We’ve been doing a lot of thinking about school lately. Widget goes to kindergarten next year, and, as much as I would love to homeschool (and I would love it), we think it’s best for him to get used to the structure and routine of a school with other children. We’re thinking hard about how to ease the transition, supplement the academics, and help keep the love of learning alive in this little boy who reads himself to sleep at night (at four!) and his baby brother, who takes small appliances apart and puts them back together (at two!). Both are incredible problem-solvers and little thinkers, and I’m so proud of them.
I just finished reading a new book, Wounded by School, written by Kirsten Olson, and it’s a very interesting report on some of the latest educational research (she was a doctoral student at Harvard with Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot) and updates of some of the most intriguing research from the 60’s (some of which, astonishingly, I’ve read). She discusses the experiences of children and adults in detail with regard to wounds received in school — by which she means things that have happened to derail a child’s natural love of learning and intellectual curiosity.
Longtime readers of my blogs know that my whole reason for staying home with my children for so long has been to provoke and nurture their natural intellectual curiosity, so this is of course right up my alley. I was appalled at some of the stories that she writes about, but encouraged to hear them brought out in the open and discussed, and the homeschooling option discussed as a positive thing that not all of us are able provide. The author herself admits that she chose not to homeschool, and talks about that experience right alongside the others as she delves into the mystery of why school wounds — what is it that takes away the joy of learning?
Is it being rewarded for doing things that we enjoy naturally? Is it the regimentation, or the schedule? Or is it something else entirely — and how can we get it back — or at least stop taking it from our children?
These are important questions, and questions that will haunt me as we go through the next year deciding on kindergarten for our children. This book helped me frame some of my questions, and I think it’s an interesting read for anyone interested in school culture and the experience of learning.
Now … what’s next on the reading list about early childhood education? Any recommendations?
A review copy of Wounded by School was provided to me by the publisher and will be donated to my local library.