Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while! It’s time for Coffee and Conversation!
When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.
I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..
So, what do you think of when you read the word ‘infinity’? How about ‘cookies’?
While I was typing the above, my son was baking 1,092.4 cookies/second.
So far, he’s baked almost 800,000 cookies in about an hour.
How is this possible?
Well, he’s playing a game called Cookie Clicker. In it, he can farm cookies, mine cookies, import cookies from the cookie world, operating cookie factories, hiring grandmas to bake cookies, and buying magical floating cursors…
925, 000 cookies, now!
Can he get to a point where his cookie count approaches infinity? Maybe not…but…then again…
Sometimes I chuckle and shake my head when I remember that there was a time, early in our homeschooling, when I worried about whether he could ever learn math. After all, I had trouble in math, beginning with memorizing multiplication tables, continuing on to long division – and then, there was algebra, and everything that followed. As I’ve said before, I wrote some great erotica in high school math…
3.718 million cookies…
What I didn’t know, back then, is that the nature of the math that I was thinking about was very different than the math that exists in life. Truly, school math is ‘rithmetic… it’s introduced by a schedule set up in advance, that has no awareness of the realities of the children who will be taught.
I didn’t understand the difference between teaching – something done to someone – and learning – something someone does, internally. I didn’t yet understand that the reason my son, at 7, was having trouble with places (ones, tens, hundreds, and so forth), not because he was a poor student, or because I was a bad teacher, but instead because the material wasn’t relevant to him, and the approach I was using was just not comprehensible to him. Maybe, he wasn’t ready, at that point, even though the What Your Second Grader Needs to Know book said he ought to be.
7.924 million cookies…
The thing is that different people learn different things at different times. The thing is that different people learn different things in different ways. The thing is that different people need to know different things, for different reasons.
The thing is that kids aren’t students nearly as much as they are people.
At 13, while playing this game, he’s learning a great deal. Buying and banking. Utilizing available resources. Muttiplication. Decimals and percentages. Profit margins and acceptable risks. Exponential growth. Goal-setting and attaining the goals, or adapting.
That’s just what I can think of, off the top of my head ,while the clicking goes on a few feet away from me.
You see, real learning is – well, real. It’s relevant – to the learner, and not the curriculum. Sure, kids can be taught to memorize and parrot back that information long enough to pass the test – but is that real learning?
Yes, my son’s playing a game. But this game, right now, is very important to him. He’s learning to achieve a goal of his own design, for his own reasons.
21.51 million cookies is quite an achievement, after all, for under two hours of play! Not infinite, but certainly a lot!
What do you think? Is it more valuable to teach kids ‘by the book’, or to allow them to learn what they need, when they need it?
And why do I suddenly want a cookie? 😉