The Ki-Lin: An example of child led learning

Child led learning is an important component of my philosophy of education.  In such learning environments, children are not forced or coerced into learning. Instead, parents (and educators) work to follow the lead of their children, providing support, resources, and instruction, in keeping with their children’s wishes.  I am sometimes surprised at what directions their interests take them.

On our weekly trip to the library last week, Sweetie selected a number of books about unicorns. She has been obsessed with fairies, unicorns, winged horses, and other magical creatures for a couple of years now. It’s her thing.

qilinSeveral of the books talk of the history of unicorns and how the image of what a unicorn looks like varies from one culture to the next. They described the ki-lin (pronounced chee-lin), one of four mythical beasts of ancient Chinese writings, as a miraculous creature with the body of a deer, the tail of an ox, the head of a wolf, and the hooves of a horse. In Chinese tales, the ki-lin was said to be a solitary animal that lived in deep forests and high in the mountains. It never appeared to humans unless it had a special mission, like the gift of writing to Emperor Fu Hsi or to foretell the birth of a great man like the philosopher Confucious.

In the past few weeks, there have been several references to China in our readings and favorite television programs (I love Survivor and Sweetie frequently watches with me). As a result, she has become fascinated with the culture. Last night, she asked if we can learn about China in our schooling. She actually pleaded, as if she thought I might say no! She tells me she wants to travel to China someday and see the Great Wall. I would love to travel to China myself. I hope we can someday make this dream come true.

We’re off to the library again today. You can bet, we’ll be picking up books on China!  Where has child led learning brought you?

Updated 7 January 2008 – Upon completing our first unit study, Sweetie narrated what she learned for a special blog post.  You can read it here, I Love China.