Saturday, 9 March 2013

Interest led learning!

No one can act and learn for another.The doer must do the work himself. The task, the choice, the purpose must be his....

JOHN HOLT    Instead of Education

One of the most important lessons I've learned with an oppositional child is that you can't MAKE them learn. Learning comes from the heart and a need to know.

As I've backed off from worksheets, lesson plans and structured learning I have become what John Holt calls  a t-eacher rather than a Teacher! Rather than feed my children information which I feel they should learn like a Teacher in a school who is restricted by the National Curriculum, I have the luxury of being able to sit back to listen and observe what my children are saying and doing.

Yesterday I discussed the possibility with my son of giving him an allowance. He frantically scrambled the numbers in his head , did some mental arithmatic and decided that he would be better off than he currently is. This impromptu maths lesson took place in the car and continued throughout the day as he calculated how long it would take with his new found wealth to buy a computer for gaming.

We spent half an hour in PC World whilst he did his research and he explained about the memory in each computer and the merits of Windows over a mac for gaming and as we were leaving we spotted a rack of pc games for 97p each! We rifled through the games on offer and discovered Surgery simulator which my son had previously seen for £19.99. Needless to say we couldn't overlook such a bargain so we snapped it up and my son and his sister spent the evening operating in my front room, all the while learning the names of different parts of the human anatomy!

Meanwhile I drew up a legal contract for consideration with regard to my son's allowance and how it was to be used, and recommended that my son take independent legal advice on the content from his grandfather before he signed anything. I was surprised to receive an email back from my son complete with amended contract for consideration. My son had perused it ,struck out the wording which was too vague and could be ambiguous and which he requested be implemented. A discussion then took place between my husband and son as to the validity of a contract signed by a minor. My husband explained that in fact it was a memorandum of agreement evidencing an agreement between us and a signed copy could be produced in the event of dispute!

None of what took place that day took place at a desk,at a set 'learning time' or was premeditated. It happened naturally and continued as a result of my son's expressed interest in what we said and saw! Learning should be fun and spontaneous - not forceful and stifling!


  1. So agree about fun and spontaneity! My boys have little pass books for their pocket money, which I hope will get them used to banking and managing their money as they get older. I love the idea of a contract - definitely one for when they get older. :-)

  2. I have a legal background and the idea came about after talking about contracts in employment and landlords and tenants! My son now has a far better understanding about reading contracts carefully,making sure both parties are mutually agreeable to the terms and the fact that they are legally binding if both parties are adults and capable of understanding the terms! Not something I learned until university! My son was really engaged and interested! He has just told me that he is able to have a debit card at 13 and will I give my permission!