Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reality as a perception.

A friend of mine recently turned me on to Jean Piaget who was a Swiss child psychologist and natural scientist. I am only at the very beginning of my research in to his work, but so far I am feeling his vibe. His research in to child development and cognitive studies is interesting, but it is his philosophies on education that really speak to me. For example, in Conversations with Jean Piaget, he says: "Education, for most people, means trying to lead the child to resemble the typical adult of his society . . . but for me and no one else, education means making creators. . . . You have to make inventors, innovators—not conformists" (Bringuier, 1980, p. 132).

That statement blows me away because it so eloquently states what I have always strongly believed. One of the reasons I decided to pull my son out of public school is because of their policy of conformity. I want to encourage independent thought and creativity while he is still young enough to benefit from an organic approach. But, Piaget has made me aware of another level of education that I would have otherwise overlooked. - Our habit of trying to mold our children's perception to agree with our own. It's ridiculous that our common sense doesn't remind us that children perceive the world differently than we do, and so we force them to organize the information around them in to adult-made boxes.

That leads me to Piaget's concept of reality being a matter of perception. Loosely interpreted, "reality" has no substance without human thought. In short, we all define our own realities. What is a ripe, delicious avocado to you, is a disgusting, mushy brown fruit to me. Except, of course, when it is guacamole. Then, our realities merge for a moment. :)

So, Piaget has helped me form a better idea of how I will guide/support my child rather than "teach" him. His studies have given me a little more confidence about my intended direction relating to the education of my child. I'm going to let my son discover for himself what the world around him means and how he wants to function within it. And, maybe this journey will help me re-interpret my own perception of reality as well.