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Sunday, 2 September 2018

How Parenting Is Teaching Me To Learn Again

With Little O starting school next week, I've been thinking a lot recently about my own learning journey. He is just starting out on his, whilst mine feels a bit like the limited service the local bus provides our village. What's more, Little O has started asking the most interesting questions. Especially about how things are made.

"Mummy, how is bread made?" "Mummy, how do you make a car?" "Mummy, how do you make ice?"

Some of the answers I know. But some, I don't. It's easy to make something up for pacification's sake, but shouldn't we instead feel inspired to find out the real answer?

"Mummy, why is the sky blue?"

I always thought it was because the sky reflected the sea. Not true. Apparently blue light is scattered further by the molecules in the air than other colours and that is why we see a blue sky.

I was once told that if we could learn 10 new facts every second of our lifetime, that when we died, our brain's capacity for learning would still only be just over half full. Isn't that just fascinating?

So why do we seem to mark leaving school by giving up on learning? Clearly there are exceptions such as professional qualifications for accounting, law and medicine, but more often than not, the end of our formal education marks an end to our exploration of the workings of the world around us. Unless you count joining in with Pointless or your local Thursday night pub quiz.

When I was a child, my mum was a stay at home parent and took a number of short courses at the local college: computing, creative writing, dry stone walling. And why not? I hope that these courses served as more than just a day-filler and I'm sure they did. I hope their purpose was to feed a greedy mind.

Children have such fantastically greedy minds. Everything is interesting. Everything asks a question of itself. And children are curious for an answer.

How? What? When? Where? Who? And the unrelenting 'Why'?

Why is the grass green? How do caterpillar tracks work? Why do cars need petrol? Who decides when Paw Patrol is on? Why are some apples green and some red? Why does the sun go to sleep? What is jelly made of? What makes wheels go round? Where does a tiger live? Why do robins have red bellies? How do fish breathe? What's the biggest mountain called? What are shadows made of? Who makes swans? Where do guitars come from?

It's clear from the success of programmes like Planet Earth that our curiosity isn't necessarily lost when we grow up, perhaps just dimmed by the fact we're a little distracted by boring stuff like going to work, doing housework and paying bills. All that pesky responsibility. How tiresome.

After the years I spent devoting evenings and weekends studying to qualify as an accountant, my mind was on a diet. But now it's back, greedier than ever. I'm feeding it with recipes at the moment, and tips on how to prune lavender.  Today, I learned that saliva is supposedly a viable alternative to rooting powder. Not that interesting to some, but that doesn't matter. I'm going to keep learning and who knows, maybe that next question from my curious child, I'll already have the answer to.


Mission Mindfulness


  1. This is interesting because it was exactly the same for me. Things I didn't know or couldn't remember I was suddenly learning through my kids x #GlobalBlogging

  2. This was a really interesting read for me as I've been thinking about this a lot recently. My 3 year old is forever asking questions. Sometimes I know the answers and other times I have to refer to Google. I've learned so many random facts in the last few months - my favourite being that baby snails are born with shells. (I'm not sure if that's common knowledge but I found it fascinating!). I suppose as we get older we just accept things as they are and don't feel it necessary to question the how or why. It's such a shame. #globalblogging

  3. I often think that, that how children can remain so curious and positive is down to the simple fact that we parents take care of all the boring stuff, like cleaning, paying for stuff etc. Our lives would be pretty cool too if we had all that taken care of! #TriumphantTales

  4. Once again I am impressed by your dedication to help penguin to learn #triamphanttales@_karendennis

  5. It's exactly the same for me. I question so much more now and find pleasure in learning the smallest thing. I learned how to fix my dishwasher as a result of Maddie Moat and Do You Know on CBeebies. #TriumphantTales

  6. I couldn't agree more. I love all of the questions our girls ask, it really gives my brain a workout #triumphanttales

  7. This really resonated with me - I just love the inquisitiveness of my girl's minds and it really does encourage us to become learners as well as teachers :-)

  8. I challenge myself to learn about new subjects and keep my mind agile - I'm afraid of the boredom from not continuing to workout my brain. #GlobalBlogging

  9. It's not until you see someone asking these questions that you realise that you don't know the answers to everything. Really interesting and it's made me a little thirsty to learn more. Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales, do come back next week.

  10. #thesatsesh fill that brain up hun (i also totally thought the sky was blue because of the sea) , a hungry brain is usually a sign of a full heart - that little boy is fulfilling both it would seem

  11. They seem to make learning fresh again and I feel the same as you it's wonderful x

  12. I resonate with this! My kids are older now, 14 and 18. My son, the 14 year old, was a nonstop question asker. Question after question, not even waiting for answers before he asked the next one. His questions have gotten more difficult and at times, philosophical, yet he continues to ask. I have always felt blessed by him being this way. Thanks for sharing this over on Anita's page! Take care.

  13. It's fab when you get to be mummy teacher. I'm looking forward to school days when I get to learn long division again. 😆 xx