Scott explains how children can learn much more of life while out of school.
Readership: All; Parents;
Author’s Note: This comment deserved its own post. I thought it might bring a smile to the faces of this crowd. Cut and pasted from my FB page on 2020 April 20.
Academics are important. We must learn to communicate in the languages of literature, mathematics and science so that we can interact with each other and the world around us. We must be able to articulate and describe what we have found in the natural world to each other and future generations. Formal education enables us to think clearly about difficult problems. But these are mere tools for communicating ideas and processes. There is more to learn, and this learning can be obtained in different ways.
A lot of children are stuck indoors as a result of the COVID-19 quarantine. Even if they study online, you might think children aren’t learning as much while they are out of school. But this is not necessarily true. Children’s brains are naturally wired to learn, and they will learn things no matter where they are, or what they’re doing.
Since I have my own ranch way out in the sticks, I don’t have to worry too much about either getting sick, or having any Karen-like neighbor blow the whistle on me for breaking whatever quarantine is in effect. I’m really thankful for that.
Mychael is in Great Falls this weekend, as she is every weekend, working in the ER.
This morning, I went out to feed the animals and I noticed that several goats had managed to push the gate open because someone did not close it the way I require them to.
AND there were three new baby goats in the pasture!
So, I went back up to the house, told the kids to get dressed and come help me. We needed to get all the goats back into the corral without letting the others escape. This takes planning, tactics and strategy — and a little physical exertion (PE!). If you have ever tried to catch goats, you’ll understand.
Then, we had to fix the damage to the gate. Because of the way the gate is constructed, this involved a geometry lesson and an explanation of the leverage required to keep it shut. So, this gave me an opportunity to talk to them about geometry and physics, and how to use their brain.
After the goats were caught and the gate was repaired, we rolled back to the ranch with all of us on the four-wheeler, including the three baby goats and the momma. So I got to explain how automatic transmissions work.
One of the hydrants had siphoned some water back into the hose that leads to the goat water tank. This was in danger of freezing if the weather gets too cold tonight, and this would break the weep valve buried 8 feet below the ground. I got to explain materials science to them as well.
Kenna already knew what to do once we got the goats into the barn, because she is a farm girl. The farrier showed up a little early and Kenna and Aleks got to learn about equine feet and why it is so important to keep them trimmed and healthy.
Later, we loaded up the trash into my truck because we have to haul our own trash out of these backwoods, and the kids asked me how the trash guy knows how much and whom to charge by weight for what I am dropping off. Since the transfer station does not have a scale like the main dump does, and I have a dump permit with a client number assigned to me, I explained how he estimates the weight of the trash and uses the tag as a reference for billing, something I pay yearly. So there’s a lesson in estimating and a little about economics.
Driving back from the transfer station we talked about many things, including how road grades work, why the stream is probably going to be low this year, and the fire risk for this summer.
We also talked about how we might level the round pen and fill it with sand so the horses can have a better surface to train on. This involved calculating the area of a circle, by the way. We also discussed where to get filler sand, and how much we would need to buy, what equipment would be needed to do the job, and how many hours of work it would take.
This stuff goes on all day when you have 15 acres, goats, horses, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats, and a donkey. It never ends.
At the end of the day, when I finally sit down to check my email, I get a bazillion nasty messages from teachers about missing assignments, missing test scores, and missing vocabulary words. I just grin to myself sheepishly. My kids know more about the how the world works because of the life I am giving them, than they can learn by being forced to sit still and be lectured for 6 hours.
There’s a part of me that wants to write them back and ask, “What the ћәll do you think we have been doing all day?” Mychael has a hotter temper than me, so I’ll let her do that.
It’s not that I don’t value classical education. I have a Ph.D. My wife is an RN. We believe education is important. But in general, the educator class – obsessed with credentials and certificates – is full of themselves and in panic mode. Not to mention the fact that a person can pour out tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars while earning a degree that in no way guarantees success or future earning potential.
- Σ Frame: Teaching our daughters well is the early foundation of successful wife moulding (2020-2-14)
- Σ Frame: The social contract is up-ended, but fortunately, I’m out! (2019-6-9)