How do you know you’re learning?

May 9, 2011 at 6:41 AM 9 comments

This is a question that I have been asked a lot in my life. It started in third grade; the year we chose to homeschool. It is a question that I just wanted to answer with “Duh! I know I am learning because I am able to do things I couldn’t do before!”

After that it was usually “What are you learning, though?” I cringed, because like many school children my first reaction was to say “I dunno,” and shrug it off. I learned very quickly that I needed to come up with answers to this question, and I needed to be able to prove what I was learning. See, the “school kids” could get away with “I dunno,” a lot of the time because their parents and others around them have this automatic faith in the school system. After all, the school system managed to chew them up and spit them out.

I worked hard to know what my peers were learning, and I made sure it was comparable (so did my mother, for that matter). Usually when asked what they did in school today, they would reply with “Oh, we had a water gun fight,” or “Oh, there was a fist fight,” or “Oh, there was this really cute guy,” and on and on and on. I’m not saying that the school system is bad, but the kids didn’t want to remember what they were learning, unless it was something that especially interested them. I had to remember what I was learning, if I didn’t want to be labeled “stupid”.

Had someone asked me “What did you do in school today?” and I had given those answers, I probably would have been carted back into the system that told me I was bad at math, but didn’t want to do anything about it. I probably would have been ridiculed, and my Mom would have been labeled as a bad parent.

I would proudly exclaim that I knew DNA stood for Deoxyribonucleic Acid. I could spell “miscellaneous”. I knew all of my Roman Numerals, and the beginnings of Pre-Algebra. I knew what they meant in my English books when they said “ellipses”. This was by fourth grade. I was out to prove my weight in knowledge. I studied because I wanted to. I wanted to win. I had to.

How do I know I am learning though? What good is any of that without a passion for life? A caring nature toward others?  What good is being able to look at 5 + 5 and know that it equals 10 if I can’t look at the world around me and know that it is beautiful and we can all work together to form happiness? Some people say that you’ll never be socialized properly if you don’t attend public school.

I could probably say that they are right. I do not have the same set of social standards that most people have. I do not assume that just because somebody is wearing a certain brand of clothing that we won’t get along. I do not assume that people with tattoos are troublemakers. I do not assume that people who call themselves Christians are perfect. I have not been “socialized” in the same way as other people… but really, nobody is ever raised in the same way. That is the beauty of it!

Just because I was not always with all of the same people, 5 days a week, for many of the weeks between my K-12 years does not mean that I was never socialized, and that I do not know how to fit in. For me, in my life, and how I was brought up (not in how I was educated, there is a difference) it means that I am not afraid to stand out. I am not afraid to make friends with new people. I am not afraid to be myself. I have learned that if a group of kids doesn’t like me, there could be a new group tomorrow.

But I also feel like I would be this way even if I was raised attending public school. My wonderful, amazing, beautiful mother would have made certain of that. She taught me to love myself, and others. She taught me to respect people. She taught me to follow the rules, but not to be afraid to break the rules if the rules in place interfered with our personal goals. She taught me to help people help themselves, because if you hand something to somebody on a silver platter it isn’t worth nearly as much to them as when they earn it themselves. Even with that, she taught me to be giving.

How do I know I am learning these lessons? Well, I don’t. I am taking it one day at a time.

It doesn’t take a “genius” to have a capacity to learn or teach. We all have so much to give, and so much to receive. All we need to do is remain open to the sharing part of life. Listen, observe, love.

This all started because for the first time in a long time I asked myself “What am I learning?” and I did not have an answer. It was wonderful. I felt full, immersed, soaked, drenched in so much of it that I really did not have a solid answer. I tried. I could have told you some names and dates of paintings, what they were made of, and all those other things… but I didn’t want to. I didn’t learn about that, not really. I learned about art, and the power that it has. I learned about creativity, freedom, rules, passion, systems, trust, communities, struggle, triumph, glory, and shame. I learned about life, and that is something that just has to be learned.

In the end, had I been asked “What did you learn today?” I would have said “I dunno,” but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be creating art about it.

Happy Adventures,

(By the way, I have missed blogging. And yes, my computer is still hard to get to. And I do not have anything wrong with public school- only the idea that many parents assume their children are learning, and many teachers say ‘This is the parents job, not mine’. Because hey, it IS the parent’s job to make sure their children are being raised in a way that they want them to be. I have been blessed with MANY wonderful teachers in my life, even as a homeschooler and public schooler, and I have two amazing parents. I have bee lucky. Thank you!)


Entry filed under: Community, Food For Thought, Gratitude. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Computer Issues An Opinion of Beauty (via Art Moves Us)

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jaclyn Rae  |  May 10, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    You impress and inspire me on so many levels. Thanks Heather ❤

    • 2. Heather  |  May 11, 2011 at 7:49 AM

      Oh, thank you Jaclyn! I hope you know that the street goes two ways in this area, 😉

  • 3. Candee Basford  |  May 12, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I don’t think anyone could stop you from learning!!

    • 4. Heather  |  May 14, 2011 at 11:59 AM

      You are probably right, Candee. Ehem, or should I just forget the word probably altogether?

  • 5. Candee Basford  |  May 12, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    Not saying you’re not cool but I wanted to pass this along from Brene Brown

  • 6. Pamela B.  |  May 13, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    Amazing! Simply Amazing! Loved reading your blog.

    • 7. Heather  |  May 15, 2011 at 12:07 AM

      Pam, YOU are simply amazing. I miss you already! When are we going to play cards?

  • 8. starrlife  |  May 15, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I like the lifelong learning model. I remember my first year of college when the learning was all up to me. Then I compare my first year of grad school when I really KNEW that the learning was all up to me (age 35). Different things to learn at different stages of life, and evolving ways of learning.
    Great post Heather. Just bear in mind that it is not the school that makes the difference it IS the parents. I know a lot of homeschooled kids(being in a state that has a lot of homeschoolers and having a sister who homeschooled her kids) that I could pick out of a line up – that they too have certain identifying traits sometimes.

    • 9. Heather  |  May 15, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      Oh, I agree Starr. It is definitely the parents. I think that was the whole point I was trying to get across. 😉 I am just tired of people assuming things because of where people go to school. I got tired of my own self thinking that public schoolers are a certain way, and it is all in how people are raised.


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Reading: just about anything I can get my hands on, other blogs, and especially YA Fiction Novels. Lately I have been really into anything by SARK and other non-fiction books. __________________________________ Writing: updates for my blog, a children's book, music/lyrics, and letters to pen pals. ;) __________________________________ Singing: Warm-Ups. __________________________________ Learning: How to use my voice as an instrument, History of Art, Watercolor, how to be actively involved in creating a better community, and something new every single day. __________________________________ Hoping for: Wisdom and patience when things are hard, a smile no matter what, and a better community. __________________________________ Dreaming about: HAPPINESS __________________________________ Eating: <3 Peanut Butter Pie. Peanut Butter Sandwiches. Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies. __________________________________ Drinking: Water, usually. __________________________________ Playing: The Sims 3, Dance Central, and the Piano and Guitar. __________________________________ Watching: Christmas/Halloween movies, Who's the Boss? reruns, and crazy-cool documentaries about dead people. __________________________________ Listening to: Informative & Educational Podcasts, all kinds of music, and trying to listen to my parents (they are very wise, after all).

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Heather loves hats that are designed to look like cute animals, fairy wings, cheese pizza, swimming in ponds, roller blading, taking silly self-portraits, learning, spending time with people, and just about everything else too. Heather does not love ... well, there isn't a lot that she doesn't love. You can probably figure it out after a little while!

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