I've been pondering how children learn. So has Sophie...
Sophie: If you want to learn something you have to be interested in it... like the elephants I was reading about today. That was really interesting and I remember so much.
Sue: What happens if you're not interested?
Sophie: Then it all goes straight out the door. You don't absorb it.
Sue: Can you learn something like times tables even if it's not interesting?
Sophie: Yes, because you can use those.
Sue: So you can learn things that are needed?
Sophie: Yes. I use my time tables all the time. They're really useful for telling the time - the five times tables, you know. Then I use them for calculating money... Did you know you can use multiplication to do additions? And you can multiply back to front. Actually, times tables are very interesting.
Sue: Interesting and needed?
Sophie: Yes. I didn't used to think they were interesting. It depends on how you learn them. There's some really boring ways of learning maths... like workbooks.
I guess Sophie and I came to the same conclusion:
Children will learn what they need to know or what they find interesting, and sometimes what they need to know actually turns out to be far more interesting than they first thought. I never pointed out the advantages of learning times tables to Sophie. She discovered these for herself. She's been doing a lot of thinking...
... just like me. And I'm thinking that I can read all the books about education I like but I'll probably discover far more about how children learn by observing and listening to my own children.