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Learning Every Moment (Part 1): Learning Needs NO Scheduled Time, Place or Curriculum

natural learning homeschooling India unschooling

Our month-long journey across different towns, cities and country-side began exactly a week back. As I sit down to capture my thoughts about our journey so far, and especially the part about learning by traveling – remember, I told you in my last post that I’d be sharing our travel with you through a series that I want to call “Learning by Traveling” – I’m unable to decide where to begin, what all do I write about, which learning moments do I present to you and which ones can I skip. For the reality is – each and every moment came wrapped in oodles and layers of learning. And we unwrapped those moments enthusiastically and made them part of our life….

And yet, I want to share a few wondrous moments to affirm how learning takes place, in its richest and purest form, when we take cues from our surrounding, get connected to our sense of wonder, let our imagination soar, allow our curious instinct to take the lead and give a free reign to our five senses – that will soak up the nuances of sound, smell, sight, touch, feel…

So, in this series titled “Learning Every Moment”, I’m sharing the first of our numerous favourite unscheduled, unplanned learning moments in the week that went by and the next few weeks to come.

Here’s our FIRST favourite learning moment – utterly unplanned but deeply driven by the curious instinct that every human mind is gifted with but loses along the way…

Learning On the Railway Platform

Now, this particular learning moment presented itself at the most unusual time and place and in a rather oblivious form. We were waiting for the Rajdhani express at the Delhi railway station. Inspite of taking care of all odds and ends related to the packing for the month-long travel, we ended up with a bag whose handle was ripped. The stitches had come apart and there was no way it would take the load. But, it wasn’t on our minds – not when we’re dreaming of Goa’s sunny beaches. But then, at the platform, a shoe-mender turned up quite out of the blue. When he offered to fix the handle, we said, “why not”. Infact, it seemed like a happy coincidence.

Here comes the moment of learning led by curiosity. As the shoe-mender starts his work, I’m fascinated by how the thread moves from one side of the bag to the other with a needle that looks nothing like the normal sewing needle.

learning every moment

I squatted on the ground to study how he did that. Looking at my eagerness to learn, the shoe-maker slowed down his moves to show me exactly how he works at it.

natural learning

Pari bent down too, taking pictures and video all the while. Avie (hubby), too, was showing keen interest by this time. We then went on to take a closer look at his tool box, which was chock-a-block with the nuts and bolts of the job that he does.

unschool learning

By the end of it, all three of us had figured out how to fix a torn leather bag or a shoe for that matter.

learning tool box

Had I not allowed my curiosity to take over thinking it’s a dull job, not something for us to explore, but done as a chore by a poor and shabby man, this precious learning opportunity would never have been ours.

Had I considered it not worthy enough of attention (I feel sorry to say this – but this is the attitude of the majority in my country), I and my family would have never understood the value of this guy’s very useful tool – the tool that earns him his bread every day.

share learning

And, last but not least – we’d have missed a moment of connection with a fellow human being, who felt valued, appreciated and loved by being able to share his knowledge with us. He felt important. The satisfied expression on his face said it all.

I have learned that learning is present in every moment of living. Learning is NOT separate from living. We only have to be receptive by being curious and humble. Yes, humble. For when we think we know it all, our learning journey stops then and there – for ever.

What we learned in that moment is not prescribed in any curriculum – no matter Indian or some other country. And yet, our society continues to harp on curriculums. And they talk about a scheduled time for learning. Also, a scheduled place (classroom) for learning. As if the life outside of this scheduled place and time and curriculum is a waste of time. As if the scialization that takes place outside of school – with parents, with siblings, grandparents, neighbours, fellow travelers or shoe-menders like the guy above, does not count in the scheme of things. I believe that the socialization that happens in this maner, beyond age-groups, beyond social and economic backgrounds is real and meaningful.

What do YOU think about all this? 

What did you learn today that was NOT planned or scheduled? 


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Manish February 18, 2013, 5:19 pm

    It felt nice to read about this particular learning moment. Curiosity, as you have mentioned, is one of the key ingredients and that alone opens up so many possibilities for us to learn, from different sources, a lot of which can go totally un-noticed, like the one you have shared. What you have also done in this learning moment here is made the person feel respected, valued, loved and happy, and my BIG two thumbs-up just for that :) Looking forward to reading more such ‘learning by traveling’ experiences from you guys over the next weeks! Safe travels and happy learning!

    • Rashmie February 23, 2013, 3:44 pm

      Thank ya, Mannu, for your lovely affirmation. And yes, Amen to more such moments of curious learnings and connections.

  • Lipi Sachdeva February 18, 2013, 9:08 pm

    I think its fabulous…..and you know what? reading this brought so much peace that i’s smiling through out the post….these days we are so busy in our life that giving honour and respect to others are a thing of past. you have done agreat job rashmie….hats offf….waiting for more to come soon…

    also if you would have anounced about the homeschooling conference a little earlier than probably we would have also planned and been able to participate… I’ll miss this time and will look forward to next time. Please document it and will be greatful if you can post some videos of the sessions on your blog….

    Once again after reading this the amount of respect for you has increased immensely…

    • Rashmie February 23, 2013, 3:47 pm

      Thank you, Lipi, for reading the post and for sharing your own observation and thought.

      The homeschooling conference was meant only for those who’re homeschooling right now. I’ll try my best to share my experience from there through notes and pictures.

  • Melissa February 18, 2013, 10:47 pm

    I needed to read this today – thank you. :-) When I first decided to homeschool my children about 4 years ago, I was so excited and sat down, writing all of the adventures we could have – reading story books together, drawing, going for walks – but then I started reading about the ‘rules’ for homeschooling and all of that creative enthusiasm flew out the window. Needless to say I have been spending the past 4 years trying to re-claim it. So thank you for sharing this. It is a sign, and it has helped me today!

    • Rashmie February 23, 2013, 3:50 pm

      Yes, the rules take the joy out of living and learning. I’m glad you recognized that and are trying to restore the spontaneity and enthusiasm back into your learning journey.

      And hey – I’ve been noticing lot of ‘signs’, too, past few months; those divine clues that I’d have missed earlier when I was not so connected with myself and my innermost desires and passions. Glad you saw this post as a ‘sign’. :-)

  • The Monko February 19, 2013, 1:59 am

    What a great learning moment. Curiosity is such a gift for learning. My son is so inquisitive he is always learning things without even realising

    • Rashmie February 23, 2013, 3:53 pm

      The Monko – yes, the inner learning that happens within a child – curiosity is a driving factor for that. Thank you for reading and adding your own thought.

  • Eula Lewis February 19, 2013, 11:16 pm

    Thank you Rashmie for opening my mind and my eyes. I have seen cobblers doing this umpteen number of times. When I was younger I would stand and watch my cobbler (God bless his soul) mend my shoes and I would find it very fascinating. So much so I would stand and watch him till the entire shoe was done. Thank you for highlighting the learning aspect in so humble a job.

    • Rashmie February 23, 2013, 3:54 pm

      Thank you, Eula, for sharing your learning with us. What a wonderful affirmation for me.