Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Little Thomas Edisons

On Monday I told you about the book that revolutionized my homeschool, Dreamers, Discoverers and Dynamos. In the book, the author describes the life of Thomas Edison. Did you know Edison was kicked out of school—grade school—because his teachers considered him unable to learn? His mother brought him home and taught him what he needed to get by and then set him loose the rest of the day. Little Thomas spent those free hours exploring the world and pursuing the ideas that had kept him from concentrating in a boring school room.

Sure, he nearly blew up a neighbor kid and caused countless messes that I can only imagine made Mrs. Edison crazy. But what if she hadn’t seen that spark of something special in her little boy’s eyes? The teachers complained that he couldn’t sit still during his lessons (sound familiar to anyone?), and yet he sat still long enough to try hundreds of different materials for his incandescent light bulb. They said he couldn’t learn, but he picked up enough information to develop a phonograph.

Knowing these details of the life of someone I admire so much helped to see my job as a teacher from a totally new perspective. In the process of teaching our children, we are discovering them. Discipline problems should be dealt with swiftly, but chronic distraction shouldn’t always be in the same category as laziness or disrespect. Maybe the way teachers instruct children in a classroom isn’t the only way. Maybe we need to watch and pray and discover how our children best interact with information and the world around them.

For the child who struggles with daily lessons, try simplifying the lessons so he or she can spend time exploring what he or she loves. My son loved to build things, so once I understood that he was a divergent thinker, I allowed time for him to work on what our lesson had sparked in his mind. I decided I wanted to be Mrs. Edison instead of trying to force my son to be the kind of student I thought school should produce.

If you don’t mind hearing about this topic one more time, next week I’ll share some specific ideas that might help the homeschool mom with a potential Thomas Edison.

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