Friday, February 13, 2009

A visit to a museum...a lesson for mama....

It is so easy to believe something, and quite another thing to actually live by it...... 

 We went to a Natural History Museum today.  It is a wonderful gem in Lancaster, PA...the North Museum.   I really love it there (and most museums, in fact).  I love to explore the different displays and try to learn as much as I can about things.  Of course, some displays are naturally more interesting to me than others.  I'm very interested in dinosaurs and the Arctic but less interested in the florescent room (a strange room with florescent lights....check out my teeth!).  So, I was excited to show all of these exhibits to my 4 children, thinking that they too would find them very interesting and LEARN something from them.   I was a bit disappointed, then, when the kids raced past all of the "cool" exhibits, especially those that I was trying to EXPLAIN to them ("Look, guys, the skull of homo's evolution!!!").  

"Where are you going?" I asked.  

"Look!  A computer...," Amelia answered.  

They all made a beeline for some sort of monitor that they could manipulate.  For Ben, it was a show about whales that live in the Arctic.  He was able to move the mouse to choose what whale to spotlight.  It was really neat, and he especially liked the Narwhal whale and its large tusk.  Leah was watching a video about polar bears and their cubs (so cute!).  Maddie was doing an arctic quiz on a different computer, and Amelia was viewing icebergs on yet another manipulative display.

I was pretty upset that all they seemed to care about was the technology, but I tried to go with the flow.   At one point, I was trying to show Amelia the replica of the planets which is set up so cool with their distance from the sun and size in scale when my mom said to her, "Look.  Mommy is trying to teach you about something." Oh No! What was I doing?   I was, yet again, projecting my ideas onto my children.  Amelia didn't want to be shown anything; she wanted to EXPLORE!  I need to let them lead the way!!!  After all, I don't enjoy learning about things that don't interest me (certain required college courses come to mind here).  

I am working towards shifting my thoughts away from "What are they learning?" to "Everyone is always learning, all of the time!"  This is definitely a belief of mine.  Yet, having gone through the system and being surrounded by that same system, it is easy to doubt yourself and your young people.  But, I will continue to work towards TRUST!  Trust that they are learning exactly what they need to be, Trust that they will make their own path through life, and Trust that they will continue to love learning in its many different forms.

In the words of John Holt, "....teaching that has not been asked for will not result in learning, but will impede learning."  I believe this's remembering it that sometimes can be hard.  Thank you, Maddie, Amelia, Leah, and Ben, for reminding me!  


  1. Ah, the journey. How wonderful when our children show us the way. It's funny because we were at the Naural History Museum in Delaware yesterday.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. All in all we all had fun! The children learned a lot! I had great one-on-one time with Amelia!
    Everyone enjoyed the coin and ball drop. Great day! Love, Mom