January 17, 2011

A Desk and a Room

One of the best things we did this year was to purchase desks for the boys and put them in a room we call the "School Room". It was a hard choice for me because I was very adament about making learning a lifestyle and desks just screamed institution!. Then to have a school room just brings school home which is just to opposite of what we are trying to do with our education. I should not have been so concerned....the boys love the desks. As soon as Zak saw one in the store he sat down at it and said in such a determined tone "This is mine!" At that moment, it struck me that perhaps my view on education wasn't the only view to consider in our education system. Perhaps Zak had something to show me. Perhaps I needed to let go of my ideals and let the boys create the educational environmet that appealed most to them, even if it did look alot like a school.

The boys were all very energetic about having a space to themselves to manage, to store stuff in and to call their own. It revealed such interesting characteristics about each one that I found it delightful and fascinating to observe how they went about it. My very sequential one was a pack rat and very messy. My random one was a minimalist putting on his desk only the most useful and needed items. My oldest was just what you woud expect, tidy and reasonable.

I find desk help us daily to learn orderliness and organization. At the close of each day of lessons they are not free to play until the desk is in order. To help with this, I purchased these colored plastic folders one for each subject and they keep much of their finished work or ongoing work in these in a self just below their desk. They were given waste baskets to keep track of their garbage, and I provided several tin cans to store pens and scissors etc in. Now they have a place to put their school  tools and work outside of lesson time. They are now more in contact with their lesson materials. Often they will return during the day to color unfinished pictures, or play with some of the games we have played during lesson times. I love how this puts learning more into their hands.
I have a cabinet with my stuff in there too. I love having all my materials right there close at hand while I am teaching. I love sitting at the work table in the middle of the room, planning lessons with fun red and white striped curtains smiling down on me, and everything right at my finger tips. When lessons are over the rest of my house is still intact, clean, orderly. It has not been disturbed by art lessons or projects that left cuttings all over the floor. The dinning room table is not another job to do before I can get to preparing lunch. I can leave a school project behind closed doors and get lunch on the table in no time at all and then we can pick up on that project later when we have time for it.

I have learned that it isn't  the furniture or a room that dictates what kind of education you will be doing, but the ideas and desires that lie within you and your children which sets you on your course. Structures, furniture and other exteranl things are servants that enable us to reach our goals. A desk and a room are not a definition but a way to stay organized and thus go more swiftly onward towards a life full of new ideas laced with rich stories and wonderful projects that who knows...... may change the world!

1 comment:

  1. Your school room looks great. And you are right. Having desks won't harm your desire to create a learning atmosphere in your home. :-)