Curiousity is easy to find in younger children. All too often though in older students it seems to have disappeared. This has been the case for my 14 year old daughter. Since about 6th grade she has been asking me to just give her some assignments so that she could get them finished. That was the extent of her schooling during that time. Just finish. Sure, she took in some information during that time, but she also became less and less satisfied with the idea of learning. Sadly, this is happening to kids in schools everywhere. Kids are physically there, but meaningful learning and retention is limited by a lack of interest in topics.
I want better for my kids. I want them to love to learn. I don’t want school to be a bad word in their minds. This is why I believe in letting them lead in choosing the topic of study.
I have had a major problem with this concept this year though. My oldest was starting highschool (We started a few classes during her 8th grade year). I have struggled desperately over doing high school like the public schools. Not that we have done anything like the public schools yet, but I felt like as we approached the years when transcripts were really required, I would have to suck it up and ‘play their game’ so to speak if college was in her future.
There are some areas that I think I will still have to do just that. But I have seen the light in some other areas as to how we can still be delight directed.
This week I am focusing on the Geography class. We started out with a textbook format, but after only 2 weeks she was bored to death with it. Face it. Textbooks are less than interesting when they only present small chunks of information. Now I am all for exposure of a wide variety of material, but if we can make the learning more meaningful, then why not?
So the plan is this. She is going to work through each continent over the summer. We went to the library yesterday and I helped her choose and check out books on 5 European countries: France, Russia, Italy, Spain, and Germany. (This is just the start). The books came from the older children’s section. They have lots of pictures and still lots of information.They are not overwhelming… or dull. They cover all of the important details as far as landmarks, government, flags, people, foods, clothes, language, culture, holidays, and more. This summer she will focus on several of these books from our great library, but she will add to it continually for the next few years. She will add to each country accordingly as she encounters it in the setting of a novel she reads or a movie she sees. She can also add things like art and music that she finds. By the end of high school, I believe she will have a proper education in this way.
Last week we began working on her English I course. She is an avid reader, so that part was easy. I had her write down the books she could remember reading this year. Hunger Games, Harry Potter series, The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, Seeking the Heavens, and Pride and Prejudice. I still have to do some work to put together this entire course, but can you see how the subjects are beginning to intertwine? Some of these books (along with the short stories, poetry, dramas, and nonfiction readings) have real life settings, and from them she has, or will have, a better understanding of life in that place.
How does this relate to delight directed learning? I am not choosing her books or her topics. Guiding her? Definitely. Letting her follow her interest? Yep. And it is working. For a kid that just wanted her assignments so that she could hurry up and finish. A few months back, she picked up and read a book called Prada and Prejudice. It is a play on Pride and Prejudice, which I mentioned to her, and she proceeded to get that one and read it too. It was not enough. She had to watch the movie and then read all about the author, Jane Austin. Being the fashion guru that she is, she researched the clothing of Jane Austin’s time period. All of this was on her own. Not a school assignment at all.
Do other kids do this? You bet they do. If we give them the time, space, and fuel to do it. I am looking forward to finding all of the classes that I can to teach, no, to to gently guide her through, because it works. It is how passions are developed and how preschoolers and adults learn. Why change that in the middle?