Friday, July 3, 2009

How do we learn?

I hope you've been enjoying your week! Did you miss me?

Things got a little busy here. Busier than expected. Marina started an extra day at the library and Sierra took a trial tap dance class the same day. Chase did some volunteer work at the Nature Center. Somehow, I managed to take yoga two days in a row, and now I am sooooo sore.

On the plus side, I've started working on comics for next week, so anyone who was missing them this week, you will get fresh ones on Monday. I'll also post last year's July 4th comics tomorrow. Blogger has been giving me some problems with autoposting, so I might put them up before I head to bed for the night. We'll see.

I've had many thoughts in my head lately, but I haven't had time to really sit with them. I recently read "How Lincoln Learned to Read" by Daniel Wolff (thanks for the tip and author interview Stone Age Techie!) and it has put a lot of ideas into my head about how we learn. The book covers 12 Americans, starting with Ben Franklin and ending with Elvis and describes their childhood and educational influences. It made me think of my own educational influence and I'm starting a little questionnaire for all of you because I'm now intensely interested in what others learned in childhood and how it has influenced them as adults.

For example, my childhood was full of art. I loved drawing. My parents were both artistic in their own way. I would watch my mother doodling while on the phone and sometimes she took out pastels. My father would build things. He built a chicken coop in our yard (yes, I grew up in the Bronx, but that wasn't going to stop him) and when I was older he made a more elaborate coop for pigeons with one way doors for them to fly in and out. He also made models of designs he had for building a house in Puerto Rico. (I'm still waiting for that house dad!)

They encouraged the artistic side of my brother and sister and me. I remember the best gifts my Grandma would bring were small notepads to draw on. My father would bring home reams of paper. I'm sure my brother and I were responsible for the loss of at least one forest. My mother saved as many of our drawings as she could. I was always drawing. If I stayed home from school or was in the hospital, I was drawing. When I left elementary, I went to a junior high school where I knew few children. Drawing was how I introduced myself. I would let others see me draw and they would start talking to me. I also doodled incessantly in the margins of my notebook. I remember one year I had a teacher who collected your class notes a couple of times a year to see if you were paying attention. I spent a night rewriting my notes so that I could hand in a clean copy. That taught me to keep a scrap of paper in my notebook for doodling.

Then there were the comic books. Grandma started me with titles like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Dennis the Menace, and Archie. I eventually discovered my brother's X-Men comics. One of the nicest things he ever did was give me a pile of his back issues. I devoured them. Comics probably taught me to read. I guess I was more of a visual learner, I needed those pictures to keep me focused. Whenever I was stuck in the hospital because of asthma I alternated between drawing, watching cartoons and reading comic books.

Even into adulthood art has always been a major part of my life. I was drawn to facepainting and the artistic style of juggling. I loved choreographing juggling routines to perform with my husband. I wasn't into the more competitive "How many can you do?" style of juggling. The yoga flow I do now is also very artistic.

And then I came back to comic art. I think you all know that.

Now it's your turn. Answer a few questions for me in the comments section. Or answer them on your blog and tell me you wrote about it.

  • What is a memory you have of learning with your mother?
  • What is a memory you have of learning with your father?
  • What kind of education do you think you gave yourself? (Arts, science, history, writing, etc.)
  • Do you see ways you've used that education as an adult?


biblioholic29 said...

Fascinating topic JP! Let's see, my mom taught me how to cook and sew, which are now my go to ways to relax, I remember in particular a time I had to "invent" something in 3rd grade and she helped me with the basics in cookie invention. My dad is a math nerd, and he spent a lot of time working to teach us logic and math shortcuts. While math will never be my favorite thing, I'm happy to be able to quickly figure out discounts and taxes in my head. As for teaching myself, I've always been a bit of a nerd for learning. I would have done well with unschooling! I remember one time I was home sick with pneumonia and bored. I decided to take out the encyclopedia and choose one thing for each letter to learn about it. I even wrote papers about them...for fun. I continue to do this kind of thing today. If I watch or read something that peaks my interest, I'll find everything I can on the subject and attempt to become an expert on it. I never want to stop learning!

