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04 August 2014

Whose Job Is It?

Education. Whose job is it, anyway? We talk about it in ways that suggest the responsibility lies with the adults:

"Education is important to me, so I am making sure my kids get the best education possible."

"I've decided to educate my kids at home."

"We bought a house in a good school district so that the kids will get a good education."

"My parents made some significant sacrifices for my education."

Certainly, parents do have a responsibility to provide ample educational opportunities for their children, but I wonder if we underestimate the importance of the child in the process when we talk this way. I think there is some danger in thinking education to be a thing that happens to a person (and children are people), rather than a thing they actively participate in and pursue.

Young people increasingly need to be learners who act and thereby receive additional light and knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost—and not merely passive students who primarily are acted upon.
-David A. Bednar

I was reading this lovely article from Charlotte Mason Help, and pondering what they said about making lesson plans and who the education belongs to. That's what made me think about my question: Whose job is it? I recently joined a couple of groups that study Charlotte Mason's methods. One of the things I've seen them talking about repeatedly is "spreading a feast." They aim to create the conditions for kids to receive ample instruction on a wide variety of topics. But in the end, no matter how beautiful the feast, it is the child who determines how much goes in: they must act. If they are simply present to be acted upon, then most of that feast will go unabsorbed. It is the activity of the mind that makes learning sink in, and stay with you.

Too much learning, without requiring any effort on the part of the student. The teacher works too hard to use all her training and experience, but the student does nothing. If education is made too easy, then students are robbed of the active mental challenge of learning.
-Mr. Paterson, quoted by Charlotte Mason

I think I have been letting Hero skate by too much, and expected too little from him. I forgot that education is work, and that there is value in the work itself, as well as in the learning. So, when there was pushback, I backed off. I had been reading about the value of play, and unstructured time --and there is a lot of value there-- but I went too far, and now it's time for a correction. He needs free time to play, it is true, but he also needs the challenge of work, and at almost 8 years old, he can handle more than what I've been asking for. When he puts forth his own effort, he qualifies himself for blessings from the Lord that simply aren't available when he is a passive passenger in the experience. In this, as in so much else, we need balance.

P.S. I'm so glad you stopped by to read about the adventures at our house! If you want more, "Like" my blog on Facebook to get posts (and the articles n things I wish I had time to blog about) in your feed. Wanna see all the projects and ideas that I may or may not get around to? Follow me on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!

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