When I was little I couldn’t decide if I would be an author, a librarian, a mummy or a teacher when I grew up.
So far I have had one chapter published in a book and I wrote religiously almost every day for fifteen months as we travelled round the world (hardly makes me an author!)
I straighten enough books on our shelves each day that I could lay claim to being a librarian.
I am definitely a mummy (there’s no escaping that one – if I manage to hide from three of the children, there are still five more looking for me)…..and I am teaching.
That is to say, our children don’t go to school.
My fear with each of these things was always that I wouldn’t know enough. That I would run out of ideas to write about or that I would never know *all* the books in the library (as I perceived the librarians did) or that I wouldn’t know that blue made something white (how DID my mother know that when my sister brought the question home from school?….and how did the teacher know to pose that question in the first place?) I thought I’d never know that much.
Those thoughts above are from me aged approximately nine years.
Looking back, I can sense a thirst to know.
But I can see that I had already learnt the experts know best.
I was losing my own questions and wondering if I would ever ask the right questions.
I learnt to excel in that system.
All the way through to degree-level.
Check out these examples of knowing little, but still getting A grades:
- Stage One Maori language oral exam.
I had studied the previous years’ picture selections and noticed there was a picture of a vegetable stand or market or shop in every single year. So I composed myself a speech about “the red tomoato is next to a green lettuce” and was oozing confidence as I entered the exam room.
Unfortunately, there were no vegetable pictures. But there was a street scene with car crash.
“The boy is on the street. There are many cars. There is a blue car. There is a red car. But there is not a green one. Oh, look. (pointing off to the side of the picture!) Over there is a market. The lady is selling vegetables. There is a red tomato next to the green lettuce.” and. so. on.
Did the examiner not realise why I talked about tomatoes instead of the car crash?
- Stage Three Linguistics exam.
The two lecturers who ran this paper were enlightened. Despite being American, they did not believe in multi-choice. They did not even believe in exam questions being a surprise. So I knew I would have to write a comparison of two famous linguists, covering as many issues in the field as I cared to. I also knew I had trouble remembering who believed what about this, that and the other. I did not, however, have trouble remembering the lecturers’ grand spiels in class. They were both lively sorts, each with a distinctive style and special little sayings. So I called them famous linguists and proceeded to jot down some transcripts of their lectures! I captured their personalities and even some of their ideas – but this was not a creative writing class, it was supposed to be linguistics! You’d have thought I’d at least mention Chomsky once or twice. I don’t remember.
Over the years I have applied myself to learning things.
Not for credit. Just because I want to know.
I wanted to learn to think.
And I hope to teach my children to think too. Strongly believing that noone can be forced to learn, we attempt to lead our children into a delightful love of learning so that they will be self-motivated to learn whatever they need. One primary means of doing this is by setting the example. While we have always lived the example of learning through life, I have only recently begun blogging about it (one day the end of this sentence will need to be changed to read “it was not until 2007 that I started recording my learning in the form of a blog.”) *off the BOOKshelf* seemed an apt name for learning that takes place when books are *removed* from the shelf and opened and studied and digested, and it also highlights the fact that some learning has nothing to do with books at all.
Here’s a wee record of parts of my learning journey and my children’s too.