This quote by Albert Einstein is one of my favourites:
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
Without the addition of a date to signify, I would find it difficult to separate out the memories and distinguish how far apart events occurred or in which sequence.
If the “The only reason for time“ was applied to the school situation, it might be quite different, for example,
“The only reason for time is to ensure that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time.”
In previous posts I have talked about the importance of having a growth mindset and the power of ‘not yet’ thinking. Most respondents to these posts agreed on a preference for thinking about their own goals as not yet achieved, rather than as failed to achieve. Much like for a twelve month old child who is not yet walking, ‘not yet’ implies no failure, just steps in the right direction, an expectation of success, when the time is right and the child is ready.
For many things we do in life there is no hard and fast rule about when they should be achieved. Most developmental milestones are presented as an average, a range of ages during which time most will achieve. But the edges are blurred and, unless attainment falls way beyond the guide, there is generally no cause for concern.
When it comes to school learning there is much more anxiety about achievement and reaching particular benchmarks by certain ages. Anne Goodwin hinted at this is her comment on my post Reading is out of this world. Anne said,
“we need to create the conditions in which children want to learn to read and to continue reading regularly. Sadly, I think some kids are put off by attempts to teach them to read before they are ready, which just gives the message that it’s hard or boring or both.”
She said that we need ways to “get them in their own time, to where they need to be.”
Anne is right. Children may be put off reading by attempting to teach them before they are ready; just as often, I would add, by inappropriate methods that present reading as a series of unrelated skills devoid of context, meaning and enjoyment.
Children may come to reading at various ages and in various ways. Some read early. Mem Fox says that, if she were queen of the world, “children would learn to read easily, long before they came to school”, like my two did. Others suggest a “better late than early” approach or not hurrying the child.
I think it is important to recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach has no place in education. I would love Mem Fox to be queen of the world and for all children to learn to read easily and with joy before school age, but there is much to do for that ideal situation to exist. David Elkind says that no one believes in hurrying children but parents, educators and legislators can always find a reason to do so.
Being out of step with peers can be a great cause of anxiety; and anxiety begets anxiety which further impedes learning, as shown in this presentation by Heidi Lyneham.
To improve the situation for learners we need to recognise that
- Learners learn in their own time. We need more flexible timeframes that honour each child’s development and learning journey.
- Learners learn in ways that are as individual as they are. However there are conditions which improve the chances of learning occurring, such as these conditions for literacy learning as proposed by Brian Cambourne.
In her comment on my post Reading is out of this world, Nicole Hewes indicated support for this view by describing how she assisted a student’s learning by providing books about whales, a topic the student was greatly interested in.
Along with the recognition of different timeframes, there must be recognition of and value placed upon the time required by students to develop the skills; and time and opportunity must be provided for that development.
Just when I was writing this post, Bec, who loves to look after my reading and learning needs, sent me a link to this article by Pernille Ripp who asks,
“Why do we forget that time to read is the one thing readers need the most to become better readers?”
And then Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch posted her flash fiction challenge for this week: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a 2 a.m. story.
Time: everything was pointing in the same direction.
Thinking of a learner’s timing being out of sync with that of others made me think about waking up in the middle of the night (say 2am) and not being able to get back to sleep; knowing that one should be asleep; that everyone else is asleep; that one needs to be asleep because there’s a “big” day head. And all the while the anxiety grows as quickly as the ability to sleep fades. Maybe you can identify?
One moment deep asleep. Next, upright; breath still; ears intent; staining to hear above her pounding heart.
Nothing. Just the familiar: fan whirring, palm frond swishing against the house.
Must investigate: bravely, fearfully.
With limbs trembling, palms sweating and mouth dry, she eases her legs out of the bed, puts her feet on the floor, pushes herself up and pads to the window.
Peeking out she scans the yard, illuminated by the full moon.
Nothing. A dream?
She pads back to bed. 2am.
“Ooh! Only three hours!” She closes her eyes, wishing hopelessly for sleep until morning’s liberation.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.