Saturday, November 17, 2007

Teaching vs. Learning

I love to organize the school material for my kids, get the information all laid out so that it is logical and tells a coherent story, both within a topic and between topics; I love to include intersubject topics that connect history with literature, science with history. I can spend hours getting things just right, getting all the points I want to get made in just the right place. This is part of what I enjoy about homeschooling.

But no matter how much I organize what I teach to my kids, I can’t organize how they learn. Often my favorite topics don’t excite them at all (although they are polite when they know I am excited), and my carefully-crafted organization doesn’t always (ok, often) translate into brilliance. But just when I get down about it, one of them will do or say something that reminds me that they are always learning – they just don’t always put the emphasis where I do. Somewhere along the line, my teenager learned his multiplication tables very well, although I know I didn’t teach it to him, he can answer nearly any geography question I put to him, and he knows more about WWII than I ever taught him. My daughter has picked up all kinds of historical tidbits that come in handy at odd times, and she is way ahead of me at that age when it comes to inter- and intrapersonal awareness. My youngest son knows more about machines than I will ever care to know and can explain how they work in great detail. It doesn’t have anything to do with what I have so carefully crafted for their enjoyment – but it’s important learning nonetheless.

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