“Education is not filling a bucket,
but lighting a fire.”
– William Butler Yeats
When I read this quote again today, I could not think of a more timely encouragement. As we wind down this past year of school (we go year-round) and prepare for the upcoming one – I need to hear this.
When I drift too far off the trail, I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to “educate” my kids. I picture myself in that old infomercial with the Ronco rotisserie that came with that flavor injector device. (Am I the only person who remembers this thing?) Separate that skin and shove in the garlic! If I just get the right tools, I can jam those little bits of information into their bodies and end up with perfectly
seasoned educated children. Voila!
But, then somebody pees on the floor (talking about the 2-year-old here – not me), so-and-so wants a snack, the baby just woke up, I need to order labels before the next farmers market . . . And of course, my fabulous educational tools sit on the desk. And I feel like I am failing my kids.
So, when I heard that quote today, I felt myself relax. It isn’t about my tools, it is about their passions. It isn’t about what we didn’t get done today, it is about what I taught them about learning.
No, I am not an unschooler (I am not that brave), and yes, I do use resources to teach, and I make a lesson plan, and we do actually (miraculously) get it done almost every day. But, what I need to remember is that checking off those little boxes I make as a plan is not the goal.
Teaching them to love learning when I am not there handing them their little boxes is really why I do what I do. Not just getting through any given Wednesday, but lighting the fires that will burn for their entire lives.