Keep Feeling Fascination

When children are fascinated by something, they want to do it all the time. They can also show the most incredible concentration. I’ve seen a child scoop the seeds out of a pumpkin for fifteen minutes and more, so she could get the inside of it clean. I’ve seen a child spend hours putting rocks in a digger, tipping them out, mixing soil and water, to create a universe of his own design. I’ve seen a child plant seeds, then return time and again, so she can watch them grow into a flower or a vegetable. I’ve seen a child so interested in dinosaurs that you could show him any dinosaur picture, and he would tell you everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about it. Magically, when children are small, learning seems to follow fascination. Fascination helps them make exponential leaps.

As children grow, there are many things we need to teach them, as opposed to letting them flit around and learn in their fascinated way all the time. Reading and writing need to be taught, preferably alongside parents. (Those Dinosaur books didn’t read themselves.) We get to introduce children to a wider and deeper understanding of their world, as they become more able to understand it. We show them lots of stuff that might fascinate them, but somewhere along the way, we seem to stop focusing on what they are truly fascinated by. And this is the question that really interests me, especially when it comes to my own children. Not how we should best measure teaching standards. Not why learning should be hard, and my children must ‘attain mastery’. Not even why a growth mindset is better than the alternative. But how do I keep them feeling fascination?

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9 Responses to Keep Feeling Fascination

  1. nancy says:

    For me, the answer, as a parent, is to allow them their idiosyncracies, and the time to follow their fascinations. For my middle son, if there’s anything he doesn’t know about trains it’s not worth knowing. For many parents this fascination may be somewhat embarrassing, espcially as he heads towards 13, but hey, for me, that’s what being a loving parent is all about.
    As a teacher, it seems to me that we need to have the space to get to know our children a bit better. When we have the time to unbend a little, to chat a little, we can find out what fascinates them, and use that fascination, somewhat sneakily, in our lessons. It might be the throwaway comment, the shared moment of humour, it might be something more formal entirely. With an overburdened timetable and bloated curriculum it seems a little unlikely, but I like to dream.

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  2. manyanaed says:

    Be a scientist. Facinations come with the qualification.

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  3. You keep them fascinated by giving them the tools they need to make sense of the world. This includes a decent grounding, sometimes painfully acquired through lots of practise (challenge in life moulds our character), in maths and English. Thereafter, layers of history, music, science, theology, philosophy etc can be added to the enlightened mind of the young person.

    I know many adults who were not taught the basics properly and have suffered ever since. They are extremely limited both in terms of life choices and in terms of what ‘fascinates’ them; for example, how could they read the works of Shakespeare if they have not been taught English to a sufficient standard (including a decent grounding in etymology)?

    Give a child a toy digger and they are fascinated by a few rocks in a garden for about 5 minutes. Give a child a decent grounding in education and they have a whole universe of subject matter to be fascinated by for the rest of their lives.

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  4. Great post and comments. As we move into teenage years school requirements step up as does our awareness of where we stand in the quite contrived social environment of school. This is where fascination is lost for many as they try and do the work set, while also fitting into the given peer culture. Teens are safe if they happen to have a fascination for something that is shared by an adult in their life who will talk with them and show them how to develop. This may be a teacher, but with 30 kids in a class it’s hard to break through to connect on a personal level. Without this luck, it could be anything that the teenager ends up following. Good or bad. As I hit my 20’s I had no idea what fascinated me, because I’d tried so hard to fit into the small world that existed around me. That’s when a lady suggested that I be a ‘naughty child’ for a week i.e. do exactly what I feel like without self-judging. That’s when I got out a pen and paper and began writing about schooling. That’s my fascination, it’s always been so, but I had no idea that it was OK to follow a fascination or that by doing so my own creativity and determination would come alive like it never did as a hard working student under caring and dedicated teachers.

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  5. Interesting blog, but are you over stating the importance of being fascinated? Are you constantly fascinated by what is around you? Would you want to be constantly fascinated? Can fascination often get in the way of other feelings and can it impede learning and development if it is over present?

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