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blog Is School a Lesson in Learning or Obedience?

As a mom you are a lifelong learner.  For me, motherhood has been a vast opportunity to learn new lessons in love, listening and life daily.  I seldom meet a person, read a book or article or even scold my kids without the intention to learn something from that situation or experience.  But today I learned that my way of learning might be the reason why I still, at 30-years-old, still need to learn so much more.

When I was in school I got my first lessons in learning.  My teachers gave me information, and it was my job to learn how to apply that information in a way that would lead to successful and meaningful living.  Well, today I learned that was all wrong.  About halfway through the book “MEganize” by Peter Jennings I figured out why I have decision-making issues.  For example,  I am in the process of redesigning my home.  It is often cluttered with clothes, shoes, toys, electronics and everything else my kids and hubby leave around.  I purchased a bunch of books about design and functionality and three months down the line (today) I have accomplished nothing.

Well “MEganize” said its because I started at the wrong end.  According to Mr. Jennings I should have started my project at the problem phase and worked my way toward the designing stage.  In other words, rather than focusing on obtaining information and ways to make my home look good, I should have focused first on my household issues, and then developed a 42-24323347strategy for making my home functional.

This got me thinking about my kids, school and the role problem-solving plays in their everyday educational activities.  For the most part, American schools continue to focus on the output of information rather than the strategies and processes developed through problem solving.  For example, when I was in school there were just a few “sight words.’ (The usual: the, be, I) But now, my kindergartner comes homes with sight words that can obviously be blended with a little extra mind power.  In my opinion, blending words (or sounding them out) teaches problem solving because it forces kids to realize the interconnection between sounds and letters and how they fit together.  Sight words teach convergent thinking; as it simply focuses on teaching the right answer.  It’s something to think about.  How will teaching information rather than strategy first help or hinder our kids as they further their education and live in the real world?

After all, giving the right answer is a skill for the obedient, the employee, the gopher.  But, divergent thinking, which requires brainstorming, strategics and figuring out the ‘hows’ of life are requirements for CEOs, entrepreneurs and community leaders.  How can we as mommies change this lean toward “right answer” teaching in our children’s schools?  Can you even recognize convergent thinking in your child’s schoolwork and homework?  One sign that your kid’s teacher is “converging” is when they say “we didn’t learn this in class” regarding their homework.

Considering the American education system is unlikely to change anytime soon, the power is in the hands of the mamas–again. It’s very important that we begin to teach our kids how to develop strategies for fixing life’s little kinks.  Give them problems around the house to solve.  Get their brains moving with  projects that help them develop their own processes and principles.  From something as small as a good place for everyone to put shoes when they come in the house to creating a water system for your garden, don’t under-estimate the power of your child’s minds.

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