The Unconscious Study of Science

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At Reedy Creek Community School, we don’t wrap learning into neat packages of information and drop it into your child’s brain. We draw it out of the mind of the child as connections are being made. Here’s an example: We were studying sound waves one afternoon after one little girl chose not to participate in the folk song study earlier in the day. We allowed her to decline and sit and draw while everyone else was singing joyfully. Later, she was feverishly drawing sound waves in science class and came racing over to tell us she had written down the song we were singing earlier. She not only sang the song, she sang it alone in front of everyone else while pointing to the sound waves on her drawing!

 

 

Mary Everest Boole wrote some wonderful books about incorporating math and science into the school day rather than (or in addition to) giving them their own time slot. When establishing relations with a wide variety of living ideas, your child will undoubtedly begin drawing conclusions and tying these ideas to one another the way this young student did. This type of learning is all around us. Mrs. Boole shares:

(Excerpted from “The Preparation of the Unconscious Mind for Science” by Mary Everest Boole, Parents’ Review, Volume 10, p 435.)

Also consider reading The Preparation of the Child for Science, available as a free ebook here.

“Many parents seem to think that all the time is wasted for their children which is not spent in taking in consciously some special idea which some adult already understands. We must get rid of this notion entirely. Miss Mason said at last year’s Conference that a human being comes into the world not chiefly to acquire knowledge or to develop his faculties, but to establish relations; and I would add that a child comes into science, not only to learn facts and to develop the faculty for doing things, but primarily to establish relations with the laws of nature, by which we mean–if we truly mean anything–the laws according to which God governs the world. And in order that relations may be properly established, the grown-ups who are directing the child must, at proper times, do as Miss Mason said, “Stand aside and take a back seat,” and keep silence even from good words.

I fear we are in some danger of forgetting, in the rush of modern education, that conscious mental effort rather interferes with the work of establishing relations. The time for establishing relations is the Sabbath of the I Am, the Jubilee when the land is lying fallow. Sabbath does not mean any sort of conscious exertion. But on the other hand it does not mean useless idleness. A mathematical writer on logic [Gratry.] of this century wrote, that to listen to the voice of the Eternal Teacher we must make silence from conscious learning or even thinking; and adds, ‘In these days we need repose far more than we lack work. Repose is the brother of silence. We are sterile for lack of repose far more than for lack of work. The wise man acquires wisdom during the time of his repose.” A mathematician of the last century said that Sabbath and Jubilee mean, not mere cessation from work, but renewal. Sabbath, Jubilee, Holy Days, Holidays, mean, in fact, time to renew our force for future work by getting our relations with God, with nature, with man, and even with tools, more true, more perfectly harmonious, more elastic and easy than is possible while the conscious brain is acting on the relation. Begin therefore as early as you can to set up in the child’s mind what one may call a Sabbatical rhythm in science; a clear distinction between the time when he is being taught by man and the time when he is free to investigate or experiment as he pleases. Give him limits of time and place, lay down certain necessary negative conditions for safety and health, and to avoid annoying other people; and let the child realize that during that time, in the allotted place, provided he conforms to the prescribed conditions, no one will interfere with his experimenting exactly as he pleases.

It is curious and painful to observe how many things have been proposed by true educationalists, simply for the purpose of ministering to the action of the unconscious mind, and afterwards perverted by persons possessed with the teaching mania to the purpose of stuffing into children’s minds some idea which is in the teacher’s mind. This is especially the case in regard to early kindergarten work. Each object is catalogued as intended to teach this, or to prove that, or to illustrate so-and-so; many parents seem to have no idea that it may be well to let a child have things and handle them, without anyone talking, and find out what the things have to say.”

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