It wasn’t a VW bus, was it?

“There was a time when good academic qualifications guaranteed a job, but not any more.  One reason is academic inflation.  In the next 30 years, more people worldwide will be gaining academic qualifications than since the beginning of history.  But as more people get them, their currency value is falling sharply.  A university degree used to be an open sesame to a professional position.  The minimum requirement for some jobs is now a Master’s degree, even a PhD.  What next?  But there is a second problem.  Many companies are facing a crisis in graduate recruitment.  It’s not that there aren’t enough graduates to go around; there are more and more.  But too many don’t have what business urgently needs:  they can’t communicate well, they can’t work in teams and they can’t think creatively.  But why should they?  University degrees aren’t designed to make people creative.  They are designed to do other things and often do them well.  But complaining that graduates aren’t creative is like saying, “I bought a bus and it sank”.

-Ken Robinson, Out of our Minds: Learning to be Creative

16-year-olds are people too?

“There is a natural and accepted view that one of the main purposes of education is to prepare young people directly for a place in the labour market.  Obviously, general education should do this.  But there are two complications.  First, thinking of education as a preparation for something that happens later can overlook the fact that the first 16 or 18 years of a person’s life are not a rehearsal.  Young people are living their lives now.  What they become and what they do later depends on the attitudes and abilities they develop as they are growing up.  Linear assumptions about supply and demand can and do cut off many potentially valuable and formative experiences on the grounds of utility.”

-Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.  (emphasis mine)

Another reason we forgo “Baby Einstein”

“Adults have taken it for granted that children are sensible only to gaudy objects, bright colors, and shrill sounds, and they make use of these to attract a child’s attention.  We have all noticed how children are attracted by songs, by the tolling of bells, by flags fluttering in the wind, by brilliant lights, and so forth.  But these violent attractions are external and transitory, and can be more of a distraction than boon.  We might make the comparison with our own way of acting.  If we are busy reading an interesting book and suddenly hear a loud band passing by in the street, we get up and go to the window to see what is happening.  If we were to see someone act in this way, we would hardly conclude that men are particularly attracted by loud sounds.  And yet we make this conclusion about little children.  The fact that a strong, external stimulus catches a child’s attention is merely incidental and has no real relation with the inner life of the child which is responsible for his development.  We can perceive evidence of a child’s inner life in the way he immerses himself in the fixed contemplation of minute things that are of no concern to us.   But one who is attracted by the smallness of an object and focuses his attention upon it does so, not because it has made a striking impression upon him, but simply because his contemplation of it is an expression of an affectionate understanding.”

-Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Reverence before the mystery of creation

“Our attitude towards the newborn child should not be one of compassion but rather of reverence before the mystery of creation, that a spiritual being has been confined within limits perceptible to us.”

“But if in the child are to be found the makings of the man, it is in the child also that the future welfare of the race is to be found”

-Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

I often find myself amazed that the great respect and awe Montessori had for the child.  This respect informs and underpins her whole philosophy of growth and learning, which I like more and more as I read through it.  I’m looking forward to implementing some of these attitudes into my homeschooling over the next few years (although much of her work applies more to child-rearing than “schooling” – good thing I don’t have to draw a clear line between the two!)

Release from solitude

Allow me a lenghty quote, and a few (less lenghty) comments. ? Is it me, or does anyone else wonder why it is taking so many Americans so long to realize some of the things Montessori mentions below? ? (More on this later – I think I can combine some of my readings!)

“But let us think, for a moment, of the many peoples of the world who live at different cultural levels from our own. ? In the matter of child rearing, almost all of these seem to be more enlightened than ourselves–with all our Western ultramodern ideals. ? Continue reading “Release from solitude”

Praise and Worship

I was on my way to pick up Lucy and go home from work today, when I wandered by the chapel at school. ? (How great is it that I work at a school with a chapel and on-site daycare in the building!) ? I glanced into the chapel and there were four seniors sitting/kneeling there, and one of them had a guitar. ? I started toward the daycare, then turned around and went to the chapel and sat in the back row. ? Not only were they singing praise and worship, but songs that I knew! ? Samantha was sleeping in the wrap (after a fussy spell) and I got to spend fifteen minutes reliving those days at Tulane when we would stay up to all hours singing in the TCC chapel. ? It was so refreshing, and to hear those beautiful female voices was truly holy. ? In fact, it was one of the holiest moments I have experienced in some time. ? I came out of it so calm. ? These girls always manage to be an inspiration to me when I least expect it.

On that note, I turned in my notice at the end of last week. ? I’ll be staying home with my girls next year, and I am very excited. ? There are a lot of things I will miss (and some – cellphones, dress codes – which I won’t), and I’m sure it won’t help my Latin any, but I can’t wait to get my house in order and start homeschooling in earnest. ? The countdown has begun – four more months!

TV-free

Craig stumbled on an interesting article the other day about the damage screen time (TV, computer, etc.) can do to the developing brain.? You can read the rest of the article here, but I’d like to share just the conclusion for its insights:

“We human beings are a strange bunch. We grind up grains that appeal to a dog’s extremely sensitive sense of taste and press these into shapes resembling cartoon bones. Then we package these cartoon bones in colorful boxes that appeal to human adults because dogs would never do such a thing. The same is true of babies. Babies would never buy Baby Einstein videos. They are too busy playing and learning from the real world. The real consumers of Baby Einstein products are not babies. The real target is parents and grandparents who want their little darlings to be the next Einstein. I’m quite sure that Baby Einstein products are well produced, colorful and captivating. But the medium is the message, not the program flashing on the screen. I prefer to squish peas in my mashed potatoes, thank you.”

-“Just Say NO to Baby Einstein”
By Michael Mendizza

His main point is that the real world is a much better educator for a child than anything PBS can dream up, but there are so many places to go with this!? First of all, it does say something about a society that views intelligence as a commodity.? We all want to get ahead, and we want our children to get ahead in their turn, and the best way to do that is for them to go to college, preferably on scholarship so we don’t have to pay for it, so we had better have them well prepared for preschool.? I want my kids to read early as much as the next parent, but because I want them to be able to enjoy books and grow from their own ability to investigate what interests them in these books, and if they end up at the top of the class, that is only lagniappe.

More importantly, the difference in Lucy, our two-year-old, between a TV-full day and a TV-free day is dramatic, at least in those little details we mothers tend to notice.? Like tantrums.? It would seem that less TV = fewer tantrums.? And as easy as it is for me to get work done while she sits mesmerized by hours of Elmo and friends, at the same time it is disappointing to realize that she is not interacting, or really acting at all, but mostly absorbing flashing lights.? (Sometime I will write about how close the “interactive” shows are to Ray Bradbury’s vision in Farenheit 451, but not today.)? Maybe it would be better for that load of laundry to stay unfolded if it means she gets to spend more time painting, playing with bread dough, or running outside.

So, for the time being, our TV has taken up residence in the bottom of our bedroom closet, and in the newly-cleaned out space next to its dark screen, Lucy has established a new place to hide and pretend.