Kids learn about gravity through a process of experimentation and reflection. They learn by throwing everything they set their hands on. And, in that process, they realize that nearly every thing goes down, never up.
They keep running these experiments for a long time until they intuitively understand the concept of gravity. Experimentation is also a lot of fun.
So, how do adults help in the process? First, we help by creating a safe space for experimentation. That means ensuring they only have balls and light toys in sight instead of knives or other objects that might hurt them.
Second, we help by making it easier for them to synthesize as they reflect. In this example, we can do that by joining them in their game and dropping things to the ground. As we participate at their level, we earn the right to explain that things always fall down. Over time, as they become ready to learn abstract concepts, we can talk to them about a force that pulls everything downward. And, in time, they’ll learn that the force is gravity.
Of course, this continues through life and is applicable to us both as learners and teachers. As teachers, the most powerful thing we can do is to create a safe space for experimentation that encourages thoughtful conversations and synthesis.
And, as learners, we need to consistently experiment and reflect. However, in our quest for daily performance, many of our lives leave no time for either – sucking the fun out of it all.
If all we care about is being, we can never make time for becoming. That is, in many ways, the tragedy of performance focused lives because, in the long run, becoming matters more than being.
And, it is also a lot more fun.