I mean, I learned what I needed to remember to pass my quiz/test/course/grade. I remember my goal of senior year government class was to learn how to get out of a traffic ticket, which didn’t happen. My government teacher failed to spark an interest in anything more than that, so I memorized what I needed for that quiz/test and nothing more. I learned how to guess, how to manipulate my teachers, and I had a lot of good times along the way. However, I am just now learning how much I don’t know. I’m making up for lost time, and it’s amazing what’s out there. Check out my links to various learning sites on the right side of the screen. If you feel like you have it all figured out and there’s nothing left to learn, I guess you won’t find anything of value in this blog. Congratulations to you!
I’m not a historian, or algebra expert, or professionally-trained reading expert. My 4-year-old is starting to read and my 3-year-old is on his way because, like all children, they are programmed to learn. I’m there to help them on their journey, and guide them. They have a vast network of support and encouragement to help them with what they are already busy learning. Welcome to The Information Age! This is a wonderful time to be a child – especially in Austin, TX – where culture, literacy, art, history, science, engineering, naturalism and more are all available for exploration just outside our front door, or through our cyber windows. All we have to do is make the effort, and give our kids the opportunity to partake. I will continue to strive to get them the best mentors and the best sources for learning material but the momentum will have to originate in them.
“Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.” – Plato
My kids play together on their various mobile devices, and often times their dad will join in and lead them on some sort of mission. They have become nimble in the virtual environment, and they have learned how to work together and help each other in these worlds (Minecraft, Rift, etc.). We don’t play overly violent games, especially military combat games like Call of Duty or Black Ops. I have strong opinions about the direction our military has gone with regard to civilian casualties, and when we hear those numbers of innocent people (women, children, elderly) killed and dismissed with a shrug it astounds me. I hope my kids never play games that desensitize in that way. Though, yes, I’m okay with them clubbing pixelated, boxy, green-faced zombies because guess what? Zombies aren’t real. Monsters aren’t real. I like that my 4-year-old is not afraid of imaginary things.
4. My kids will learn how to camp without the freaking Boy Scouts.
The boy scouts have recently (since the original posting of this blog entry) revoked their policy of disallowing gay youth from joining their organization. The refuse to allow gay mothers and fathers (did you know, gay people can be parents too??!! Go figure) to participate, which irritates me. I thought “no girls allowed” was a stupid rule when I was 7 years old, and my opinion hasn’t changed much. Fortunately, we have found a group called “Camp Fire USA” which has a local chapter in Austin. I think their core values are preferable to the Boy Scouts code of *ethics*. From the Camp Fire Balcones chapter website:
- We believe that children and youth are our most precious resources.
- We believe in an approach to youth development that builds assets and empowers individuals.
- We believe that the best youth development occurs in small groups where children and youth are actively involved in creating their own learning.
- We are committed to coeducation, providing opportunities for boys, girls and families to develop together.
- We provide caring, trained mentors to work with children and youth.
- We are inclusive, welcoming children, youth and adults regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation or other aspect of diversity.
- We respect and celebrate nature.
- We foster leadership, engaging children and youth to give service and make decisions in a democratic society.
- We provide safe, fun and nurturing environments for children and youth.
- We enrich parents’ and other adults’ lives by expanding their skills and encouraging them to share their talents and build relationships with children and youth.
- We respond to community needs with our programs and expertise.
- We advocate on behalf of children, youth and families
Dax has already had his heart broken by his first crush, they both have witnessed and experienced bullying and I have already consoled some hurt feelings. There will be unavoidable turmoil in their social lives just as readily available as in public school. I don’t jump in and tell them how to navigate every social situation, nor do I encourage them to come tattling to me every time someone lets their mean flag fly (except in situations where someone is in real danger, but I digress). They are learning how to deal with all kinds of personality types and all kinds of situations. The good news is, all relationships are voluntary at this stage and parents are at least kept informed as to what is going on. The kids have plenty of space to grow their own relationships.
6. My kids will make friends.
No, they might not be surrounded by several hundred kids at any given moment, but they have friends. They have favorite friends. They choose the people they want to spend their time with, and for better or worse the relationships don’t have to continue unless both people want to keep the friendship. My kids have found common ground with other kids – some their age some not, and have built solid friendships based on similar interests rather than sitting next to them randomly in a class segregated by age.
Next year we plan on buying and moving into a house several miles away from where we live now, and I’m hopeful to find some
neighborhood kids for my boys to befriend and play with. When I was 6 or 7 I met a girl, a year older than I was, who lived down the street and we became best friends. I also became very close to a pair of sisters (two years older and 1 year younger) who lived a few houses down, and none of these girls were my age. I didn’t see any of them during the school day although we were all in the same building, but we managed to form a lifelong bond that exists to this day. It’s simply not true that my kids will miss out on friends because they won’t be going to school. They will have their own experience, not necessarily the experience you or I had. They will choose their own friends, and those friends will choose them for a friend as well.