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Sunday, December 22, 2013

26. Education and learning

The cold of Chicago began to feel painful little by little. I started running  every morning to avoid the cold, and that gave me a good feeling, and the best of my routine was that occasionally,  I was accompanied by some children, and parents felt confidence letting them run with me, should not teachers motivate children?.

Eventually, cold became brutally painful and to stay away from diseases, Gaby lent me a bike, the platoon became even bigger, but snow made the difficult our fun, so I ended up accepting Gaby offer of picking me  at home and taking me to school, but eventually I convinced her to convert her Prius in a school bus, and we would pass by children to their homes. Some parents could not afford the school transport, so we made good arrangements, and Gaby also won so many blessings. I think that if she add them all, she would  have enough for three entire lives!.

During a particularly cold morning, I began a mental debate that I dared to share with Gaby: why should children go to school even in the most deplorable conditions?. Why could not  they learn at home?, Why do we have to expose children to diseases?.

The first Gaby’s idea was to tell me that there was a movement called Home Schooling in some countries which is stronger under various arguments included distances, the cost of schools, diseases, and especially an increment of school violence that find more and more victims, this option also allows parents to control content to which their children are exposed with.

That day I thought much on this topic, around the second week of cold season, 12 children were reported sick and, of course, the rest were at risk. We started  eating more fruit than ever and learned to wash our hands with soap and water, because there are health statistics indicating this simple process reduces the risk of contagion.

Children came  to school with tired faces after having received the usual vaccines, but certainly with encouragement to learn, to share ideas and they never were tired of smiling  to the challenges. Those were the kind of children that doesn’t appear in the books.

When I left school, I decided to visit my guru, she had been traveling, so I missed our afternoon sharing a cup of tea with a slice of pumpkin bread, I don't understand why she likes so much the pumkin bread, but I am always sure we can have it in return for our talks that always left me something interesting in the head.

This time I asked her the same question I made to Gaby: why children can not stay home to learn?.

I think she looked at me with weirdness, and I thought she was trying to get into my brain through my eyes, but after a brief silence, that I have learned she needs because that means her answer is being designed to teach something, she said:
-   I think that I can give you two answers, both independent, but maybe thinking a little in each one we can discover that there are more possible reasons.

The first answer is that if all children could rest when the weather is extreme, the cost of teachers and administrative services would be such that probably education would become untenable in a short time. Any region has changes in temperature that range from moderate to strong, but at different times, which it would  create a distinct school calendar... I think it would be a little chaotic and little viable for these reason.

The second answer is less simple but is related to the idea of education. Humans are the only one specie that puts its creatures for years and years in artificial environments to learn, or at least, what a group of people believes that they must learn. Ideas, plans and programmes, I call to all that education, and it’s far from learning, since many times these ideas are outside the children context.

But then, what is the relationship between learning and education?, Are we educating children to learn?.

-        In theory, Yes, but I think there is a huge distance between this two concepts. When someone designs a plan, it does it thinking about what it should be learned and what this person thinks that children should know and how should they know it, but there is a gap between what that person believes that children should know and when children can use that knowledge.

All of us believe children should speak, write, read and learn numbers, because they are the basic learning and it is assumed that children should maximize these cognitive tools. But what if a child is delayed?, you don't stop and analyze why a child does or doesn´t learn. Your program says that you must follow a schedule and if a child can¡t follow the routine, parents should seek either external or school support to help that child to catch up with the rest of the classmates. The problem is student, not the school system.

Education is a set of ideas, which are designes to be released through teachers, who are the depositaries of them, and they manage then in a such of way that children learn them, from teaching strategies, so teachers are another distinct entity, although of course, they are part of the education.

Learning is a process that occurs inside children’s brains, as a response to stimuli from the environment, which is shared with the rest of the species on Earth in order to survive.

The rest of the species do not cease to learn, by cold or heat, right?, so perhaps we should not complain.

-I guess that the rest of the species have other things to complain, because considerating their exams are about showing the ability to survive and if they do not pass the test, the cost issimply their life.

I think then that I see things from a different perspective now. I guess that pushing children to study allows us to have better drugs against diseases that allow them to go to school.

-I've seen your kids more than happy running with you to school. I think you make a huge difference. You push them learn!.

When I got back home that evening, I got a great blend of fruits and vegetables, even I added spinach (even though I think they are disgusting) to strengthen my immune system and withstand the cold of Chicago. As Jose’s parents sa:, if we have to live here, we can not complain, because it’s better to give a good face to life; and I guess that everyone think  the same thing, because children who fell ill were crying to allow them to return to school to learn... no doubt I was doing something weird with those children, I was sure that parents will blame me for a children ideas attack!, what will parents do if these kids decide to be scientists?.