Subhanallah, you know, sometimes a simple film can lead to a whole lot of learning activities.
The interest our boys (and even the girl) have in knights and arms is since years like a long loving relationship.
They’ve always been interested in heroes, soldiers and chivalry. They’ve always wanted to read and know more about the middle age, the crusades and ancient battles.
Sometimes their interest moves towards other subjects such as dinosaurs, volcanoes, China, Native Americans or Harry Potter, but every now and then it shifts back to “knights”.
Just this weekend we watched another “Robin Hood” movie (the one with Kevin Costner – a really well-made piece and a wonderful film that even honours Muslims and shows how a real noble character and the love for one’s fellow man can surpass even the deepest religious and cultural boundaries). This movie, although heavy and violent in some parts but very funny and beautiful in general, was just right for our mood of the moment and led to a lot of new learning experiences.
The next morning a whole bunch of questions were asked, research done, pictures and comics drawn, things about Christian and Muslim history told and a lot of things made. Right after breakfast the boys headed out to the fields to get some willow. Our kitchen was quickly transformed into a bows and arrow factory where wood was carved, bags sewn, arrows pointed and cardboard shields and helmets cut. The children asked for a real middle-age-meal and so the lunch was taken from old pewter ware and out of wooden bowls. Then they began to organise a shooting contest and played “knights” inside and out the whole day. (No need to tell you about the mess they made and the learning experience that followed in the evening during the cleaning process, a great opportunity to teach housekeeping-skills and a good-project-finishing…)
I am always really impressed by the power and enthusiasm that brims over if the children really are into a subject, if they are free to discover and to work in an environment that encourages and nourishes many different things.
This is how my children learn and that is why I still would consider us as an “unschooling family” even that we have founded a free private primary school they attend. In fact I think that this is the way all children would naturally learn if not stopped and reprimanded to do so.
And I think that our school is kind of an un-schooling-school because just as my children are enabled to learn at home, also the children in school are free to do so – this is mostly the way and method how we work:
taking the whole world as our classroom, leaving a lot of space and possibilities for self-guided learning, for global experiences through project-making, by making contact with the real world and by following individual interests.
Some of our pupils are still very young, they are still getting used to the freedom and possibilities we offer and they still learn to master the basic skills of being able to do things themselves. But they all mostly learn reading, writing and all the other obligatory techniques of civilisation, the mandatory subjects and many things more by just playfully training themselves in a respectful and loving atmosphere, by trying new things, by doing self-initiated projects and by following their more skilled colleagues.
We, the teaching staff, are seldom classically teaching them, we are mostly supporting, encouraging, enabling, facilitating and creating repeated situations of entire learning experiences.
And I am sure that this is the way how knowledge is really acquired and the process of life-long-learning is initiated.