Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Beauty of the Question "Why?"

Have you ever spent time with a young child outdoors? 

If you haven't yet experienced this simple joy, put it on your life goal list!  You will likely find no end to the asking of the all important question "Why?"

Now granted, for those of you who are currently parenting young ones, that question goes through an over use phase, but it has purpose for them!  They're learning!

Of course we can question too: what exactly are they learning?  How to push my buttons?  Part of you wants the incessant questions to stop!  Give it a rest already!  Mom's busy, or Miss S. is busy, or Mrs. G. is busy, or Mrs. L.  But I have wondered, what are am I teaching when I squelch the questions? Am I telling the littles that their wonder is a waste of time?  Or am I saying being an adult with so much responsibility and no time to have fun is the "right way" to be?  Do I want that to be their goal in life?

When I was a brand new teacher at the so very mature age of 23, I actually told parents of "wayward" Kindergarteners "all you need is a routine."  It's amazing to me that those parents didn't just give me the what for with my audacity!  Routine was how I ran the classroom and my life.  It all worked very well as long as I was in control.  That was the goal right?  Learning takes place in a quiet, orderly environment with 20 minutes at each learning station with neatly organized pre-cut activities to assemble.  What's the problem with that picture?

You might say nothing's the problem.  Except for the fact that all that is being learned is how to behave in a controlled environment.  Some classrooms (and home schools) are still functioning this way.  I know my classes were like that for the first 3 years of my teaching... then I moved schools and grade levels.  More on that later...

What is the real beauty of the question "Why?"

I don't always have the answer to the question!  That's the beauty of it!  If I don't always have the answer, then that means I have something left to learn!  There is a topic to research!  A book or two that need to be found at the library together!  A google search to be conducted!

Does not knowing answers stress you out?  It used to really bug me.  I had a ridiculous impression that as a teacher I was to be all knowing in all subject areas, to be ready to pour all my knowledge into the minds of my students.  Ha!  What that ridiculous impression did however was cause me to learn a lot about the subjects that I was responsible to teach.  Of course what I didn't realize at the time was the fact that I love learning!  I was that incessant questioning child.  At a certain age, my mom's response to my questions became, "Look it up!"  We had learning tools readily available at home and I had my own library card.  She fostered my need to know "why" by prodding me to find out the answers myself.

Have you equipped your children with the tools to learn?  Have you taught them how to find answers to the questions they have or do you simply tell them the answer?  

What new idea or memory about helping children learn comes to mind?  Will you share it here?  I'm sure I'm not the only person who loves to learn!

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