I tend to focus on what G is learning in his “informal” relational spaces. This started long before we joined ALC. But, especially as we create an environment of self-directed learning, which includes lots of games, free play, and the absence of siloed disciplinary focus (which I love as an educator), the question becomes how do you learn about learning?
From a very young age, I have asked him about games, played those games with him. I asked him questions & also sorted games into the categories of learning or consuming. In fact I said, “if you can tell me what you are learning, then, I don’t care about how others categorize it, but we can see it as a learning game.” Of course, this means, he has to figure out what I mean by learning and that is something we are all making up as we go along. ‘coz if there are no disciplinary boundaries, then the field is wide open and learning can take many colors, shapes, and forms. And in fact what is key learning for him as an adult is unclear, as today’s work world will not be tomorrows. What we are familiar with today will change over the years to come. Some will be similar, but there will be many more that will open up & will not resemble today. However, from a process point of view, certain skills are transferable and those he seems to be picking up in his gaming world and at ALC. The big three are:
- How to engage with people to maximize benefit for all?
- How to engage around social inequalities, especially when you are socially granted privilege? How do you yield it for the larger good?
- How to create an alternate world, one not built on furthering of inequalities?
Because of ALC’s environment, he is in a hot bed of conversations where he has to develop his views about #2 & 3. And interacting with each other to create a social culture is the focus of #1. But ofcourse #1 & 2 are related & their product is #3. So, whether he sees it that way or not, as a socially active parent, it is helpful to me to develop this frame. But here is where my play focus is also helpful. Can I stay in the emergent without developing these frames? ie can I embrace the ambugity or do I need to define it?
Is the definition more for me and I justify it as the scafolding for his growth? I think the two cannot be separated. We are interlinked via his educational paradigm. As a person in relationship to him (not just as a parent, but as one human with another), we have to make sense with each other. I define meaning making as connecting the dots. And connecting dots in a unique meaningful way is creativity. I feel I have to create scaffoldings (for my sake & may be him) but that needs to be transient (for both our sakes). By connecting the dots with him, we learn the art of connecting dots. And connecting of dots is the basis for making (the basis for creativity & is part of being curious). For me, learning to be a “maker” of things, ideas, knowledge, frames, meaning, etc is a transferable skill across industries and possible futures. How and when do we connect which kinds of dots?
Lately, I found myself asking Gus “what are you learning?” How abstract a question is that! I realized it and yet couldn’t find a way to change up my question. I think my own anxiety that he learn, was getting me stuck and tangled. I found I couldn’t free myself. I wanted an answer!
And then one day Mark said, “so tell me about the game.” And bingo a light bulb went off. Of course! Ask him about the stuff, not the learning. Listen for the learning.
In the way he speaks about whatever he is immersed in, I will learn what he is learning and then I can go direct if needed. But come from inside his world, not mine! Oddly enough I was doing that in other areas…about friendship, and our family interactions, and about his own body etc, but when it came to this “formal” space of learning I fell into the “education” trap. What was he learning, was the most useless question! It is like, “how was school today” or “what did you do” etc….instead ask a more interesting question, “what was most boring? What was most fun?”
A democratic free school that has evolved into an agile learning, is a space for all of us to interact with ideas about learning and education. We have to learn how to be agile with these alternate ways of being in relationship to “education”, “learning”, and “schooling.” We have always learned and grown with our kids, and it is no different this time. Yet, the difference is that we need news ways to learn, but the old process of learning what our kids learn (ie assessment for educators) also needs to focus on how our kids learn (successful parenting/teaching has always focused on the how and what). We have to develop our new vocabulary. We have to design new scaffoldings to learn how we learn.
How do you learn about learning? How do you learn about your own process of learning? Share a story!