Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Education a la Ben

When Benjamin Franklin was young, his father took him around town to observe various tradesmen at their work, to learn about the various trades and see if any of them appealed to Ben. We often end up getting the same kinds of “lessons” here at home when we call in tradesmen. Kids (boys especially) seem to like watching people do their work, especially when they are working with their hands. This morning, two guys came to repair our garage door, and they had two “helpers” (Brother Bear and Angel Bear) observing, questioning, and chatting the entire time. They were surprised when Brother Bear said “Is this how it works…” and proceeded to describe the mechanics of the opener correctly, with no previous explanation from the pros.

I always appreciate adults who don’t mind sharing what they’re doing with our kids. I try to convey to the boys the importance of not interfering with people when they’re working, but they seem to just NEED to be involved in whatever is going on, whether it’s a garage door repair or the local tree guys delivering and stacking fire wood or the power company coming out to replace a blown transformer after a lightening strike (that was really cool). It’s kind of a shame there aren’t more opportunities for kids to observe adults in their daily work, because it gives them a sense of how the world, or at least our local society, works and continues to roll along even when we’re not aware of the work going into it. It gives them an opportunity to figure out how things work by talking directly to the people who do it every day. And, it gives them the opportunity to engage with adults. Real adults in the real world.

This, for me, is one of the many hearts of homeschooling. Having the kids engaged and fluent in the Real World from day one. Being part of what’s going on every day, rather than waiting until they graduate before they start the process of being a member of society. Seeing first hand, and possibly even lending a hand, in the stuff of keeping things on track and working, rather than reading about it in a textbook, or not learning about it at all. Garnering the confidence to reach out to adults on an equal footing, offering assistance and conversation in exchange for transfer of knowledge, and never being shy about approaching an “expert” to learn from and exchange ideas with on any subject which may peak their interest. Thank you, Education Goddess, for allowing us the privilege of home schooling.

Now, here comes my shameless plug. I was so pleased with the service we received, with the manners and willingness of the technicians to include the boys in their work, that I have to give full marks to Advance Overhead Door Company (phone 770-962-5600). And a special, great, big “thank you” to brothers Mack and Joe (who work for dad). Our boys adore you, and especially Joe’s very cool, glow-in-the-dark Batman tattoo. You guys are the best!

Ain’t life rich? And, sometimes you don’t even have to leave home to partake.

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