Home educating made it extremely difficult to keep secrets from the children at Christmas, because there was rarely an occasion when they were out of the house like school children are.
But we felt that an inquiring mind was the foundation of an educated mind; an essential prerequisite to learning which sparks motivation, discovery, self improvement and maintains the desire to learn.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” said Albert Einstein. So we fiercely encouraged questioning and inquiring minds, even if it did present challenges!
Most children start out in life with inquiring minds. This sense of enquiry is how they begin to learn about the world that surrounds them. From their first experiments to do so – usually by putting everything in their baby mouths – to their hunger to find out how things work often by experimenting, misusing and eventually breaking the things they get their hands on! We have to be patient with their explorations – it’s just them learning.
The development of language gives them another tool to continue these explorations, often through the use of the ‘Why’ question. Every parent experiences endless ‘Why?’s, which can sometimes feel quite wearing, yet it shows a child’s developing interest in his world and a desire to know, to learn, to extend intelligence. So it is a valuable opportunity for parents, minders and teachers to maintain that desire, not to mention the use of spoken language.
However, as much as they may want to, with rigid targets and curriculum to fulfil, teachers rarely have the luxury of time for lengthy, in-depth discussions in answer. And a prescriptive schooling regime seldom gives opportunity to keep children curious and questioning.
This was a huge advantage with home education. Those lengthy and in-depth discussions as a result of their curiosity are invaluable in developing the mental aptitude and intelligence young people are so often accused of lacking, most particularly an alert and inquiring mind.
Young people with alert and inquiring minds, whose questions haven’t been dismissed, who are encouraged to be curious, to observe and question, explore, experiment and find out, are also more likely to have developed greater language and conversational skills, awareness and respect (also a form of intelligence) initiative and confidence (essential for growing independence) and an ongoing desire to know about things. It’s almost a snowball effect.
Listening to and responding to their enquiries, their curiosity and their ‘Why’ questions extends this effect, it helps develop intelligent thinking, another vital aspect of what it is to be educated.
So it’s important that we use any opportunity we can to do so.
Although I admit that at Christmas we had to be quite ingenious with our answers in order to keep those surprises!