This is my boys’ collection of big cat figurines. Yeah, that’s a lot of lions, tigers, leopards, and cheetahs. We were able to collect most of these at garage sales (of course) and this is now one of the very few sets of toys I’m saving for my future grandkids. Such good memories. But this collection of big cats mostly reminds me about what I value in education: Going Deep.
For a solid year or so when he was about 8, my son Stevo would eat and breathe Big Cats. I couldn’t keep up with his obsession and his desire to learn about these powerful animals. It wasn’t part of our formal studies, I didn’t plan to do Big Cats that year, I didn’t even have a curriculum. He just had an obsession and I went with it. (His five-year old brother went along for the ride and they obesesed about big cats together). We went to the library and watched videos and learned everything we could (there was one visit to the zoo in there too). And yes, there was a lot of climbing and perching on furniture and pouncing on each other while pretending to be big cats.
True learning doesn’t happen by just being exposed to something or just dipping your toes in the water. I remember from my own schooling, that kind of exposure didn’t really stick with me as an adult. But when I was given the opportunity to go deep, that stuck with me. It made me who I am.
Now ten years later I’m not sure if Stevo could rattle off all the facts he used to know about big cats. Some of those details are gone. But it did teach him how to learn, how to be curious, how to immerse yourself in a subject just for the enjoyment of it.
Later as a teenager, he went deep in learning everything he could about personal fitness, calisthenics, nutrition. Again, not a class, not a curriculum, just a tremendous desire to learn. He wanted results, LOL. I l love seeing him chase that passion and it’s good to know I have a personal trainer in the house should I ever need one 🙂
This past year that ability to go deep transferred to his work as an appliance saleman. Now he doesn’t have a natural passion for dishwashers, turns out. But he does have a passion for serving his customers well and succeeding in his job. He is applying what he learns and he sees the purpose for learning it. His knack for absorbing trivia (“Did you know?”) means he’s been able to memorize an obscene amount of information on every kitchen appliance being made right now. He can go deep.
Let your kids go deep. When I see my kids with a thirst for knowledge or understanding, then we’re headed in the right direction.
Cultivate the “did you know?” in your kids. Going deep can look like a thousand different things. Academic topics, sports, arts, social situations, politics, hobbies. When they are are truly going deep, you can spot it because it’s what they can’t talk enough about. There is a natural desire to share what they are passionate with others. Feed the passion, listen, and learn!