Monday, October 25, 2010

If you let them

I just finished reading The Call to Brilliance  by Resa Steindel Brown. One can find a good chunk of it here.  The main point of the book is that all children posess brilliance inside them, that will come out and develop if one provides an environment conducive to learning, discovery and creativity which is often lacking in a traditional school environment one finds today.  She describes her personal experience with her children and brings lots of material from a large number of sources which supports her thesis.  It was an interesting read and it got me thinking.  I largely agree with what the unschooling  movement claims the problems are with the traditional schooling methods, such as overemphasis of compliance over learning, not being able to pursue one's interests and inclinations in an adequate way, overemphasis of homework over family and play time, etc are a few examples.  These problems tend to be exacerbated even more if the child in question has any learning difficulties or generally doesn't fit in well into a regular mold.  But I was wondering,  what makes a child to some extent immune to these problems.  Because clearly there are people around who have gone through school and yet retained their love of learning, found their true voice and managed to actualize their potential.  For some it was despite of their schooling but for some I think something else was at play and that something else is the parents' involvement.  I think when the parents provide a rich environment at home and let their children learn and play and dream and discover, that in many ways compensates for and overrides the problems that could be created in a school environment.  As I watch my children, each one quite different from his/her siblings as they grow and pursue their own interests, dream their own dreams, I realize that a parent's job often is to step back and let them do things, to relinquish some control and let them experiment.  Let them do the projects the way they want to sometimes, let them choose their own activities, help them pursue their interests.  The parent becomes more of a mentor and a facilitator.  If one has all kinds of books around that kids would find interesting to read or to look at, and art supplies or whatever it is, if one lets them wash the floor when they want to, to rearrange their room within reason, choose their own style of clothes again within reason then I think in most cases one would see this magnifiscent kind of an unfolding of a personality emerge that the author is describing.  Again I would like  to stress, that the point is not necessarily to produce the next Reb Chaim or the next Einstein or the next Rembrandt.  But the point is to take one's ego out of the picture and let each child shine and become what he/she is meant to be.  And they will certainly shine, G-d willing - if you let them.


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