On Saturday afternoon Oliver asked me for some help getting Google SketchUp installed on his computer. He needed to do some building design work, and he’d decided that SketchUp was the tool for the job.
We got the program installed, watched the New to Google SketchUp tutorial video together, and then I ran through a couple of other features with him, like how to import other people’s creations from the 3D Warehouse.
Then he was on his own.
When I came back a few hours later he’d constructed a hotel-spa-restaurant-radio station complex of considerable complexity. Such is both the simplicity of SketchUp and the power of Oliver’s iterative learning style.
This morning Oliver woke me up at 7:00 a.m. and asked how he could retrieve the files he’d saved on the weekend and I told him about File | Open Recent and went back to sleep.
When I rumbled downstairs an hour later for the walk up to school, Oliver was in quite a state, having decided that he would rather stay home all day continuing to refine his buildings – he told me later he was working on a model of his school – and it took all of our parental superpowers – “hey, isn’t it gym day today!” – to retrieve a mood sufficient to normal routine to proceed.
And there’s the conundrum.
Oliver’s now at school, which he generally enjoys, and is likely immersed in some sort of project carefully designed by his teachers to artificially stimulate his interest. This will likely succeed to some degree, as Oliver likes learning and is generally a pliable child.
But no matter what heights of educational greatness they manage to achieve at the school, they will, I’m sure, fail to reach the place that Oliver was at this morning at 8:00 a.m. when all he wanted to do was design a building.
We parents can rationalize ripping him away from this with high-minded broad strokes about how kids need to “learn to follow a routine” and that they “can’t always do what they want” (read “look, I gotta go to work and I can’t look after you all day”).
But it still seems like a failure and like a part of a larger plan to inculcate Oliver in a system that is designed to train him to dampen his passions and disconnect learning from curiousity.
How did we get here?