Thursday, August 18, 2011

How Children Fail

I've been reading John Holt's "How Children Fail" and have had a few epiphanies in the course of my reading. The book was recommended by a fellow TJed mom as a good precursor to "How Children Learn," which I'll be studying in my Abigail Adams Academy "Classic Mom's" Class. I know that I'll need to keep a sort of notebook or commonplace book for all my notes and writing, so I figured I would house it in blog form instead of hard copy.

First of all, as I begin the journey of a Thomas Jefferson Education with my children, I find myself gravitating over and over again to the conveyer belt. Today I decided we were going to "do school" as I had seen it done by another TJed mom. Obviously whatever I did I was doing it wrong, because J and A were just about as resistant and contrary as they ever have been. Even a reading lesson J asked for last night ended abruptly as he announced that it was boring and he wanted to stop. I have to keep telling myself that he is still in core phase. I just don't know how to "do" core phase. Yet. I've read all the books but implementation is a stickery place for me.

What I often find happening when I try to implement something new is that I begin to feel a tight, stressed feeling in my gut. I feel angry, impatient, forceful. The day feels like a failure. I know it is--not because my children have failed. I have failed. I have failed to keep myself in a place of faith and calm. The kids can feel that and they resist it. They feel the unspoken requirements pressing in on them and they push back.

I have to develop a strategy for when I do that. I need to just stop and read a book instead for the rest of the time. Reconnect and relax.

Holt notes that fear is one of the greatest impediments to learning. Stress shuts down a child's brain. I see that in J. The moment he feels stress he freaks out, whines, runs away from the situation. Reading in particular stresses him out. I can imagine he'll be a late reader. I just have to have faith that it'll happen on his own time table. Reconnect and Relax. We'll get there.

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