Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Epiphany in Learning

The last few weeks, learning has come alive in our home. Not just in the kids but in me as well. I am finally grasping what home schooling can look like. It need not be all about work books and seat time. It can be snuggled up reading a book, living a time period through the pages of a story.
This happened to us a couple of weeks ago. A Journey into the Bottomless Pit by Elizabeth Mitchell. In less than two weeks we will be taking a trip to Kentucky to visit Mammoth Caves. I picked up the book to read prior to our trip. Since it was just over 100 pages I figured we would read it by chapters, which could take a week or two. We got snuggled into the chair and began to read. The story is fantastic! It is about Stephen Bishop, a slave who led tours beginning in 1838 through Mammoth Cave. He was so curious about the cave system on his day off he would explore the caves. He is responsible for finding most of the passages still toured today. He was a brilliant man. Who taught himself to read so that he could learn more about the geology of the caves. He will was well respected by the scientist who toured the cave, often teaching them.
Needless to say, we could not stop reading. Chapter after chapter, we devoured the words. We read it all in one day. More precisely, in a matter of hours.
Something about that day, that moment, that book, sparked something within me. We checked out more books about caves, bats and Mammoth. We have learned so much about limestone, formations and animal life within a cave. It's amazing.
Reading about Stephen's life as a slave has sparked me to learn more about slavery and the Underground Railroad. I have read three books about the underground railroad and I can not get enough. Each one has taken me less than 24 hours to read, even keeping me up into wee hours of the morning. I know I will read more. I am hungry to know more.
Hunger. There was a line in the last book I read. Paraphrased: "Hungry, she is so hungry for knowledge she has learned more in three days than my young sister has in three months." And it is true, in the story an adult slave woman is given the chance to learn to read and write and she is hungry for it. She devotes all her energy to it. Knowing knowledge will help set her free. How true is that. Knowledge is freeing. Ignorance is blinding, inhibiting, hurtful. Did you know slaves were most often forbidden to learn to read and write. They were better controlled if they were uneducated. Today in America, in general, we are raising a generation that baulks at school. They have no desire to learn. No hunger for knowledge. It saddens me.
It makes me strive not to kill the love of learning in my kids. I see it begin to set in after a long period of workbooks and seat work. Yet it comes alive in nature and in hands on experience.
My goal for the coming year is to stay on with the text books for Language Art and Math but ditch them when it comes to History and Science. I think we are truly better off experiencing it. Through books, museums and hands on in nature. And not just texts that state the facts but books that engage in real life people, in real life situation, experiencing life in a certain time period or enviroment. That is my goal.
For I truly want to feed this hunger. Both the kids and my own.

1 comment:

Erin Muller said...

Rock On! Sounds fantastic to me. I loved hearing about the dairy barn experience...I told Chip, and he said "see, now that's homeschool, just experiencing and learning" Keep up the great work!