Wherever he goes, Ethan has this special talent of remembering the exact route; he has this capacity of seeing road maps in his head.
It’s the way he interacts with the world around him.
Ethan drawing on the trampoline the roads he had in his mind
Every day we would go explore the world and learn through this way.
The day usually started with me suggesting him if he wanted to go to the North/ South/ East/ West and we would find together a destination for the day, it could be a nature place like a park, or a man-made place like a store, museum…a place where we would learn and discover about the world, about the natural or the human environment.
Before leaving for our destination, he would navigate on Google street view to look at the route we had to take to get to the place, he would direct me along the roads he wanted me to drive, telling me when I had to change lane to take the right exit. His eyes were always focusing on the road, looking through the window at the beauty of the landscape passing by, admiring the different kind of lampposts alongside the road and the logo signs of the different stores we could see.
Once we reached our destination, Ethan would explore the place in his own way, he would run, walk, jump, seeing in his mind his favorite roads, he would turn the place into a roads network, turning right, left, stopping at some imaginary stop signs, going over bridges, changing lane, taking exits, so he would arrive somewhere to the ‘imaginary” destination he had in his head. Each new place was like discovering a new country.
This was his way of exploring and learning about the environment. This is how his brain interacted with the environment.
Ethan seeing his “imaginary” roads in a nature park
Along his “imaginary” roads we would sometimes stop and look at something that would attract his attention and we would learn about it, depending on where we were, we could learn about nature, biology, physics, chemistry, math, english.
Learning could be in the car, along the “real” roads; about geography by looking at the signs of the airlines driving passed the airport, about math by counting the logo signs along the roads, about physics and time in the car, about english by reading the signs alongside the roads.
Taking every opportunity to learn, giving even more sense to our environment.
We were exploring, running and walking on the same paths, looking in the same direction, learning together about the basics of human knowledge, driving on his favorite roads whether they were real or in his mind.
Through his way of interacting with the environment, we were always learning in movement. Using the motion of the car while driving on his favorite roads, or moving together on his imaginary roads, this is how his brain was open to learning.
[see science of learning https://www.horseboyworld.com/the-science-of-learning]
Ethan building his roads in the sand during a playdate at the Horseboy Center, Elgin, Texas
What if instead of imposing on the child an ideal of what we think he should be, we were simply following their own way of interacting with the world, encouraging them to learn and to develop their curiosity and creativity.
Because we evolved as hunters and gatherers, human beings all have in common a natural need to interact with their environment; we naturally try to give sense to our environment, this is how we connect to the environment and to each other.
The way we perceive the environment around us depends on the way our brain function.
Each brain is unique and has its own way of interacting with the environment.
It is the beautiful uniqueness of each human being and the richness of humankind.
We are hard-wired to look for what to eat, use for medicine, shelter and so on. So kids are hard-wired to seek out information.
If we follow and encourage kids to explore the world in their own way of perceiving the environment, to develop their uniqueness, we would free their own creativity without them conforming to a conditioned way of thinking.
If they are free to explore the world as they perceive it, they would find out about themselves, about their skills, about what are their brain made for, what are they good at, what are their special talents…
This should be the role of education: watching, observing, listening, and understanding the child as he is to help them finding out about themselves so they are free to learn and express themselves without being forced to fit into a system which society has set. It doesn’t mean we can’t teach the national curriculum. We can at the same time however let the child lead.
This is the beauty of bringing different kinds of mind together: “different is brilliant”.
When you find out about yourself, about what you are made for, you have this little light inside yourself which gives you this energy to go explore, learn and be creative and live truly your life.