Learning From Each Other

I just returned from a family reunion in which I passed time with the kids and youth, ages 4-18. I was entranced by the four-year-old’s earnest connection with numbers, telling me all he knew about 18 and a hundred on the one hand, and exploring insects with great fascination on the other. His six-year-old brother told me about planets and told me that 9 + 9 was 14. “You know what ten plus ten, is right?” I asked him (knowing that he did). “Yes–20,” he answered, and at that point he revised his answer to 18, his little brother’s favorite number.

Two girls, ages 9 and 11, joined in on the conversation, and talk turned to infinity and googles and googleplexes. Then the teens joined in. For me, it was yet another perfect moment — the youngest child’s love of numbers launched a whole discussion among all the kids about what they loved best about numbers. They shared ideas and stretched them. I just chimed in with questions and an occasional guiding thought or challenge (“Wow, you just counted backward by two! Can you count by threes also?”). I shared my own love of numbers and patterns, but also just listened, amazed as usual about how much kids know and share when they are passionate about things. They truly became each others’ teachers, without anyone even aiming to do so.

On a walk we noted a huge Douglas fir clinging to a steep hillside, roots exposed nearly as massive as the trunk itself–the tree doing all it could to keep a stronghold on the bank and support its towering weight. Questions spilled about that tree and its neighbors, and the nature of that steep bank (was it carved out for the road or was it natural?).

Again, all of us — young and old alike — learned from our shared ideas, our shared experience, and connected with each other in the process and with (in this case) the tree and the land itself.

The Wise Child Learning Program is about sharing these kinds of experiences. I aim to nourish each child’s imaginative inquiry, his or her unique perspectives and gifts, and to share from the roots of our passions. My aim is for us to experience a learning adventure — sharing ideas with one another, learning from each other, and connecting with each other in fun and compassionate ways, as well as with the earth that is our home. We will share stories and create stories, listen to each other, and listen to the plants, animals, the land. We’ll play with words, and adventure with academics but from the perspective of nature, music, imagination, projects.

Will your child or children be joining us this year?