On Thursday and Friday we had some excellent teacher workshops after school. Dr. Alex Granados from Southeastern Bible College was the visiting speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed both days, but perhaps one of the things that most stood out to me was what he said about teaching kids to learn.
I’ve posted before, and I’ve written on Medium, about how homeschooling helped me to learn. From 5th grade on, my mom basically did nothing more than oversee my education; she might assign me books to read or lessons to complete, and check my work afterwards, but she did very little in the way of explaining. (“Look it up” was her motto….frustrating at the time, but I am who I am today because of it.)
And I’ve posted on how her attitude towards learning helped me when I suddenly found myself thrust into the world of kindergarten teaching with (almost) no idea what I was doing.
But there was one connection that I hadn’t made yet, and that was the connection that became startlingly clear on Friday as Dr. Alex spoke. “Our task as educators,” he said, “is not to give our students information, but rather to teach them how to think for themselves. We must teach them how to learn.” (the same phrase my mom used, the same phrase I myself had used only a few weeks before!)
And I wonder…am I teaching my students how to learn? Part of me objects; “My world is different!” “I can’t do what my mom did!” “I learned to learn and look things up by reading; my kids don’t know how to read yet! I have to teach them!”
All true. I can’t do what my mom did, give my kindergarteners a book on, say, The Life of Lafayette, and tell them, “Here, read this, and when you’ve finished, write me about three pages telling me what you’ve learned about Lafayette.”
And yet, I realized on Friday that there *are* things I can do. I just have to find those things. I can’t do it all (and THAT is frustrating, because I know that much of what I do in K5 falls by the wayside once the students get to first grade; there is no continuity there as there ought to be….but my responsibility is just to do the best I can in kindergarten, and hope for the best once they get to first grade). But I have to discover (and Dr. Alex spoke of the importance of discovering, of always having a keen, curious mind) as many ways as I can to teach them to look, to find, to be curious, to satisfy their own curiosity.
My world is very different from the one I grew up in. You simply can’t compare a lifetime of homeschooling to a single year of private school. But there have to be little ways I can influence them, little ways I can help direct them and guide them and inspire them. I just have to find them.