Thursday, March 26, 2009

Needle and thread and what's in a kid's head

As many of you know, I unschool, which is to say that I don't school my child. She learns from daily experience and gets zero direction from me as to what is important in her life to learn and be captivated by.

Today, she asked me how Mary, our neighbor, learned how to sew. I told her that Mary's mom taught her. The following dialog ensued:

Livy: Where did Mary's mom learn how to sew?
Dad: I reckon her mom (I knew where the conversation was going, but I don't like to lead the witness.)
L: Where did she learn how to sew?
D: From her mom, probably.
L: Somebody learned how to sew first.
D: Yep, somebody thousands of years ago was the very first person to think about how to do it. I think it was a person who used a tiny fishbone and put a hole in one end and then put some thread in that to make clothes faster and better. That was the very FIRST person, and then that person taught other people, and those people taught other people, and then after thousands of years, Mary's family and other families learned it, and that's how Mary learned how to sew.
L: Yep.
D: That's how the wheel was invented, too. "Invented" means somebody thought about it first, about how to take things in nature and create something from that. There are things made by nature, and there are things made by humans, and those things are called man-made, like needles, thread, wheels ...
L: And cars and tables and ... coffee makers.
D: Yep. Somebody thousands of years ago probably saw a rock rolling down a hill and thought "I wonder if I could make something like that that would roll so I can carry my food with me when I go places," so he or she came up with the idea to create a wheel, and then they made wagons and carts, and later people made bikes and cars with those wheels.
L: Yep.
D: Do squirrels make wheels and needles and tables?
L: Noooooooo, silly. They aren't smart like people.
D: Yep (laughing).

After this conversation, I realized yet again how much I love unschooling, watching the child's momentary wonderment and curiosity create an avenue of contemplation, reflection and insight -- and the giddy fun that follows. And I enjoyed yet again my own wonderment at what's in a kid's head.

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