This is what I’ve been thinking of a lot lately: “How can I change the way I teach to become more a part of the learning, a joint-learner, and not so much ‘teacher’?” This idea has occurred to me here and there over the years, and there certainly have been a lot of things we have learned together. But how can I extend it to almost every area of learning? For example, instead of goading children to practice various musical instruments, how about sitting down at the piano or with the guitar and working on something myself? Isn’t it likely that this would be more affecting on young musicians? Rather than overseeing practice in my instructor role, I could make points as fellow musician. It would also cure me of the inner pining for “more time” to enjoy making music myself.
And what about art? Why is that I haul out paper, paints, pastels, and never touch medium to paper with my own hand? It’s certainly not lack of desire. I love doing artwork and this season, especially, inspires me. I see paintings in my head that need to be expressed. Yet, inevitably, the urge passes along with the vision.
Writing is another skill I would like to improve upon. I have devoted time and focus to it for a few short periods over the last several years, but each time it gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Now my writing consists mostly of hasty blog posts, which I still enjoy. Would it not be beneficial for my boys to see me writing? What if we wrote stories and poems as a team? Perhaps, my skills would not be exercised and stretched to the level I would eventually like to see, but it would be a start.
This is the beginning, and a very rushed description, of the vision I have for our daily custom to take on. I would like all mathematics to come from real activities – building, cooking, measuring, creating. All science from experimentation and observation. I am aware that none of these ideas are new or novel. Ideas seldom are. I just have to figure out how to embrace this style more and make it a part of our every day living, as many other people have. Here’s the catch. While I am enjoyably engaged in a fun project, while I am painting beautiful pictures, laughing at our team-authored poems, stretching my own abilities as a writer, singing, playing and dancing with my children – nobody is cooking lunch, sweeping the floor, emptying the trash, or buying the groceries. And somehow that thought alone makes me feel like I’m back at square one. I’m the teacher, cooker, cleaner, overseer, try-to-keep-upper – they are the students.
Little by little, over the last few weeks, I have been making a point to shift my thinking on some things – to see things differently – so that they become learning opportunities for everyone instead of irritating tasks I must complete by myself. That can be hard for the fact alone that sometimes these “learning opportunities” create twice the work for me! But Also, I’ve been forcing myself to do. Do sit at the piano, do put paint or charcoal to paper, do forget about tasks for a moment and laugh, have fun. Like everything, it is a journey. I can see where I want to be, but I can’t get there immediately. Step by step….. step by small step.