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The Nature of Learning
"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge.
Natural learning is not a method of teaching children. It is a way of looking at children and at life. It isn't an educational approach. It is a lifestyle choice!
Long ago I learned that the key to learning naturally is TRUST: trust that all people, of any age, will find the paths and tools that work best for them. Learning simply happens naturally - "any person, any age, any time, any place, any pathway, any pace" .
To follow a natural learning philosophy is to value the learning derived from personal needs and interests. It involves seeing the importance of the small as well as the big and impressive; a sudden insight, a small understanding, a tiny 'ah ha' moment. These are truly as impressive as the larger milestones; that first step, first word, first tower built, first novel read, and so on. Learn to recognise and value each and every learning moment because they are all important steps to a comprehensive understanding of what it is to be human.
Few of us get out of bed each morning in the mood for a learning experience but most get up feeling in the mood for life. Children definitely do. They don't love to learn, they love to do. And in the act of doing they learn.
By mystifying learning, turning it into 'education' by chopping it up into small digestible chunks, endlessly dissected and commercialised, we have distanced and alienated ourselves from the very real power derived from learning. Education gives that power away to teachers, professors, authors, spiritual leaders, and other people who dictate to us what, when, how, why and where we should learn. We're taught from an early age that learning is a skill that needs to be learned, that we need to learn how to think, that the only place we can achieve such abilities is at school. Rubbish! It's obvious to new parents that the tiny child blinking up at them is already soaking up information, transforming it into knowledge, learning new skills with every passing moment. The naturally-learned manipulative abilities of a toddler are astounding, if a trifle infuriating at times!
For millenia children learned to walk, talk, dress, play, read and write and count without the imposition of formalised educational programs, curricula and school-type environments. In his book, The Underground History of American Education , John Taylor Gatto exposes the myth that literacy improved with the onset of compulsory education: the ability to read was a prerequisite for attending some of the earliest schools.
Recognising the learning embedded in each and every moment of our lives allows us to regain that power: the power to determine our own lives, to fulfil our dreams, and to truly serve others. John Holt summed it up well when he said "learning is as natural as breathing" .
Natural learning isn't something we do with - or to - our our children. It isn't something we can make happen or create. Natural learning is what we allow to happen once we get out the way and stop interfering in the learning process!
Natural Learning and the Natural Learning Curriculum , Roland Meighan, indent page
The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto, ch 3
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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