Friday, August 15, 2008

The little school on the lawn

Last night, Jim, Danny and I were enjoying a cool and pleasant evening on the lawn. We spoke with some neighbors, who are fellow gardeners, as they passed on their evening walk. Danny made quick friends with Mr. Jerry and invented a game where he put a leaf in Mr. Jerry's hand, then slapped his hand. Mr. Jerry would stumble backward as if Danny's slap was so hard. What a kick for Danny.

Danny also learned to do a somersault, going down hill. He got a lesson in how to hold a golf club and putt from Jim. He pulled up handfuls of grass and "helped" me write numbers in the dirt with a stick. He ran down to the peach tree and said "Peach," looking for the peaches that have since been harvested and eaten by us and by squirrels. He followed and studied a baby frog that came along.

Just then, Jim got Dan in a bear hug and said, "Now this is school. I'm going to hold you down and tell you about everything that you see." Danny wasn't pleased, but was mildly amused as he wriggled from Jim's grasp to continue pursuing the baby frog.

Even in jest, it's amazing how spot on Jim is. I've been reading a book called "Learning All the Time" by John Holt. One passage that's stuck with me these past few days is his description of the two messages that active and uninvited teaching conveys to little children. One is distrust, as in "You're not smart enough to learn this without me teaching you." And the other is contempt, as in "You'd never be inclined to learn this if I didn't teach you."

What a horrible message to send children or anyone that you care about. And make no mistake, children are sensitive and smart enough to get the message.
Yes, it's that time of year again. Preseason NFL football is upon us. Dan gets into the spirit here.

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