I’ve been sitting around while M’s at her chess course and I’ve been doing lots of reading. I’m in the middle of Ross Mountney’s Learning Without School and came across a paragraph that struck a chord with what I’ve been mulling over recently:
“Some parents believe that it is not valuable, or acceptable, to coerce children into activities that they have no interest in and consider that is more likely to damage their desire to learn, than it is to develop their education.”
In the case of our two girls, if you asked M to do something she wasn’t interested in, she would certainly do it diligently and well but there would be no love or enjoyment in it. If you asked the same of D you would just get an outright ‘No’. And bribery doesn’t work with D.
I realised that school wasn’t working for M when she said she didn’t enjoy learning anything. And we were paying for her to go to a top-notch school! Up until then I was prepared to stick it out with the tears in the evening. Looking back on this now I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I just assumed her time at school would be pretty rubbish, like mine was.
However, I went back to university in my twenties and really really enjoyed learning for the first time in my life. I realised I wanted my daughters to feel this way about their education too. Which was why we chose a top school: to give our daughters the best education possible. However it just didn’t seem to suit M, like putting a square peg in a round hole. It was a light-bulb moment when I realised that perhaps I could inject a bit of enjoyment into M’s learning.
Now, to follow this thought through, do I get M and D to follow a curriculum (as was my original plan – to keep in line with their peers and eventual readiness for the 11+) even if they show no interest or enjoyment in the subject? Or should I stick to doing what they enjoy as I certainly don’t want to kill off their desire to learn?! Answers on a postcard, please…