February 20, 2010
I hope he stays a lunatic for life
Posted by John Spencer
"It was hiding behind the clouds, but now it's back," Micah explains.
"It's a quarter-moon," Joel adds. "A quarter is when a number smaller than one and it means you chop one up into smaller pieces." It's not a bad description of fractions. I'm guessing he won't need to understand the concept completely until he is in school.
"Daddy, is that the same moon as yesterday?"
"Yeah, it's the same. The moon is always there."
"So, it's not a new moon?"
"Same moon every night."
"Does it just lose part of itself and grow back?"
"No, it has to do with the light hitting it. Part of the moon is hidden because it's dark."
Joel probably won't understand what I told him just as he doesn't completely understand fractions and, on some level, the sun really does disappear every night. But he loves to learn. It's always relevant to him and he is unashamed about asking questions.
We never tell Joel, "This isn't important, because you won't use it when you are older." It's not about when he is older. It's about now. It's about learning how to learn. Joel never asks me, "How will I use this in a job?" Never. Not once. Joel never asks me, "What will I get for learning this?" What he "gets" is a chance to learn, a journey, a process, a dance. Some days learning will be a meandering trip in the woods and other days it will be an epic that will require a dagger. But if he ever pursues education, I want it to be the way one would pursue a love and not the way one would manage a portfolio.
Perhaps the saddest part about sending my children to school (and I will) is that learning will, at some point, become a commodity. It will become a possession, an investment, a tangible good to be used in exchange for money. If he's not careful, he'll get good grades to go to college and he'll go to college to get a good job and he'll never learn how to ask, "What is good?" because "good" and "goods" don't often intersect.
For now I'm just happy with him asking "What is the moon and why is it disappearing every night?" Keep staring out at the universe, kid, and some day you'll stumble on why we are here.