“Mommy!!! BUG!!!” Thea screams at me as we walk around our deck. “Lookit mommy, bug,” she runs to me grabs my hand and pulls me near. Behold; the lifelong learner.
Children are naturally curious; if you give them a box they are not allowed to open, they will beg and beg until they finally get to peek inside. If you tape a box on the floor of your classroom, they will continue to guess at its purpose even past the big reveal. Children do not need rules to be curious, or even strategies. They are born with this ability. Now as educators we may fine-tune these skills but schools cannot take credit for their natural curiosity.
So why is it so many schools have a vision statement that includes “creating lifelong learners?” Why this need to take credit for something they have not indeed created? Do schools really think that children are not learners when they first enter the hallowed hallways and they therefore need to be fixed? What an offensive statement to parents everywhere. Yet schools and the rigidity of some classrooms can often be the reason that the lifelong learner is stymied. Schools end up breaking the child’s curiosity only to try to take credit for it being re-built.
I would like to see a school with a vision that declares they want to “maintain lifelong learners.” I would like to see a vision in which children are recognized as the insatiably curious learners they truly are. We have to change our schools to allow time for curiosity and true exploration. We are not in the business of creating robots, and yet, that is the direction our government wants to push us. Bring back the curiosity, maintain the lifelong learner, and perhaps then our system wont seem so broken.