Sunday, 16 August 2009

Learning How to Learn.

A couple of days ago we went to a big park we often visit close to our home.
The girls ran in the grass, pretended to fish in the river, played pooh sticks on the bridge and climbed trees in the meadow.

Seraphina had a lot of fun balancing on a fallen log.

The girls decided to put the money they would have used for a train ride into the Instead of Box.

On the way back to the car the girls stopped at a huge tree stump. There were little green shoots growing out of the side of the stump.

It must have been around 1000 years old before it fell to the axe. Emmy tried to count the rings. The wide rings of wet years, the narrow rings of dry.

This tree could have told some stories. What souls may have taken shade under it's canopy of leaves in years gone by. What battles won and lost, loves found? How many children must have climbed it's once willowy branches?

Seraphina and Matilda became tigers immediately, digging and scratching in the dirt and grass. The families passing us by on the way to the adventure playground must have been bemused to see two little girls covered in dry dirt crawling on the ground and making a camp out of an old tree stump!

Emmy grabbed a stick and started to twist it on the log to make an indentation to make a fire with. The wood got really warm and smelled of damp charcoal after a little while.

The fascination and concentration with which the little ones played was wonderful. I felt bad dragging them away from their game.

I thought of how anxiously we tend to rush, at times, from activity to activity, sensual thrill to sensual thrill. We teach our children to follow a pattern, that leads from one organized activity to another. All the way from the playground to the theme park to the movie theatre.
We believe we are building our children's intelligence but we are force feeding a regime. One that they will be a slave to as an adult.
Pit stops of overstimulating pleasure that leave residues of discontent till the next thrill arrives to distract.

I remember seeing a little boy, the other day, trying to stop at a puddle, he kept letting his little hand slip from his father's grasp so that he could pick up a pebble and throw it in the water.
The father, intentions nothing but good, pulled his little son away. "come on we want to get to the swings don't we?"
The little boy just wanted a moment to fully engage with his environment, absorb it's limitations and explore it's possibilities.

So we drag the child through the puddle they want to paddle in and over the tree stump that tells stories, across the bridges and over the fences.

The truly important becomes nothing but a hurdle to overcome.

I looked at my girls digging in the dirt, counting tree rings, building pretend fires and laying down upon the stump of a near 10000 year old tree, cut down for the sake of making a quick route into the playground and picnic area and I found myself saying out loud.... "You know they are learning how to learn".