Montessori - Natural Life Learning
Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants - doing nothing but living and walking about - came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning: would you not think I was romancing? Well, just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child's way of learning. This is the path he follows. He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love.
Children, people, love learning. It’s natural and innate, and happens whether we interfere or not. Why not encourage that natural love of learning? The essence of life is learning, growing, loving, interacting with our environment and people around us. Children need simply to experience life, to be honored and encouraged for their own gifts and love of learning from what and whomever is around them - regardless of age or achievement - and without rewards or punishment. When children are allowed to learn on their own, they find success through personal experience, and build self-esteem and internal motivation: an incentive more powerful than any external reward (i.e. grades). Learning IS the reward.
Just as with adults, the freedom to choose what is interesting and thus, what to learn, belongs to each child. As parents, we should foster that freedom by offering a calm, peaceful, and inspired environment in which they can make those choices without hindrance. I don't mean free-for-all chaos, but rather that we accept the understanding that our children to know what to do. We observe and honor our children's interests (even if they may not reflect our own expectations or desires) and support them, offering help and guidance as requested, and teaching only through example - trusting they'll learn at their own pace, in their own time, as they desire and need.
Imagine the possibilities if everyone could learn and explore their desires as they are naturally inclined to, without fear of failure, self-guided and internally motivated. It would be like having the world in your hands - limitless.