Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Curiosity Game

One day when Albert Einstein was 4 or 5 years old, he was sent to bed sick. His father tried to allay little Albert’s boredom by giving him a compass to play with. Albert soon noticed that whichever way he turned the compass the compass’ needle pointed in only one direction.

For the rest of his life, Einstein would recall his experience with that compass. “I began to shake and I grew cold. I realized something deeply hidden had to be behind things.”

From that day, Einstein would be drawn to the mysterious, to be curious about things that, as he said, “Most people don’t worry their heads about.” And, he would add, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” He said he never lost the awe of a child.

Einstein believed that an education that did not foster curiosity hurt an entire nation and he believed most government education intentionally did this to its youth. “A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.”

So, now, I am proposing a new game for your family to play together. I call it The Curiosity Game.

The rules are simple: Each day, one of the children will announce to the rest of the family, “I am curious about something…” Then, the child will ask a question he has wondered about and the task of the rest of the family is to spend part of their school day finding a response to that child’s curiosity.

Other possibilities: For larger families, each child would be assigned his or her own, Personal Curiosity Day to be curious about something and the rest of the family would work on solving that child’s curiosity issue. Or, before Dad leaves for work, he can pose something he is curious about and the rest of the family can spend part of the day solving his question.

One concern I have had for some time is that people are losing their sense of observation. They don’t “see” things any more, partly because they are constantly receiving electronic input all day long. Nowadays, who asks questions like, “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why is the grass green?” or “When you let something go, why doesn’t it fall UP?”

If Einstein is right—that government schools purposefully suppress curiosity—homeschooling is the ideal context for it to reemerge in our society.

I would love to hear a homeschooled student say, as did Einstein, “[People like me] never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”

Let’s play the game!
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“I Don’t Know Enough to Teach My Own Children”

Recently, while visiting Israel, I read a report on Israel’s public schools.

Turns out, they are pretty bad.

Israel’s public schools rank 40th among the world’s nations on international standardized tests. Teacher’s colleges accept students who cannot get accepted in most other college disciplines, yet these become Israel’s future teachers.

Then, there are the students. Teachers have difficulty maintaining classroom order as Israel’s youth are raised to be defiant toward established norms and authorities. Therefore, it is difficult for teachers to require that students learn anything the students, themselves, don’t want to learn.

As I read this report, I thought, “Wait a minute! How could this be when tiny Israel turns out the highest number of entrepreneurs and business start-ups in the world next only to the U.S.? There must be a problem with the research here!”

The report went on to describe that one, obvious way to “fix” the teacher-student problem was to provide kids with better teachers.

Result: Students did better on standardized tests because better teachers are apparently able to train students to do better on tests. However, when looked at more closely, the better-testing-students had actually learned less. In other words, after taking the tests, they forgot what they were supposed to have learned!

By now, I was thoroughly confused. That is, until I read the conclusions of the researchers.

It seems that when teachers don’t know their material—and are willing to admit this—the students are left with figuring out things for themselves. And, instead of students being required to sit and listen to some “expert”, the teacher becomes a “collaborative learner” along with the student.

Sound a little like homeschooling?

This is why, when a parent says to me, “I don’t know enough to homeschool my own children; I was a terrible student, myself.” I want to reply, “That’s more of a benefit than you could possibly know!”

The routine, lock-step, cloned (may I add “boring”) education that goes on in public schools today has been going on since the invention of public schooling in Prussia over 200 years ago. Albert Einstein ran away from home to Italy, even renouncing his German citizenship, stating that public school kept him from being able to think. He was 16.

As parents, let’s stop pretending we need to know everything to allow our children to be educated at home. It is to their benefit that we don’t. At best, we will be collaborative learners along with our kids.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 16 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook) and see the amazing trips we have planned for 2017!

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