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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Learning On My Own Terms

In public and then in high school, I hated science, geometry and I didn't care much for geography or history. Being as stubborn and pigheaded as the best of them, that meant I wouldn't try or put out any effort when I was in class. This resulted in very poor grades and I did just enough to pass and move on up the ladder. 
Boy have times changed. These days, I am fascinated by geography and I love to read about history. I am sometimes perplexed as to why I rebelled so much against it when I was young and I am so open to it now.
Until I thought about it. I learn only on my own terms. I can't be forced to learn, or do anything for that matter, and if I am forced I simply shut down. But once I vest myself of my own free will I will dive in and not stop until I know as much as can possibly be known.
In that way, the internet has been a super tool for me. Like having a library of reading, video and all sorts of information just a click away. It seems to have come along at exactly the right time for me.
The funny thing is, I perceive that most kids don't study or learn as much these days because the internet distracts them away from those activities, much the way TV did for my generation. 
I know I learned a lot from watching The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Fat Albert even though I didn't know it at the time. But in many ways it was a distraction from my studies. If they had been incorporated into the learning process I might have been more interested. But it wasn't.
Maybe we are going about education in the wrong way. Perhaps we need to find out what kids want to learn about and just guide and facilitate them towards that. Eventually natural curiousity will take over and they will branch out, on their own terms and time. 
Part of the problem is that we aren't trying to educate, we are trying to prepare good little workers for the world after their parents don't provide for them.
Is that the job of the education system? Maybe, partly, and maybe it has to be that way. But generally I feel that we should educate them and let them find their own way. Just like myself, I think most will eventually find their way back to where we are forcing them now. On their own timetable, on their own terms. 
Will this happen on a grand scale? Probably not. I am a realist. I get that. But it is something to consider. With things like the internet, we can now at least be assured that the information will always be there when they are ready to consume and contemplate it.   
I for one am glad that when I want to know about a place, or a time in history, all I have to do is google it and get started. But I get started on my own terms. You can rarely force someone to learn if they aren't interested. I certainly could not. 

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