The learning goal of my education was to prepare me for a career so I could pursue the American dream of home ownership.
The learning goal of my kids’ education was to get into a college, and get a degree, and make money, and all that it could buy.
The learning goal of my teenage nieces’ education, and my teacher friends confirm this, is to score well on national tests so that the school funding will continue. (I know, I know, this is an important reality!)
Things changed over those 5 decades or so.
Even longer ago than my childhood (yes, THAT long ago!), a 19th century educator named Friedrich Froebel conceived of the idea of kindergarten.
The name kindergarten literally means ‘garden of children.’
Froebel wanted it be just that – a place where a child was literally nurtured like a seedling in a garden. Gently. Thoughtfully. Attentive to the needs for its growth, each seedling’s individual growth. He envisioned it being a place of play, or wonder, or curiosity.
In Froebel’s words,
A child who plays thoroughly and perseveringly, until physical fatigue forbids, will be a determined adult, capable of self-sacrifice both for his own welfare and that of others.
Does our education system see it that way? Does it address the play needs of each child-seedling even beyond that garden grade, or has it fallen prey to a blanketed thought process?
We all can intuit the answer to that. I have helped with homework and find myself baffled that so much rote is required versus thinking through solutions and ideas.
For many of the teachers who see these child-seedlings just getting by, not really dying, but not really flourishing. One of my teacher friends described it as being like watching a slo-mo horror flick.
Noooooo, don’t open that doooorrrr! Noooo, don’t give these kids one mooooorrreeee test!
And the parents see this too. They see the stress that kids have about yet another test. They see the disregard for the curiosity that should be inherent in learning – for the fun of playing at learning.
As grandparents of these little seedlings, we can do something. We can.
We can slow down the pace of our grands’ life no matter what the reason for its frenzy (and sometimes it’s not parental or school pressures at all, but just the nature of life in 2017).
We can take time to just sit and wander and giggle and talk and do nothing but enjoy the growth of this little seedling who, for just a bit of time, is under our care.