Little Teachers Everywhere

The munchkins at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC

The munchkins at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC

I love that my children are very close in age, and are learning alongside each other all the time. There is a constant interplay of roles exchanged, a fluid and unpredictable shapeshifting amongst themselves. They morph back and forth, between teacher and student, leader and follower, at rapid speeds. Everyday, everyone gets to be everything. And sometimes, I get to be a kind of nothing inside their fantastic world, a grateful witness simply enjoying the opportunity to be in the midst of their boundless, learning magic.

I always tell people I get how those one-room schoolhouses could really work. Like, the older students get stronger in their skills by having to teach the younger ones. And the younger ones are consistently being encouraged to do more, know more, and grow more, because they see that children not much older than them are leading the way.

This lovely dialogic space of knowledge fosters trust, community, and a deep and lasting spirit of possibility for everybody. The whole of the learning phenomena is made real and tangible. A complete and visible transference of information and experience can be accessed by each participant, can be held and claimed in some authentic way as his or her own.

This interdependent dynamic is something I cherish about our family learning lab process. When everyone has frequent opportunities to be the “teacher,” new levels of understanding are brought to light. Listening to my boys explain things to each other in their own words gives me so much insight into what they really care about, what excited them most about a game we played, what they comprehended from the story, or what they took away from a conversation they overheard on the bus.

Between my children and those in our village, I am fortunate to have so many little teachers around me at all times. I learn so much about life, creativity, change, growth, risks, hope, faith, loss, love, passion, imagination, heartbreak, and resilience everyday. I am grateful to my munchkins for being so generous with their knowledge.

Even though it’s been a little over two years since I started consciously imagining and creating our family learning lab, I know we’re still at the beginning of our radical and beautiful experiment. It makes me feel really amazing that in just a short time I’ve given birth to all these amazing people, lovely people who are each becoming my most amazing teacher in their galactically individual ways. I also feel really good knowing that even 10 years from now, 20 years from now, we’ll always be at some part of the beginning.