Monday, July 30, 2007

Don’t Let My Cat Eat My Wasp

I have been doing a poor job of blogging. I keep wanting to, but then I don’t do it for whatever reason. I keep making it more complicated than it needs to be. I am used to the privacy of livejournal where I can just let my guts spill and not worry. This is different. I am trying to get used to it.

Anyway, lately I have been feeling all gushy about our unschooling lifestyle. Today, for example, Syd found a wasp with nonworking wings. She gently coaxed it onto a small, upturned basket and then offered it a little measuring cup of water and some sugar. She was fascinated as she watched the wasp eat the sugar and then drink the water. This led her to experiment with different things. She came in excitedly wondering what would happen if she offered it honey…and blackberries…and cereal…and...on it went. As she went to gather the different potential wasp foods she yelled, “Hey mom, don’t let my cat eat my wasp, please.” No problem, Syd.

She came back in from picking some blackberries wondering out loud if she could keep the wasp as a pet. She concluded, on her own, that the wasp was a wild animal and needed to be free--injured or not. She took it into the backyard to set it free, but was afraid that it might not be from a local hive (I think she was confusing wasps with bees, but she will figure that out soon enough) and was worried the other wasps would kill it. She set it down and kept a close eye on it. She reported that it “wiggled its butt all around and I think it means it was calling its friends.” Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, she was learning in a concrete and lasting way. And the good news is that the wasp’s wings were not actually damaged. After a bit it just flew off. She decided that its wings must have been damp because after some time in the sun it took off. This was her observation and logical conclusion.

Later tonight or next week or in two years she might actually look up wasps and learn a little more, but for today the lesson is over and she owns what she learned. It won’t fade when the test is over because there is no test. She learned about her wasp because she was interested and it was fascinating to her. She wasn’t forced to learn about wasps by some expert somewhere who has decided after much research that at age 9 children should know about insects. She didn’t have to fill in some stupid worksheet on bees and wasps. She didn’t have to answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Nope. She just learned because she actually wanted to and she will retain whatever was important to her. I would be willing to bet that soon this child that is addicted to documentaries and nature shows will round up one on wasps and bees and fill in the gaps of her knowledge.

But for now she is outside swinging the hose around while Sophie, the dog, tries to catch the water in her mouth. And our unschooling day continues…

No comments: