School habits are essential for proper development of our children. A couple weeks ago I re-started a project to learn a completely new subject. It could be driven by endless curiosity but continuous learning has become an important part of my life. We all learn something new every day but I’m talking about picking up a subject and devoting enough time to it to at least have an introductory understanding. As a result of this continuous learning, I catch myself constantly drawing parallels between different events, topics, theories and trying to better understand the world around me.
Let me give you an example. I have worked with complex computer systems for over a decade now. These systems once implemented should undergo periodic changes to reflect newer realities or requirements. Introduce too much change and you risk destabilizing the entire system. Many of the principles that govern in computer systems also apply in government. The gradual incremental minor changes in laws are required to keep up with changing realities but introduce too much change at once and risk facing enormous unintended consequences. Examples are abundant of principles in one discipline also applying in another.
I consider my education and development the cornerstone of how I perceive the world but how do I learn? What school habits am I hoping to see forming in my little ones?
- Discipline is absolutely essential. Learning cannot happen without significant ongoing time devoted to it but that requires commitment. Discipline or the regimen that develops or improves a skill is simply a habit. As parents, we need to help our children form this habit.
- Focus on the task at hand is also critical. It bothers me immensely how in the past decade the word multitasking has made its way from computer lexicon into our daily lives with a positive connotation of one being more effective when performing multiple tasks at once. We are not built to learn math, physics, and English at once. We are not built to solve three math problems at once. We are not built to read three different sentences at once. We are not built to listen to music while learning (unless we’re learning music). Helping our children focus on their work is simple because they come built that way. The key is not to let our busy lives or bad habits get in their way of focusing on their project or exercise.
- Love of reading is another critical school habit. We typically communicate knowledge with words and can receive the words either through listening or reading. People who do not like reading are unfortunately at a major disadvantage. First, you can only listen as fast as the speaker speaks. Second, even the best speakers are unable to edit their speech many times as written text can be edited. Third, learning by talking to others, asking questions, requires other interactions unrelated to the questions (“how are you today?”). Reading is simply a faster method of processing the volumes of available knowledge. To be sure not everything is found in written text but the love of reading is nonetheless an essential school habit.
- Curiosity is also important but I have not figured out how this can be developed in children. I looked up at least ten words while typing the above because I was curious what all their meanings were. However, I have noticed that many simply lack this interest to go beyond the task at hand. Could it be societal changes or simply human nature, I don’t know but I know that without fostering curiosity we simply cannot raise children with good learning habits.
I’m sure there are other important school habits. What has been important for your learning? What habits do you consider essential for learning and becoming a contributing member of civilization?