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Owning the Level - Livin' the Good Life

Feb. 20th, 2009

09:42 am - Owning the Level

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So, why is it so important that a child be allowed to learn whatever he chooses to learn? Well, for one thing, he learns it FASTER. A great example is when Ben decided he wanted to learn to read at age ten. Since it was his decision, he was highly motivated, and he learned in a few months what most children take a number of years to learn. Another reason is that the child learns BETTER. I was required to “learn” certain subjects in school that I was either not interested in or not ready for. So, I faked it. I pretended to learn the subject by memorizing just enough of it to pass the tests. Then I would forget it. Most kids do this in school. It’s not real learning. It’s faking. When my children chose to learn things, they learned them for real, and very well. You have to admit, there is a huge difference between those two kinds of “learning”. By letting children learn what they choose to learn, they will engage. They will often go deep. And in some cases, they will gain mastery. This is why homeschooled kids typically stand out. They strike people as precocious. They use advanced vocabulary. They behave in a more focused and interested way. They seem to know a lot about things most kids don’t know about. An unschooled child is also more likely to have “holes” in their education. They delve deeply into some subjects, and in others, not at all. Unschoolers are often criticized for their tendency to have “holes”. (There’s got to be SOMETHING wrong with them!) Well, here’s the beauty of it all. Children who go deep have an advantage over those who don’t, because they experience what is called “owning the level”. Someone who can learn one thing thoroughly has the ability, and the inclination, to learn something else just as thoroughly. A child who has developed a firm and broad grasp of mathematics sees himself as a successful learner. He is then likely to achieve a firm grasp of any other subject he is drawn to, because “learning thoroughly” is now his style. He can easily transfer his ability to be excellent at one thing to being excellent at something else. He “owns the level”. A few of our sons comment at times that they aren’t very good at math. But, my belief is that if they want to learn it badly enough, they could take a college math class, and they would most assuredly get straight A’s. They are all excellent learners and can learn anything they choose to learn and learn it well. They've just never wanted to learn math badly enough. So, my job as a parent was to encourage my children to follow their interests, which made them good and confident learners, which set them up for success in life. I didn’t need to concern myself with WHAT they learned, as much as just trusting that they COULD and WOULD learn.