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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Growing Young Minds

Quote of the Day:



What is the true purpose of education? Today we went to a homeschooling fair organised by the homeschooling community in Singapore. I was honestly surprised and wowed by the number of people who were present - from parents who were sharing their homeschooling ideas to children who were playing happily in the fields. 

It was a heartening experience for me, to listen to the various parents sharing passionately about their individual educational journey. One mother, for instance, shared how her 11-year-old son was learning about nanotechnology and black holes while her 13-year-old daughter was more keen to study about the human body and possible medical applications. Another parent excitedly shared her children's nature study and art journals, and we were blown away that her children were studying and drawing insect and plant parts from the age of 3! Yet another mother shared how her children had learnt writing simply by reading aloud and summarising classical texts from "living books" - narratives written by people with a passion for a particular subject or topic. And I of course took particular interest in the parent who left historical coffee table books lying around so that her children could develop an interest in history even during their pre-school years.

The various ideas have provided me a new meaning to the practice of education. As educators and parents we are so absorbed in making sure that our children arrive at the end product of their studies - the metaphorical "cut flowers" depicted by John W. Gardner. Yet I believe the true meaning of education is to provide the raw materials to our children so that they will learn to grow their own plants. Our children need to be given good seeds and fertile soil for their young minds to cultivate. They then need to be taught how often to water the plants and how much sunlight is optimal for growth. With constant attention and guidance, lovely plants will rise from the ground, beautiful flowers that will provide much enjoyment for all around.

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