Allowing the Process of Learning

posted in: pedagogical | 0

Originally written in September 2009

“I come in with something it took me three years to come to the conclusion about this matter, and I get mad because the kids don’t see it in the classroom in 30 minutes. What I’m doing is depriving them of the process and getting there, and it’s dehumanizing. We throw these things in books in their laps and then we wonder why they’re not overjoyed like we are. How long did it take us to get to the point where we were overjoyed about that? So this calls for great wisdom and discernment.” — James Daniels, “The Nature of Education”, 2009 CIRCE Conference: A Contemplation of Nature

Wow. This concept has so many applications besides even teaching our children. Think of all the topics that you feel passionately about. How much time did it take to move from ignorance to understanding to love and passion? How many questions are rattling around in your brain, connecting with other ideas over time, waiting for their time to bloom? Is it only lack of information that these questions need, or is it time and space and process to come to fruition?

So, when we share our convictions, whether it be about theology or parenting or education or politics, there really isn’t a shortcut we can use to convince anyone else of our positions. It is not a process of downloading information directly into someone else’s mind. It isn’t microwaveable. It’s a seed that has to hit fertile soul, feed on material already there, gather in nutrients from other sources, then slowly germinate and grow, putting out a branch here and a few leaves there to gather in more rays of light until finally it’s ready to produce fruit.

So, in education, then, it’s not all about the teacher. Certainly the teacher must have knowledge and mastery and passion. However, a teacher’s mastery and passion are not sufficient, will not guarantee a passing on of that passion. The teacher doesn’t so much have to convince a student of the rightness of his passion, he has to cultivate the conditions in the student so the student can grow his own passion.

And, here again, we see also the need for leisure in order to learn. True learning happens when it becomes personal, a part of you, not when a fact is memorized. And this is a process that takes time, whether it be student encountering grammar or chemistry or an adult encountering new ideas about salvation or parenting or homeschooling. And it is a process that is individual. It can’t be figured out and made into a cookie cutter process. Each person brings his own background and assumptions that make it easier or harder to accept an idea, that put different nuances and emphases on particulars, that make him apply it differently.

How can we incorporate this idea into our homeschools?