Friday, 21 September 2012

Inner learning and synthesis

"Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today. "
-- Peter Gray, article here.

I'm been relatively quiet on this blog lately, not because life hasn't still continued for us but because I'm still learning to understand the changes that are taking place in our homeschooling approach.

You see, once I've let go of my lesson plans, I am not entirely sure how to make sense of the spontaneous and unplanned learning that is taking place in front of me.  This is all very new to me, so I am very much a new learner in this sense.

Another new learning for me is to have patience.  As there is now no specific objective boxes to tick, I no longer have means to report that Tiger has learnt such-and-such knowledge in say, two days, or that he has completed five pages of certain workbooks.  What has changed is that Tiger's learning now appears to me to be more like pieces of puzzles - somewhat disjointed but all belonging to the same big picture nonetheless, even though where each piece belongs is not very obvious at the moment.  Therefore, now it takes much longer for me to piece together the seemingly random activities that he does with his time to get a sense of where he is taking them.  His learning process is a bit of a mystery to this very systematic, squential Mum, but it all makes perfect sense to him.

One example that I can discuss here with some clarity, after two weeks of observation, is this whole theme/idea/project of war (or what I currently group under "Classical Civilisations" for the benefit of my own understanding).

The following are the activities that I have observed Tiger doing on his own accord over a period of two weeks:

1) playing with the camera to make videos;
2) watching more documentaries on Greek and Roman battles;
3) clay modeling;
4) playing with toy soldiers and building blocks;
5) playing ches;
6) making armour and weapons out of cardboard; and
7) reading books.

Seem pretty random, don't you think?  However, then a few other things happened that gave me a glimpse into how Tiger is connecting the different dots together.  One of those activities is him making his own short film of the battle scene reenactments using his toy soldiers:

When Tiger realised that he did not have any modern toy soldiers to make a more modern battle scene (after watching The Battle of Waterloo 1815), he decided to make some out of modeling clay.  He declined all my suggestions and help, and figured out by himself how to mould the clay into the soldiers in different positions.  If he hasn't been watching so many documentaries and reading so many books on this topic, he probably would have some difficulty to fashion the various positions without any references.

Another activity that reveals to me that learning is continuously taking place within Tiger is through our informal discussions, which can go from talking about the hows and whys of battle successes due to strategy and positioning, to the more philosophy questions such as whether wars could ever be justified.  It would have been easier for me to record that Tiger has completed two dozen pages of history questionnaires, or that he has sat through three history lectures, but that clearly is not how he learns best.  We sat through the first lecture of The Greek and Persian Wars from The Great Courses but Tiger does not like the feeling of having someone talk at him all the time, so that has gone onto the back burner for now.

Of course, in the past two weeks Tiger has been engaged in many other activities besides the ones I've listed here.  This is only a snapshot of the activities that I have been able to make sense of within my mind after two weeks of observation.  Other observations will follow once I am able to see how they fit into a bigger picture.

This blog post is linked up to:
1) History and Geography Meme #42
2) Enchanted Thursdays Blog Hop #32
3) Homeschool Mother's Journal: September 21, 2012
4) Collage Friday
5) Favourite Resources: September 21, 2012
6) TGIF Linky Party #48
7) Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with the Party


  1. Yes! We have many, many moments such as this. Mostly our reenactments are after books, but I am sure documentaries would do the trick, too. I usually only put down that they have been playing this or that, or show a picture of a scene they have set up with their toys or figures, but it goes much deeper than that. They are truly invested in learning. That happens a lot at our house, too.

  2. This is wonderful and I'm impressed by the clay work! Love how he's taken full ownership of his learning!

  3. i admire you for "letting go" and letting your son lead you. While we are fairly structured in our homeschool, I do let my kids have a good amount of interest led learning time and that means not checking off boxes as we go. Those activities are always the most meaningful for us, I am certain!

    Thanks for linking with Collage Friday!

  4. My boys would love to make battle scenes like that!

  5. I love the idea of using the camera. That adds a wonderfuly different approach to learning. I'm going to figure out a way to add that into our learning this week. Your son is so creative!

  6. I know from my own experience that it can be REALLY hard to let go of our own goals and lists for our kids' learning, but I believe it is very valuable. It looks like your son is doing a beautiful job integrating his interests into his learning and his play!
    Thanks for sharing this post at Favorite Resources.


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