School vs Education

I’m beginning to wonder if what is happening at schools nowadays is education, or ‘just passing the time’. My 7yr old charge is in Grade 2. Yet again, their theme is ‘My Family’. It’s been ‘My Family’ since her first day at school as a teeny tiny toddler. Surely she would know her family by now? Yes I know that you can add on to it, but come on, there are SO many more interesting themes out there to choose from! But I suppose given the meager budgets and salaries, it makes sense to recycle old material from the year before even if it is outdated and boring.

And then I start to wonder about the teachers and management themselves. Having been a teacher in several different schools, I know that you get good and not-so-good and some downright awful teachers and management staff. T management can really make or break a school. For example by totally outlawing technology in an Intermediate Phase class by saying it’s ‘bad’ doesn’t bode too well when you’re trying to teach children who are growing up with technology changing before their very eyes.

This made me think about what I want my child (and hopefully in the future, children) learn. By all means their ABC’s and numbers and what a neuron and a molecule are and the history of our country and how it has become what it is today, but also a LOT more.

I want them to be able to grow their own food; to make a stock and a soup and be able to read and understand a recipe to make pretty much whatever they want from scratch; to treat illnesses themselves from locally and easily available herbs and spices and household things; to be able to sew even if it is only a hem and button; to use their imaginations; to design and make something that they need; to catch a scale a fish; to take good photographs; to care for others; to manage money; to appreciate the little things in life…I could go on and on. Most of this you cannot do in traditional schools anymore. No longer do they teach woodworking and home-economics in primary schools. No longer do children get to be a part of daily life.

there’s the early morning rush trying to get children fed and off to school with everything they need, then most parents go to work, then it’s the after school rush of activities and appointments and homework before rushing through a dinner meal and evening ritual of bath and into bed. How often do your children cook WITH you? And by with you I mean actually being a part of the process,not watching? How often do your children just get to let loose and explore and experiment?

I’m not so sure that what we’re getting in our schools at the moment is an education, or at least, not an education that will stand up to everything the real world throws at us.

I love watching what my daughter gets up to during the day. I think my next few posts will be about what she gets up to, what she’s learning and why I think it’s so important. And of course to brag 🙂


Snot on a sock

I am very interested in the Montessori method of teaching and learning. My mum was a Montessori teacher when we were younger and I have always connected with the principles it is based on. I try and raise Skye using the same principles. These include allowing your child to explore and learn at their own pace, creating child-safe environments here your child can explore without hearing a constant ‘no’, lots of hands-on, sensorial play and experiences etc. They also encourage the use of real equipment rather than toy replica’s. As a result, Skye has been allowed to use real glass to drink out of, real knives to cut, is allowed to touch and explore pretty much anything she wants to because we teach her to do it properly and gently.

Over the last few months, Skye has been wanting to dress herself. First she started with taking her pants off – so we went through a stage of her being naked from the waist down for quite a while!, then she managed to get her shirts off too so she was totally naked for a while. We have since progressed to being able to pull on panties and shorts and some tops and dresses. It is very cute seeing her able to do this and she is always determined to do it herself, except when she can get daddy to do it! She always tells me ‘Skye do it, not mommy help Skye’. And somedays she’s still naked!

She also likes to choose her own clothes. Of course, this leads to some interesting combinations and sometimes she wears pyjama’s all day, but in the greater scheme of things, does it really matter?! She learns and plays just fine no matter what she is (or isn’t!) wearing! I keep her clothes on shelves that she can easily get to on her own. It’she middle of summer here and this morning she chose a nice outfit, it actually matched…then just as we were walking out the door to work, she grabbed 2 pairs of socks. Knee-high. One pair beige, the other black with polka dots. On our way to work she told me she was putting them on and then proudly told me “Skye wipe a nose” and then “Skye got snot on a sock”. We got to work and she had one beige and one polka dot sock on and happily marched in to work to show everyone her socks…and the snot.