Posted by: chrisdavis | April 22, 2012

Who Is Asking the Questions? – Part 1


I have always been a curious, inquisitive person. As a little boy, my house was situated at the edge of a vast, southern California desert and, from earliest memory, the desert was my classroom. It drew me. I absorbed its beauty, its vastness, and its wildlife. Early childhood existence was an endless series of questions: What is this? What does it do? Where did it come from?

All that ended when I was sent to school.

Curiosity had fled, but I never knew where it went or why. One day I read a quote by Albert Einstein: “Modern education destroys curiosity”.

I knew this to be true, but what did “modern education” do to destroy this little boy’s inquisitive nature?

Recently, I came across another quote that explained what had happened to me. To paraphrase: “In school, I was continually told answers to the questions I had not yet considered asking.”

An analogy: A sponge can exist in a dry state. But, when a sponge is immersed in water, it absorbs the water. Why? Because water is the natural habitat for a sponge and it is, therefore, natural for a sponge to absorb water.

Two observations: Daily life is the natural habitat for a child and that is why he naturally absorbs what it has to teach him. School is not the natural habitat for a child and that is why its lessons must be forced into the child.

Long ago, school teachers gave up believing their students cared about what they were being taught. So, schools were left using the only tool they had to make students learn the answers to questions they weren’t asking: fear of failure (properly called “tests” and “grades”).

Since this is a homeschooling blog, the question becomes, “What does this have to do with homeschooling my children?”

The answer: Everything.

More next time…

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Responses

  1. You are so right. Natural curiosity is the stepping stone to discoveries. I “learned” a lot in school, but I haven’t done a much with that information.

    I am glad I learned how to read and do arithmetic, but I sure wish I had learned that stuff without the dread of tests.

    To take an arbitrary list of information and force it into short term memory in order to be able to “prove” learning with tests is so unbelievably so backwards it is almost amusing (if it wasn’t defeating so many kids).

    • Good comment. Thanks. CD


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