Guerrilla Learning

When I was working and coming home for lunch, Andrea and I normally reserved meal times for conversation whether it was with her or among the whole family. Alot of the time we would catch up on how our morning or afternoon had gone. Since I’ve been home alot more, Andrea has been reading at lunch. Often when she’s reading something and finds something she thinks I’ll like, she reads it out loud. If I’m reading, I do the same. I think we both enjoy reading aloud and being read to. There is also having the comfort of having someone to share a good thought with.Over the weekend she read 2 things to me at one meal. The first one was:

People learn to write well not by studying grammar, sentence structure, and spelling but by reading good writing and trying to imitate it. Reading and writing are inextricably linked…

There are few things that come along that feel better than having someone who is considered an expert say something you have been telling people for years. Oddly, this fits so well with a quote from Finding Forrester:

Why is it the words we write for ourselves are always so much better that those we write for others?

I think at least a partial answer to that is in the fact that often when we write for others, our first concern is with grammar, sentence structure and spelling. When we write for ourselves, we have something we want to express. And, the technicalities of writing take a back seat to what we need/want to say.

For many, blogging offers the opportunity through both reading and writing to discover the knack of writing well. It will only take a few months of reading to discover the type of writing one likes to read. From there, when writing in ones own blog, the tendency to frame things the way one likes to read them will naturally develop. Formality and structure are secondary.

The second thing Andrea read was:

Teach your children to listen carefully and to speak thoughtfully. The best way to teach this is to listen carefully and speak thoughtfully to your children, from the time they are babies. It’s never too late to begin this practice. (emphasis mine) … Above all, listen, listen, and listen to your kids. (emphasis autor)

When I did the home ed workshop last year, listening to and responding to your children was one of the primary messages I wanted to convey to the audience. In an effort to summarize that workshop, I may have reduced the significance of that point. I did not leave it out entirely, though.

The fifth chapter is called ‘Demonstration’. Its statement was, ‘Those who are seeking to train people must be prepared to have them follow.’ Has anyone ever told you they couldn’t homeschool because their children won’t listen to them? Even though I really had no idea what impact it would have on my children, I can remember back in the days when the older three were going to turn 6, 3, 1. Every day, when I got home from work, there they would be just inside the door, all talking to me at once (including the noises of someone who crawled there), and telling me what was important to them in their day. At 17, 14, 12 and 4 they still ‘check in’.

When I elaborated on this point in the workshop, I asked how would you expect children to listen if you don’t listen to them. Children who are listened to and taken seriously, will listen and take you seriously. The only leadership skill worth having is setting an example. It is the only form of leadership which exists in our absence.

While this was sitting on draft, Carlotta wrote (in part)

I respect the choices of my child because he is a human being. What quality about him means that he should only be viewed as something that only lives fully in the future? I do not believe that there is any vastly different quality in children that distinguishes them from adults…

and Clare wrote (in part)

I have only had 2.5years experience of being a mother, but I can say most definitely that respecting my child’s choices and needs is easy, enjoyable, relatively unstressful etc. etc. It makes for a toddler who respects other people and who don’t have tantrums here there and everywhere.

What more needs to be said?

Author: Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.

2 thoughts on “Guerrilla Learning”

  1. I so wholly agree with everything you’ve put here. R’s language is often commented on as being clear, precise and relatively advanced. I don’t think she’s special though, I just think it’s because she’s been listened to and talked to as if what she has to say is as important and valued as what an adult has to say – not becuase we are humouring her, but because we are genuinely interested in her, and in what she thinks and believes, because we are genuinely interested in her as a person and in learning what sort of a person she is. She doesn’t spend hours in front of a non-responsive tv; she doesn’t spend hours with a large group of other children with only a few adults around to chat to, who are all more interested in keeping order in the class-room; she isn’t growing up with carers who think she’s a bind to them. I sound like I think I’m perfect again! But I don’t, I just love my children and want to know about them and feel priveleged when they tell me things.

    Re. literacy – I have always always believed in the reading good English thing. The people I know with the best grammar, and particularly the best spelling, are people who read and read and read just for fun. A love I hope we are passing onto our children by reading with them, to them and in front of them and in finding pleasure in it every time. And reading books to them that they know well and enjoy also helps their language I’m sure 🙂


  2. Clare, we’ve always talked to our kids like they are people, and it shows! I don’t think my kids are incredibly gifted or intelligent either (although they are smart), I believe it’s how we’ve treated them.

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