Hindsight is 20/20. No where is that more apparent than when it comes to educating our children. How many hundreds of books did I try exposing my reluctant reader to before the spark was finally lit, not by a book, but by his scouting magazine. Who would have thought that fossil found on a family hike would have begun an all and out obsession with paleontology.
How Lincoln Learned to Read by Daniel Wolff looks back at what may have started famous Americans on their paths to success. It identifies what experiences, classrooms, people or hardships cultivated Henry Ford into a mechanical mastermind instead of an environmental scientist like Rachel Carson.
Some of the personal histories are steeped with connections to homeschooling, more specifically unschooling and self directed education, while others are more traditional. But each retrospective reminds the reader that so much of the vital learning that takes place is not what was part of a plan or pre-described goal. Often, it is what happened despite the plan.
Reading this book will not give you a systematic guide to teaching your child to read. Nor will it give you the basic rules to help you raise the next famous American to add to the history books. Instead, this book clearly points out that each journey is different, influenced by countless factors, not reproducible, and only truly understood in retrospect.
Never the less, it inspires and guides. It opens your eyes to finding the value in the education being given by so many sources other than yourself. The influences of a child’s home, individuals they meet on a museum tour or nature center class, the world and local events of the time and so many more. Will the next great American biography include a description of how a field trip to a super computer began a lifelong passion or a TV documentary was the jumping block into figuring out a solution no one had thought of before? I guess we will wait and see. But as we wait, we will look at each day and activity as a piece of a puzzle without the box cover to know where each piece goes, at least not yet.