I was thinking today that maybe I made a mistake about Elazar's computer. Maybe we should just get him a computer because it's an educational aid and it helps him do research and learn things. Because trying to teach him when he's not in the mood is painful for him and painful for me, and annoying to both of us.
I remember when I was in my 20s and I was idealistic and energetic about teaching. I felt like anyone could be coaxed into learning if I found their learning style and made it pleasant. But now it's 2 decades later and I feel like it doesn't make so much sense to try to coax children (or people) to learn things. How about you go play and learn/do whatever you want, and if you want me to teach you something, come over to me and I'll teach you whatever you want to learn. This way you're attentive and motivated, and it's efficient and painless.
I know there are many, many educational situations in life where people learn things that they would not have learned otherwise and gain tremendously and even change the course of their lives. I think there are wonderful teachers out there, trying to engage students, trying to motivate them, and that's great.
A friend of mine posted an article by Peter Gray that really does reflect a lot of my experiences with Elazar (and some other kids I've seen with diagnosed adhd).
- the ADHD characteristics don't vanish when the kids leave conventional school, but the characteristics are no longer as big a problem as they were before;
- ADHD-diagnosed kids seem to do especially well when they are allowed to take charge of their own education.
- children's behavior, moods, and learning generally improved when they stopped conventional schooling, not because their ADHD characteristics vanished but because they were now in a situation where they could learn to deal with those characteristics.
- The ADHD label is applied to two very different sorts of kids. One type really has "Attention Surfeit Disorder." Most of these get deeply involved in exactly what they want to do... They get labeled ADD not because they can't attend but because they have no coping mechanisms for enforced boredom..... The other type are simply physically active to the point of being problematic when quiet is called for.
This had me thinking, why am I bothering trying to get him to sit down? I know a lot of beginning unschoolers grapple with the questions of "will they ever learn to focus" "will they ever learn self-discipline if they can always follow their learning inclinations" "will they ever learn they have to do things they don't want to do." If I haven't already addressed these questions to your satisfaction, let me know and I can write more about it. For now, suffice it to say these questions no longer concern me. It's more the opposite: why am I attempting to motivate him when it's more efficient to just wait for his own motivation to carry him?
As I was thinking about this, I turned to Elazar and said that when we get home, I'd like to learn Torah with him a bit before he goes onto the computer. I asked him what he wants to learn and he grinned and said, "Shema!" We started reviewing it in the car and he reviewed what part of the pasuk means.