What Is Education Without Personal Meaning Attached?

GunnarGunnar is an 8 old boy in grade three recently diagnosed with autism.

He decided last week that he would rather read The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning by James Zull for his home reading assignment. Now, instead of forcing him to read “Baby’s Breakfast”, within his level 22-assigned books he chooses this!

So every night he’s been reading a page or two. The reading is difficult and he has to really concentrate to sound out some words. Despite this difficulty he is fully motivated. He then discusses what he reads with his mother. He searches the book for illustrations and asks many questions. He is fully engaged and excited about the subject matter. This reminds me of what Albert Einstein’s sister said about him (see below)! I truly believe this to be true with many individuals diagnosed with autism. Gunnar is a real life example of this.

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These guys are all genius in their own right and in their own time if they have people around them able to see beyond their behaviours and inability to conform. Beyond their disengagement is an individual that in actual fact is teaching us. Teaching us to embrace a new way of educating.

EinsteinThese students invite us to allow students to jump-in and enjoy a deep delicious dive into what they find interesting. This is what makes education more meaningful for them! What is education without personal meaning attached?

A meaningful education fostering internal motivation and cultivating joy in my own children is more important than cramming academics down their throats if it results in a drop in their levels of joy or motivation.