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Monday, 6 June 2016

Home Learning Cultures: What, how, and why?

Have you ever wondered about the culture you create in your home? I'm not talking about culture in terms of race, ethnicity, heritage or religion. And, I'm not talking about how loving or dysfunctional the family is (although this is, undoubtedly, the most important aspect of any family).

I'm talking about the kind of values and interests a home embodies. What does your home say about who you are and what you value? What kinds of objects are on display in your house? What do you have up on your walls? What kind of activities does your family do for fun? What do people talk about at the dinner table? What messages do the physical, verbal, and behavioral culture of your home give your child?
As Peter Drucker, the business guru says, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," and I think that's true. The culture of the home shapes kids far more than any specific strategy, class, or task that we impose upon them.
One of my closest childhood friends lived in a home permeated by technology. His dad ran a software company, and his mom was also extremely computer savvy. They always had the latest technology and the best computers, and as a family, they preferred movies to books. My friend himself was always playing around on his computer -- not on mindless games, but on really sophisticated stuff. He started programming really young, and unsurprisingly, he went on to become a very successful software engineer. In his home, dinner table discussions would often revolve around computers, new technologies, and cars.

My own childhood home was full of literature, poetry, and art. Big, dusty bookcases crowded with books about art and architecture, museums and travel. Other bookcases overflowed with works of fiction -- great literature from India and the West. We were a reading family, and we were an artsy family.  Neither of my parents cared much about technology. They just weren't into machines. We had a small TV that was never switched on. Our house was also a quiet house. I don't remember much music or noise. Everyone in the family seemed to enjoy silence and solitude.

I often consider the kind of home that I'm creating for my children. What kind of culture are they living and breathing everyday. How can I make sure that the culture of my home reflects my love of learning, reading, and ideas?

When I talk to parents about learning, I often discuss what " a learning culture" looks and feels like at home. 
Parents can create a math culture -- with legos, tangrams, math conversations, math games, and math exercises. 
And they can create a reading culture -- with bookshelves everywhere, conversations about books, and lots of time for reading. 
And importantly, parents can ensure that everything about their homes signals to kids that learning is beautiful, enjoyable, and important.

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