Curiosity Driven Lives
Statement of philosophy regarding education
If I’m blessed with raising a child, I’ve got a structured education plan. At the age of one, I will schedule specific blocks of time to focus solely on colors. Then another to focus on numbers. Other time blocks will be for exercise, family history, technology, housekeeping, and virtues. None of the activity topics will connect directly with the others; children need to focus on one task at a time. I’ll ding a chime to indicate it’s time to change gears and learn something different. Any work that wasn’t completed in a block can be completed later in the day. Every few months I’ll facilitate an exercise to officially assess his or her learning. If the results are favorable across the board, I’ll add a gold star to the competency chart in the child’s bedroom. Sound crazy? It models the foundation of our public school system.
Unfortunately, my time spent in school wasn’t focused as much on understanding the material as it was focused on how to get the A. It trained me to work for a result and not appreciate and understand the journey. Thankfully my thoughts have changed and my behaviors in learning are no longer driven by those childhood experiences. I believe curiosity is the most organic form of education. I’m curious. If you ask my husband, he might say I’m a little too curious about all the questions I ask. I don’t always ask the questions expecting he will know the answer, but instead, to dive further into a topic I’m curious about. When an individual experiences an indeterminate situation and has an interest in it, there’s a better chance curiosity will drive the learning experience. If he or she doesn’t care about it, more than likely the indeterminate situation will remain that way. John Dewey wrote about inquiry:
Inquiry is the controlled or directed transformation of an indeterminate situation into one that is so determinate in its constituent distinctions and relations as to convert the elements of the original situation into a unified whole.
(John Dewey, The Experience of Knowing)
Developing a pattern of inquiry is education.
Education is absorbing and expressing.
Education is listening and questioning.
Education is doing and living.
Education is experiencing.
Experience is education.
Education is transforming the unknown into the known by logic, questioning, experience, trial, and error.
Education is not
about blame. We live in a world filled with blame. Blame the parents. Blame the teachers. Blame the administrators. Blame the government. Blame the system. Although problems need to be addressed and corrected, blaming in and of itself will not change an issue.
done in anger. Many people fight ignorance with anger. Parents correcting kids’ behavior. Couples working through a relationship issue. Politicians fighting for an ideology. Stop to think about how often anger is used in attempts to get a point across, to educate. It eliminates curiosity and engages defense mechanisms.
only done in schools. Society places unrealistic expectations on our teachers to be a hero and, in a sense rescue children from ignorance. It is a huge burden. A teacher should be one of many role models in our society who inspire curiosity, taught best by the example of many.
about memorization. Schools require students to memorize data as if an individual can compete with the technology at our fingertips. Preparing children for the future means equipping them with knowledge of today’s resources along with ingenuity that can address tomorrow’s concerns.
restricted to a specific time in life. We don’t graduate with an education because it is not a short term experience we can complete. The educational system is one track on a journey to develop lifelong learners.
a score to be kept. Our society has high regard for standardized tests; a judgment of the progress of children through today’s educational system. The restriction of conformity for 12 or more years hinders the diversity and ingenuity that enhances the world once a student leaves the formal education system.
a place for bribery to get results. John Dewey says it best:
But, while the principle of continuity applies in some way in every case the quality of the present experience influences the way in which the principal applies. We speak of spoiling a child and of the spoilt child. The effect of over-indulging a child is a continuing one. It sets up an attitude which operates as an automatic demand that persons and objects cater to his desires and caprices in the future.It makes him seek the kind of situation that will enable him to do what he feels like doing at the time.It renders him averse to and comparatively incompetent in situations which require effort and perseverance in overcoming obstacles. There is no paradox in the fact that the principle of the continuity of experience may operate so as to leave a person arrested on a low plane of development, in a way which limits later capacity for growth.
(John Dewey, Experience is Pedagogical)