I have been pondering the topic of natural learning.
My local homeschooling community here seem to be enamoured by it. And I'm fine with that, in many ways natural learning appeals to me. But what was disconcerting, IMO, on first stepping into the local homeschool community was how many of the mothers went on about how they did nothing- as they were natural learners. Doing nothing has never appealed to me, so their excitement put me off. Why would I stay at home with my kids, to do nothing?
After that I read a John Holt book- 'How Children Learn' and I got the idea. It did appeal- but not in the way that I wanted to embrace it over everything. Also I didn't understand how these parents thought he meant to do nothing- I interpreted it as being an instigator in enabling my children to learn the things that they are interested in.
And so I've been talking to someone about it again, yesterday. She seemed very interested in it- but funnily when she was talking about wishing she'd learnt music when she was younger, she seemed like she couldn't do it now. And yet to me that's the perfect way to show natural learning to one's kids. She wants to know how to do it- she finds resources to do it. And indirectly, through her learning, she teaches her children how to natural learn.
And so I do Waldorf homeschool, and we natural learn all the time. Through doing Waldorf I expose them to things beyond myself or themselves that possibly we would never have examined. And I love that. My natural learning is the Waldorf thing. Gabriel's natural learning recently has been looking at Atlantis, because he found it interesting after a school block of Willow's. Willow loves making things (which is easier due to our craft sessions). But then my goal is not to encourage my children to be natural learners, mine is to have children that find the world an interesting and amazing place- and can be interested in anything.
And so I don't embrace natural learning as my mode of education. It's great to choose to learn what you want- but sometimes one has to learn and do things one doesn't want to. And sometimes those things are interesting, I find that usually they are. But then I must wonder, is it my view of the world that is different to the parents that embrace this? Particularly those who embrace it in the 'I can do nothing' kind of way. I loved primary school. I loved wondering what exciting things the teacher would reveal to me each day. It was high school that destroyed my passion, and homeschooling that returned it.
I think perhaps some of these parents need to find their passion and show their children how they find it- and maybe then their children will know how to love learning.
Recently (2015) I've been reconsidering my views on this, and why I still feel a balanced approach is best for our family. Here's a link to the page "More thoughts on Natural Learning".