Noah started reading when he was 3. When he was almost 4, he could write his own name. Between ages 4 and 5, he learned the basics of reading and writing and started to put small sentences together. By age 5, he could read simple children’s books. At the current age of 6, he was able to follow the captions to the movie Lalaland, which we watched together last week. Last year at school he learned how to add and subtract and at home I taught him how to multiply and divide.
Noah is a fast learner and I think it’s kind of cool.
But, is this really important at this point? Would there had been any consequences if he had started to learn to read and write at age 6 or 8 rather than age 3? Does he have to know how to add and subtract at 6?
Noah has been sitting at a desk, staring at a whiteboard and doing homework since he was 3.
I had no other choice but to put him in school. Compared to other possibilities, school was cheaper. But, I pay a price.
At the age of 6 (and the preceding years), I believe that kids should play. They should create and build and search and discover and pretend and imagine and be curious and PLAY. They should run and climb trees and fall and play ball and swim and be active. They should make friends and interact and socialize. They should sing and dance and paint and draw and act. They should even get bored – something kids don’t have the luxury of doing nowadays.
Instead of coming home with drawings, paintings and new games to play from school, Noah brings two textbooks and 6 or 7 pages of homework to do every single day.
Again, he’s 6.
I want him to read. I want him to learn through books. As far as I know, that’s where real knowledge is and that’s one of the ways we cultivate imagination.
As part of homework, Noah now has to watch videos on my phone. Augmented reality is now a school subject and smartphones are the new books.
Noah loves to sing and dance and paint and act. But, school hasn’t supported or encouraged him in these activities. Originality and uniqueness are not praised; they are contained. Everyone has to wear the same clothes, sing the same songs and on recitals, they all play the same part.
It’s all backwards.
Schools are not striving to nurture creative human beings. They want to create disciplined students who are great at memorizing historic dates and who’ll get into the best universities when they’re 18. Which will be hard, since none of them will excel in anything, for they will have always learned to stay at the same level as the others. We’re settling for average.
So it seems that we are not raising children; we are breeding adults. And not very good ones, mind you.
We’re not raising thinkers; we’re breeding memory champions. We’re not teaching curiosity; we’re celebrating obedience. We’re not nurturing talents; we are striving for average. We are not cultivating their art – in whatever form that may be; we are demanding an A+ on math.
School may not prioritize art, creativity and movement in Noah’s daily life. And I no longer expect them to.
But, as long as he’s with me, we will live as curious adventurous artists every day. I’ll make sure of it.
To hell with school.
This afternoon (Saturday), Noah and I came home from lunch and we stayed downstairs for a while. Our building has coconut trees and there were a few of coconuts on the grass, at the bottom of this little hill. We picked up about 10 of them and started throwing them from the top to see which ones rolled faster down the hill. It was a coconut race. He won every time. Then, we came up to the apartment and laid down on the sofa with our books and read together for about 40 minutes. While I’m writing, he is still on the couch, reading.
We are making our own art.
PS: For my own sake, I hope he doesn’t decide to become a doctor or an engineer.