Tag Archives: lifelong learning

Adventures in Learning

I have never been physically adventurous; never dived off a high cliff, surfed a rolling wave or bungeed into an abyss; I don’t like heights and get no thrill from the thought of a roller-coaster ride. I don’t believe it’s fear that holds me back. It’s lack of interest and opportunity: I never sought it and it never sought me.

When I was very little I earned the nickname “Possum” because, apparently, I was a climber and constantly getting into mischief. I soon had that knocked out of me by a combination of physical and verbal admonitions. Perhaps this contributed to my dislike of heights, but I think my disinclination for the adrenalin rush of physical activities was inborn.

Fear probably does contribute to my reluctance to participate in other height related activities such as parasailing, hang gliding, gliding and hot air ballooning. Each of these does have a certain amount of appeal and I think I would love the experience, if I was brave enough to take the leap. One day perhaps.

Not only were my explorations through climbing curtailed, I was also discouraged from conducting my own investigations and from asking questions. While my parents encouraged reading through library membership and giving books as gifts, my father was often heard to say, “What you don’t know won’t do you any harm.” Though I read avidly, self-selected material was almost exclusively fiction. Non-fiction was the realm of textbooks set for study in boring school subjects with enforced memorisation for regurgitation in exams and then promptly forgotten.

Fortunately, I gained some sense of the limitations of my own experiences and thinking and endeavoured to avoid limiting my own children in similar ways. Only they will be able to say how much their experiences and learning were restricted. Neither is into extreme physical challenges and I certainly didn’t provide them with opportunities that may have encouraged such activities. However, I did encourage them to be curious, to ask questions and to investigate. I closed the door on thinking that revered ignorance and opened the one for adventures into learning.

It is important for parents and teachers to realise the impact of their attitudes, expressed and otherwise, on the developing attitudes of their children. There is a lovely poem Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte that expresses it rather well.

Below is a list of a few further ingredients that I consider essential for maintaining the fun and adventure in learning throughout life. I’m sure you will think of many more.

Children learn best when they have time to:

  • play,
  • choose,
  • grow and develop,
  • think,
  • problem solve,
  • make many attempts,
  • develop independence,
  • create,
  • be,
  • question,
  • wonder,
  • imagine,
  • explore, and
  • discover

in an environment of respect and encouragement that is unhurried and non-competitive.

While I often say that children are born scientists, constantly exploring the world and conducting experiments to find out what works, we can sometimes take their discoveries for granted as their investigations confirm for them something it seems that we have always known; for example, that something dropped will fall. However, any question that a child asks can be a springboard into further learning. It is the questions asked that have driven science discoveries and understandings: questioning, wondering and imagining.

It is these adventures into the unknown, the exhilaration of learning, that drive me and that have inspired my response to the flash fiction challenge by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write an adventure, experienced or witnessed. I hope you enjoy it.

As she reached for the unicorn-shaped balloon the man smiled and winked. She hesitated, accepted the balloon, and pushed back through the small audience. Something made her turn. The bystanders, the man, and the balloons were gone. Puzzled, she scanned the crowd for her mum. A sudden gust puffed out her skirt and, as she clutched the unicorn, lifted her high and away: across the city, over the fields, beyond the horizon; and back. She gazed at the patchwork unfolding:  beautiful, connected, serene; and recognised herself a part. As she descended all was as before. Only she had changed.

And if you are wondering about a unicorn-shaped balloon, it is possible:

Thank you


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