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Friday, January 30, 2015

Love Of Life, Of Learning



Back in the summer between seventh and eighth grade, my mom, dad, little brother and I traveled out west to the Bad Lands, and further west to Yellowstone National Park and then north to Glacier National Park.  We had a Winnebago travel trailer we hitched up to the car and alternated camping with spending some nights in motels because my mom didn’t care for camping.  It was a great trip.  Saw a lot.  Learned a lot.

At Yellowstone, one of the stops was Old Faithful where I learned it wasn’t as faithful as its name.  It went off on an irregular pattern, so I guess because it did spout off irregularly, it was rather faithful.  Perhaps a better name might have been Old Mostly Faithful or Old Kinda Irregularly Faithful.  I became curious as to why it spouted in the first place, so my dad and I purchased some pamphlets and books and talked to the park rangers.

The following fall, the seventh and eighth grade science classes at my school competed in a science fair and for it, my dad and I recreated Old Faithful using a coffee pot.  It was a pretty cool design and thankfully, my dad was a designing engineer so he helped me with some of the mechanical parts of it.  Mostly I did the project with his guidance.  It was great working with him and I think he had as much fun as I did.

Looking back at it and at other events in my life, I think one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was a Love Of Learning.  Kind of a curiosity of why and how and who.  I’ve been fortunate to have carried that passion with me throughout life and I work to satisfy that “itch” whenever I get the opportunity.

Love Of Learning.  The curiosity of why and how and who.

I think that as parents, as adults, and as educators, one of the greatest gifts we can give to kids is the Love Of Learning.  The gift of wonder about the world in which they live and love and play.  The curiosity of why things take place, of how things work or don’t, and of who- lots to learn about who.

It is more than the memorization of facts, although at times, the memorization of facts can be important. But isn’t it better to manipulate those facts into constructs, and work those constructs into problems to solve?  Isn’t it more important to question a belief and perhaps learn that the belief that had been held was faulty?

An example is an activity that takes place in two classes- AP English Language.  In one activity, students are given a passage to read.  After reading the passage, one activity would be to decide individually, then as a group, which of the multiple choice questions was true, and perhaps, more true.  Students have to rationalize.  They have to convince their classmates that their argument, their answer is better than one held by someone else.  They listen respectfully, and then they discuss and argue thoughtfully.  Only after decisions have been made does the teacher get involved and give what was the right answer and at that point, students might still discuss and argue their point of view. 

My daughter in college takes a basic math class in preparation for teaching at the elementary level.  For her tests, not only does she have to answer the problem correctly, but she then has to write a narrative of how she arrived at the answer and give a step by step explanation of how she might teach that problem to her students.

Love Of Learning, Of Life.

As adults and as teachers, we can give our children the answers.  We can construct tests and have our kids answer them and move through them fairly thoughtlessly.  And after the test, the information is forgotten because it didn’t have any meaning beyond that test.  Or, we can have them do activities that push and pull on their thinking, move their heart and hands as well as their head.

It’s sort of like parents telling one of their kids to do something and when the kid asks, “Why?” the parent says, “Because I said so!”  The child might acquiesce to the demand.  The child might follow the rule.  But other than that the adult is the boss, what has the child learned or gained?

I contend that by providing meaningful activities and problems of life to children, not only do we teach them a Love Of Learning, we also teach them a Love Of Life.  Because in order to live, truly live, we- each of us, young and old alike- have to ask why and how and who.  We have to seek answers, not only the right and correct answers, but answers that can be equally right and correct and fit us as individuals.  And that ain’t easy!  But in the end, it is as rewarding for the parent, the adult and the teacher as it is for the child.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Thanks for checking out and following my blog.  I appreciate it and hope you find it thought-provoking and meaningful.  I have to admit that among my many posts, I have favorites, and I hope you do also.  Please feel free to share them with your friends and family, and point them in my direction.

Also, thank you for taking the time to check out my two works of fiction, Taking Lives and Stolen Lives.  Because they are thriller fiction, they are very different from my blog, but to me, equally satisfying and while disturbing, I hope they are thought-provoking for you in a scary sort of way because being in education for 38 years, I have made a daily commitment of trying to educate kids and keep them safe.

There have been several positive reviews of Taking Lives: “This is one book that will stay in your mind long after you've finished reading it.” and “This book keeps the readers intrigued. The characters seem so real, Can't wait for the next one to come out.”  It can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MG2JAWE?ie=UTF8&at=aw-android-pc-us-20&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links

There have been several positive reviews of Stolen Lives: “Joseph Lewis has created a cast of characters that you grow to care about. Their story is filled with twists and turns that keep you reading. When the book ends you will be left anticipating the next one! This was a story I could not put down!” and “I am really glad I happened to see this Trilogy while looking through my Kindle unlimited series. Great strong characters, especially George and Brett. Looking forward to reading more from this author.”   It can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Lives-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00PKKN6W4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415908221&sr=1-1&keywords=Stolen+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis

JL

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe