2020 brought the public school model of education into our homes. As the Christian homeschooling movement swept the nation in the 1980s, parents discovered more than how to teach their children. Parents uncovered the joys of family togetherness and a way to accelerate their children’s learning.
Gregg Harris, author and homeschooling pioneer, coined the phrase “delight-directed” education. His idea was that the God-given curiosity born within a child is the greatest asset parents have for successfully teaching their children. When children are interested in something that relates to them they become captivated by their own curiosity. Even students with learning disabilities become information sponges.
Now, if you have been teaching your children through the “virtual classroom” model, you may be inclined to tell a different story. School at home is not the same as homeschooling.
School at home places all direction of your child’s education with the government, and school system. And make no mistake, the keyword in “school system” is “system.”
Schools have had to adapt, and preserve, their system. And sadly, it has very little to do with how children learn best.
Peter Grey, Ph.D. explains the gap between the success of Harris’ Delight Directed education style, the failure of public schools, and the utter disaster of virtual learned when he wrote, “perhaps the greatest failure of the education system is their complete inability to harness the curiosity of a child.”
Curiosity, in fact, was and still is the foundation of a child’s ability to learn.
It took years for me to understand that behind every educational system there is a philosophy. Before I had understood the power of harnessing curiosity, my son illustrated it for me.
He struggled with the simple books the school provided. Reading See Spot Run was an agonizing exercise in perseverance for my rambunctious second grader. Then one day my boy dug out his daddy’s dusty old Army training manual that he discovered reading had value. It could teach him something that he wanted to learn.
Like many little boys his age, all things soldiers and the army fascinated him. Add to the mix the fact that this was his veteran father’s book made it all the more valuable to him. He spent hours pouring over that manual, sounding out words, and studying diagrams. Did he learn anything that was actually educational for a second-grader?
Yes. He learned that he could read. He could read an adult book. He learned that reading could open up new worlds for him. Two natural elements of childhood combined and made reading, for a struggling student, become easy and delightful—curiosity and play. He loved to play army.
Grey explains how these two natural elements of childhood created the best learning environment for, not only my son, but for all children.
The drive to play serves educative purposes complementary to those of curiosity. While curiosity motivates children to seek new knowledge and understanding, playfulness motivates them to practice new skills and use those skills creatively. Children everywhere, when they are free to do so and have plenty of playmates, spend enormous amounts of time playing. They play to have fun, not deliberately to educate themselves, but education is the side effect for which the strong drive to play came about in the course of evolution. They play at the full range of skills that are crucial to their long-term survival and wellbeing.
Play is not recess from education; it IS education. Children learn far more in play, and with far more joy, than they could possibly learn in a classroom.
Herein lies the rub. Children must be freed from their computer screens to play, explore, and turn on their natural abilities to learn.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
“All things” includes our children’s education. While the world struggles to preserve its educational systems, perhaps it’s time to rethink the built-in system that their Creator has already given them.
Rhonda Robinsonis a speaker and the author of Freefall: Holding Onto Faith When the Unthinkable Strikes, offering women spiritual wisdom to transform the darkness into a season of profound change and emerge with vision and purpose. Learn more atRhondaRobinson.tv
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