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Wednesday, 02 August 2006



I'm very impressed my your and Amy's preferred mode of teaching. I am not against the utilization of learning "toys" to the extent you express unless they are used as substitutes for hands-on parenting. Nothing creates a better atmosphere for learning than love and encouragement. The problem I do have with the toys is that they tend to squelch creativity. A child who knows physics and can quote Shakespeare is disadvantaged if he/she isn't taught to use their imagination. For the record, if I had known long ago what I know now, I would have home-schooled my kids.


Tell them grannies to kiss your hiney (or however you spell it).

I arrived home from work yesterday to find Ben's oversized, padded alphabet tiles (very hard to describe) scattered about the living room floor. He was telling us the color and the letter on each, and then we went over some words that start with each.

We pride ourselves on the relatively tiny amount of TV our boy watches, so I was a bit aghast when Ben looked at a lion on the back of a Little Golden Book called "Saggy Baggy Elephant," and said, "That's Madagascar." He knows the name of the animal, but thanks to Dreamworks, now it has a different name. Oh well, at least calls a sea turtle a sea turtle, instead of a "whoa dude" (yes, somebody's kid does that).


Just got word from the wife. Ben's seen Madagascar twice -- in the theater when he was one, and at home after we got it on DVD.

Plus, when the heck do they use that word in the movie?

The only logical conclusion is that our 3-year-old boy can read.


If two years of teaching hadn't destroyed my ability to shed tears or feel emotion, this post would definately have brought a tear to my eye.

The Force bless you Simon!


To be fair to the grannies, there was never the same emphasis on preschool learning when we were young, nor the sheer amount of media and educational programming there is now. We were not expected to know how to read when entering kindergarten. I remember being anomalous for having that skill - as was my mother for using 'flash cards' with me!


Kids are such wonderful little learning sponges. Provide a friendly, rich environment for them to learn and they will do it. I worry because so much of what kids do now is mediated by adults - TV and video games instead of games they make up; sports teams instead of real, creative play; art classes instead of fooling around with paper, crayons and glue.

My issue with school is that children have such diverse talents, but if their innate talents don't fit the school mold (say they are not good at reading or math, but they can balance on one hand, knit, lead groups of people) they will feel stupid because their grades will be bad. I know so many people who have spent lifetimes trying to get over the damage that school did to their self-esteem.


Mark, unlike your boy, Declan watches far too much television. Mostly his Pixar movies. Many of the scenes of which he is able to emote several seconds before the action starts. Scary, almost. Though not, thankfully, to the "whoa,dude" degree.

Alec, only two years and you're already shriven of most emotion? I can't wait to see what you're like when you've been teaching for a decade. Assuming you're still alive.

Paula, it's almost like you're calling yourself a granny in your comment! And I know how Not-Old you are. I should hope that Dex will have at least rudimentary reading skills by the time he starts kindergarten. Shakespeare by grade 2.

Suebob, that's exactly what's at the heart of my fear for pushing my boys through the public school system. Cookie cutters are only good for making cookies.


It's Marian here but I'm on Rick's computer today. I feel that most kids have a natural burning desire to learn and great curiosity. It's not as though anyone has to incite that in them. What we do need to be careful of is our well-known adult ability to destroy said enthusiasm through over-structuring and the other ways Suebob mentioned up there.

Max has been extremely fortunate in that he's had fantastic teachers all through his 13 years of school. Unbelievable luck for the most part, and a few duds. I can count the bad teachers on one hand. Many of the really excellent ones were men, which I also count as great luck for a boy — having so many good, male role models.

I'll be forever grateful to those people.


I vigourously deny ever calling myself a granny! There is, however, an undeniable focus on earlier achievement where our children are concerned that we didn't experience growing up. I saw this firsthand when my daughter in Grade 6 last year was studying math concepts I remember first learning in high school.

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