The Learning Puzzle

Imagine if kids loved learning… Imagine if we had loved learning. Consider how the educational system we grew up under has relied on long-obsolete notions and assumptions of the nature of children, how they learn, that they, by nature, resist learning.

What they resist is the system, not the learning. But association kills the love of knowing new things, and costs students the great feelings of accomplishment and empowerment, the exhiliration of that AH-HA! moment when a new thing suddenly clicks.

The world we come into, it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle with no outer edge or certain shape. Education helps us put the pieces together. And there is no picture on the box, there isn’t even a box. The more pieces we can acquire, the more of the big picture we can assemble; the fewer pieces, we have so much less ability to comprehend even the smaller bits, to understand how they all fit into the one.

Students need teachers to show them how to work the puzzle, how to distinguish the pieces that really fit from the ones that only almost fit, but really don’t. Teachers can show them how to organize the pieces to focus on one area or another, and put aside pieces that don’t actually fit or match the colors, textures and shapes they are working on.  Students need clues, they need glimpses of the whole, or parts of the whole as they work, and teachers can give them this, too.

But a good teacher won’t tell the student what to see, or put the pieces together for them. Maybe one, a last or connecting piece, once in a while, to let the student experience that Ah-Ha! moment that melts doubt and frustration away and makes the learning process worth the work. 

Good educators, whether they are professional teachers, or parents, or others who have the care of children, always, always let the child be a child. They let the person be the person that they are, challenging not their essence, but their comfort zones.  

This is true also for how each of us learns on our own, how we educate and grow and empower our own inner child. 

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