What will I learn, Mom?

My husband and I have four kids between the ages of 7 and 11, and we live in a neighborhood with many more. As we’d hoped, our house is a place where our kids and their friends congregate quite a bit. This weekend, my soon-to-be-sixth-grade son and a neighborhood girl were chatting about junior high. Both of them started summer band this past week and are loving it.

As I used to be a junior high school administrator in our district, they asked me a few questions about schedules, electives, and lunch. I was able to weigh in based on my experience, while noting that things are different from school to school and changes have likely happened in recent years. Then he asked, “What will I learn in junior high that I can’t look up on my phone?” He then noted that I’d been using my own phone’s calculator to figure out my monthly expenses when we started this conversation. I talked about mathematical thinking I still had to know to figure that out. My husband, a former math teacher, chimed in and agreed, but none of us were totally satisfied. We talked more about our experiences as students and educators, and we talked about what we hoped our son’s experiences might be. I especially love his question because we’ve spent some time talking about respectfully asking questions when you have them and not staying quiet and compliant.

And a good question it was, son. To be honest, I’m still thinking about it. What do you want to tell him? Are you happy with your honest answer? What should we be able to tell our kids?

2 thoughts on “What will I learn, Mom?

  1. Mark Steacy

    There is a book on my to read list that is entitled “Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google” by Ian Gilbert (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Need-Teacher-When-Google/dp/0415468337). I believe that will be able to answer you question in detail.

    My own response would be that not only is learning knowledge that you would find on the internet important, you also need to learn skills, attitudes and good habits. Although you can learn some skills from a computer and/or internet, there are lots of things that Google or a computer can’t teach you and this is why we need to go to school. Examples are how to meet deadlines, how to work hard, how to be passionate about something, etc.

  2. Kathy Melton Post author

    Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts, Mark. That book sounds interesting for sure. Your response got me thinking about how quickly we often equate learning with content. And it is tough to convince a kid otherwise when that’s often how our effectiveness is judged. I agree with your thoughts that there is so much beyond that.

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