Friday, May 5, 2017

Informal Learning

Life teaches us a lot.  More than we are aware we are even learning.  This becomes evident to me again and again while interacting with K3 and Toad, and seeing the knowledge they pick up without even trying.

Last weekend, when they were here, we planted those oak saplings that DH had brought home.  K3 and Toad helped us, somewhat, until they got tired of helping to unwrap wet newspaper from the carefully bound roots and gently putting dirt around those tender roots once I had put the trees into their respective holes.  DH and I continued to plant trees, and the kids just ran around near us, where ever on the property we were at that moment.  From time to time they would call out to us to see something they had found, such as a deer track in the mud.

What amazed me wasn't that K3, at about to turn 5 years old (her birthday was Sunday), could recognized the footprint of a deer, but that once she had located it, she could tell what direction the deer was traveling in.  She knew the toe from the heel, and with that knowledge, was able to find several more prints in series, ranging as far as twenty feet from the print she had first seen.  When she lost the trail in the (rapidly growing) grass of the hayfield, she pointed across the field at the same angle that the subsequent tracks had been from the initial one and told me "It went that way."

Not bad.  Actually, quite impressive tracking skills for a child her age.  Perhaps when deer hunting season comes this fall, I'll take her out to help track when we have a harvested deer to recover.  She's all ready good at following footprints and still young enough not to be disgusted by a blood trail.  Plus, her eyes are much closer to the ground than mine, and maybe my back won't get so sore bending over to find that next little spot of blood in the leaves or grass when the trail grows thin.

Toad had his own knowledge to share.  When we would get to a new location for our saplings, he would make sure to take the hammer off the trailer we were using to transport the trees, stakes, and shovel needed for planting.  He would hand DH the hammer as soon as the first tree had been planted, telling DH "Now you pound it" and gesturing to the stake that awaited being driven in to mark the hard to see tree.

On Saturday, once all the trees had been planted, and it was nearly time for DS1 to come pick up Toad and K3, DH took the blades off of the lawn mower so he could sharpen them up for this season's grass cutting.  The grandkids paid no attention, until DH put the first edge of the first blade against his grinder and sparks flew.

Then they were totally enthralled in what he was doing.  So much so that they set up chairs so that we could sit and watch.  At a safe distance, of course, as they were rather concerned about how hot the 'fire' was that was shooting out of Papa's bench grinder.

Since they were so interested, DH showed them the 'dirty, dull' blades from the mower and let them touch the chipped and rounded edge of one.  Then he sharpened a spot on it and showed them how clean, smooth and shiny it was. He tilted it so they could see it was no longer rounded, but angular. He told them it was now sharp 'like a knife' and they decided it was best not to touch the shiny part.  They were mainly interested in the sparks, really, and without realizing it or intending to, they learned how dull metal can be put against stone and made clean and sharp.

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