Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Learning Through the Simple Things

One of my key goals this year to teach the family how to explore and enjoy the simple things around them. I want them to learn something from every interaction, encounter and experience. I think that so much beauty in life passes us by because we don’t know how to observe and enjoy the lessons from simple things.

Miss Ant has a habit of just jumping into something without doing the research first, she likes to think she knows it all and can simply, just do anything. I have tried fighting her on this and believe me, I lose every time! So, I practiced what I was preaching and realised that I too do the same thing. Shock horror.

Now, I would like her to keep a fair amount of that attitude (after all, the kid has some definite spunk!), but I also want to teach her how to learn freely and openly. I want learning and observing (and pausing to do so!) to become second nature. I don’t want my kids to simply cruise through life and do only what’s expected of them, I want them to honestly ask the tough questions, I want them to ask why about everything, to feel emotions and I want them to explore! Simple you say? Not so. After 12 months of Miss Ant being in the public school system I saw how a child can lose all of those gifts. She stopped asking why, stopped wondering what was around the corner and she stopped caring. I am not blaming the school system, but it has forced me to take a look at what really is important in life, and that I simply can’t let us all cruise through life blindly – we need to live life consciously and we need to do it with a purpose.

Last week I had a breakthrough, one that might seem small to most but for me it was HUGE! Here's how the story goes:

I often browse through itunes, always on the hunt for music that was created by passionate and talented artists – artists that stand for something bigger than the $$$, across all genres and that are also kid-friendly….. I came across Bob Marley so downloaded ‘Buffalo Soldier’ mostly because I like it and I thought it would appeal to the kids (catchy tune, easy to sing along to etc). Now, what I do is put my music on my phone, so when we are in the car, I connect via blue-tooth and pass the phone to the kids to act as in-car DJs. The 1st time they played it they hummed along, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times Vince hummed and Ant was quiet. Highly irregular, but yet she kept putting it on, so she obviously liked it.  Then I get,

“Mum, that’s a sad song, it’s beat and tune are happy but the words are sad. Is this song about something true? Who stole them and who made them go to war? Why would anyone do that to another human being? I think the man singing this song is very wise and very intelligent. Mum, how many people hear that song and only hear the happy beat? How many of those people never listen to the words and learn his story? ”

And from there the questions started and my 6.5yr old is on her way to understanding/learning about (albeit on a ground level) Human rights, African/American civil rights, racism, exploitation and history, as well as a whole barrage of other things that come with the territory!  And I think it's a pretty fine example that whatever I am doing, it's working!  She's asking, she's caring, she's observing.......she's Learning.

Focus and acceptance that I had something to teach her!  Miss Ant practicing her new sketching skills :)

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