Our favorite read of the week is about the homeschooling Harding family in Alabama who have sent six of their 10, count ‘em 10 kids to college…before they were 12 years old. (The other four are on track to do the same.) The secret to their success? “I don’t have any brilliant children,” Mrs. Harding reports. “We just find out what their passions are, what they really like to study, and we accelerate them gradually.”
It’s not rocket science. As Andrew Mangino, co-founder of the Future Project says, “When young people are not deeply passionate about their education, nothing else is going to really work.”
For more on what passion has to do with modern learning, read on.
One of our favorite authors on education, Seymour Sarason, puts it this way: “Productive learning is the learning process that engenders and reinforces wanting to learn more.” As in my son and Minecraft, the virtual world building game that I have to drag him away from on a daily basis simply because he is constantly wanting to learn more about building houses and castles, mining for more minerals, creating all sorts of treasure chests. He has a passion to create and in some ways to compete with his in-world friends that rarely dissipates.
If only he had the same passion for Algebra.
And that’s what worries me. Like him, I didn’t really have a passion for Algebra, and even though I “learned” it well enough to get a “B” in high school, I don’t even know where to begin to help him with his homework today. That “learning” didn’t stick for me. I only learned what I had to to get through the class. On the other hand, I loved to write, especially essays. I wrote volumes of stuff that no teacher ever saw or asked for. Explains a lot about why I have had a passion for blogs and blogging almost since the day they were invented.
So here’s a good question to ask your kids: “What did you study in school today that you want to learn more about?” Go ahead, ask them. But don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with silence, because school isn’t about what kids want to learn. It’s about what we want them to learn. And I get why this is so; when the idea of school was created, it was hard to learn without it. Content and knowledge and teachers were all scarce. We had to decide what every child needed to learn and organize how they were to learn it…whether they liked it or not.
Don’t miss the larger point, however; learning the things we and our kids do have a real passion to learn has never been easier with the Web. Whether it’s Minecraft, Italian cooking, playing the piano, or just about anything else, the resources and teachers we can connect with online allow us to self-organize our own learning in ways that didn’t exist just a few years ago. (And just for the record, we’re not saying that learning face to face with a teacher who shares our passion isn’t still an incredibly powerful and important experience.)
No question, there are certain things we want every child to learn, including how to be an amazing learner. Our challenge is to embed that process in the passions that every one of our students have.
As always, interested in your thoughts.