Just read this quote of Montessori which is so true!

“Here is the essential principle of education: to teach details is to bring confusion; to establish the relation between things is to bring knowledge.”

I am so blessed to have a daughter who teaches me so much about how to go about with her learning (what a round-about statement!).  We just returned from a trip where we saw lots of insects, crabs, fish, birds… and she and I were musing about what phyla crabs fall under (this just goes to show you how little I know :)).  But it really doesn’t matter.  To homeschool is to learn alongside with the children. And to learn alongside them really helps excite them – that something you don’t know but wish to find out about is something worth knowing and that there IS a way to find those things out.

I just love the Montessori method.  Initially, I was at a loss – how does showing children these kingdom/phyla cards help them learn? Then I realised that they’re only stepping stones, like everything else in learning.  My 2 year-olds teach me the most. They remind me that how THEY learn is how all learning should take place.  They WANT to do things themselves, but often they need help – but what kind of help?  Just small things – a stool here, showing them slowly there – the small steps…

And THAT is how I need to “help” my older children.  They WANT to do research by themselves but I can’t just “show” them the cards and hope they’ll know what to do next.  They need step-by-step support but ALWAYS with the view that they are going to the final destination by themselves.  It’s really like the scaffolding we give to the little ones.  And the time and space for them to keep trying.  The older children aren’t really that different from the younger children except that what they want to do is different.  The younger child wants to learn how to do the day to day things.  The older child wants to learn about the world….

And the “older” child in me wants to learn alongside with them.  I just love the way Montessori says we need to show the child the big picture first.  It makes complete sense, not from a teaching perspective, but from a learning perspective.  Suddenly, my own eyes are opened.  I want to know how different living things are categorised too.  If I started the way things are traditionally taught in school, I would have “learned” a lot of this and that but it wouldn’t stick because it was just plenty of facts but no real thread to bind them together.  Now I suddenly “get” how knowing a shark is neither a fish nor a mammal (like whales) and these methods of categorisation (the linnealus method) completely help! Yes, I know we are moving to different methods of categorisation but starting with one method does not at all impede the learning of another….

This is all so very exciting….

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