Laughing Stars said...

Great post and terrific questions. I'll bookmark this and answer on my own blog when I have more time. :-) Thanks for the food for thought!

Jessica said...

Good questions.
# What is a memory you have of learning with your mother?
It was after she took us out of school and I was convinced that I was bad at math after being in school. We sat in a dentist's office waiting forever to be called back and she took out a piece of paper and taught me some basic algebra concepts. I didn't start formerly doing algebra for a few more years, but when it came up, I remembered I already knew it.

# What is a memory you have of learning with your father?
My dad is a concert violinist and I remember him teaching me at a young age how to feel the beat in music. He taught us all to love music and to be open to all different types of music. We learned to sing because of the choir he directed and later I played to piano to understand music even more.

# What kind of education do you think you gave yourself? (Arts, science, history, writing, etc.)
My arts education came from myself. I remember always drawing on everything- even the walls much to my parents objections. I remember thinking that if I looked at something enough I could probably learn to draw it. So I started doing that and learning to see things differently. A lot of my other learning has come from reading and reading in order to learn something new.

# Do you see ways you've used that education as an adult?
Oh yes. I still read in order to learn something new. I still try and see things differently as far as my art goes.

Inner Elder said...

How lucky we all are for your self- education in art! Thanks for the great questions: material for my next blog. Actually, I already touched on a memory of learning with my Dad in today's blog. Love, Mom

foggidawn said...

1. Mom homeschooled me for about half of my school career, so I did lots of learning with her, but I particularly remember the science she taught me through cooking and baking -- it was years before I realized that all those explanations of what, for instance, baking soda does were lessons in basic chemistry!

2. Dad's major role in our education consisted of field trips: I can't think of a single family vacation when we didn't visit at least one historic site . . . everything from the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde to the Johnstown Flood Museum in Pennsylvania. He's particularly fond of civil war sites and anything to do with Lincoln, so I've been to the Lincoln home in Springfield, Appomattox Courthouse, Gettysburg, and many others. Learning with Dad was a hands-on approach to history.

3. I've always been a bookworm. The education I gave myself was achieved through literature -- when the next year's textbooks came in, I would pounce on the literature book first. Mom let me unschool (though the term was unknown to us at that point) for a lot of high school, letting me work at my own pace through most subjects (she had to keep on me about math). Aside from the literature textbooks, I read a lot of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Hawthorne, Twain, and Dumas during my high school years, as well as lots of historical fiction. I didn't even realize at the time how much I was learning on all subjects from the books I was reading.

4. As a librarian, reading widely has been extremely helpful -- and it's a never-ending task. There will always be something that I need to read!

christinethecurious said...

I was so inspired I blogged about this at

Thanks for the questions!


yofed said...

What is a memory you have of learning with your mother?

A nice one would be when I was 4, and my mother was reading to me, and I realized I did understand the written words, without being thought in any kind of way... that was pretty cool... unfortunately, that lead to being yelled at whenever I had grades lower than A when I was is school because "you can do better than that".... :S

What is a memory you have of learning with your father?

He was the opposite of my mother... if I had bad grades and didn't study, he would tell my mom to let me be, that I would learn from my mistakes... unfortunately he wasn'T quite right ;)

What kind of education do you think you gave yourself? (Arts, science, history, writing, etc.)

I read about everything and anything. Hopefully, if all goes well, I will start some university classes this winter (keeping my fingers crossed!). I almost finished CEGEP (kinda like community college, in Quebec), but skipped 2 final exams to go for an interview... I feel like such a loser! lol All I was missing were 2 classes, including English (which I would surely have passed!)

Do you see ways you've used that education as an adult?

I have not used much of anything I have learnt in school, but what I learn on my own tends to be much more useful... on a regular basis. I certainly have learnt from my parents mistakes, that either pushing too hard or letting a kid mess up without adressing the issue can be really bad. Hopefully I'll do better!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...