June 9, 2010

My thoughts on Men's Week

(Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. My laptop charger cord died and we were down to one computer. With my husband claiming to need the computer to study every night, I couldn't get a blog in edgewise. The new cord came in the mail today--bless you amazon--so I'm back!)

During Men's Week, several ideas jumped out at me. I wanted to discuss some of those ideas.

1) From J.: ". . . the love of reading is KEY to individuality in learning and understanding." I thought this was an interesting idea because homeschoolers often talk about individualizing, or personalizing, education for each child as a positive of homeschooling. I would argue, however, that a child who is taught to love to read will naturally love to learn and will always personalize their education. For example, how many of you ever read a novel during a science class? There you go--you were personalizing your own education. (I had a science teacher that would ask me what I was reading at the beginning of every class and when I bawled the whole hour while reading Goodbye, Mickey Mouse he only mocked me a little bit.)

I'm not trying to take away from a homeschooling parent's ability to personalize, I'm just saying the all children who love to read personalize their education. Some kids know a whole lot about Sacketts, and others about elves, and others about murder mysteries. I knew a lot about historical fiction. And dragons. I love me a good dragon book.

As a reader and long time self-educator, I know how to find information in a book. So while homeschoolers want to contend that they corner the market on personalized education, it isn't quite true. Reading is the key to an individualized education--as J. pointed out.

2) Also from J., writing about his wife Julia: ". . . and I have enjoyed watching her grow through being challenged socially, politically, scientifically, and mathematically herself." When I read that, all I could think was, oh my, I bet she hasn't always enjoyed being stretched in all those areas. Being a homeschool mom is, well, its hard. It changes us. And change is most often hard.

3) Nick mentioned the time wasting that takes place in school. As a former public school teacher I just want to add an emphatic amen. Don't get me started on announcements.

4) Brett talked about the differences between primary school in Switzerland and the States. There, his second grader comes home at noon. Wouldn't that be awesome--half day second grade? Brett said something important: ". . . and do well academically despite not working like slaves as primary schoolers." I noticed this when we moved from Canada to the States--that elementary school here is so intense. Homework in elementary school?? Crazy.

Many people think that they need to push their children while their children are young and their "sponge-like brains" are absorbing everything. I would argue the opposite. Let your children be little. Let them run and play. They are absorbing everything but the important stuff, like how to be a nice brother and what is heaven, isn't happening during school time. One of my main educational beliefs is that formal schooling shouldn't start until age 8. I don't know if I will put my daughter back into school when she's 8 like I orginally planned, but I do know that the "school" we do now I consider practice for grade 2, and a way to keep my kids out of trouble.

5) Lastly, a few thoughts from my dad that I wanted to discuss. First: "To sum up this lengthy treatise, parents need to provide an educationally rich home environment, instill in their children a belief in the importance of learning and the value of an education, and to teach their children to take responsibility for their own learning."

I thought it was ironic and yet made perfect sense that a die-hard public school supporter would essentially say the same thing that homeschoolers are so fond of saying--teach your children to take responsibility for their own learning. This plays out in a variety of ways. For me and my siblings it meant hearing the inevitable, "Figure it out yourself, I already did my homework," response from my dad if we were desperate enough to ask him for help with homework. Don't ask me how this resulted in children who excelled in school, but it did.

I did well in school because I wanted to go to college and I wanted a scholarship. It wasn't about pleasing my parents. I also wanted to learn. How could I not, with two parents who loved to read, surrounded us with good literature, talked about what we were learning, and continued to learn themselves. It really is about the educationally rich home environment, and belief system that honors education, and giving the responsibility to the children.

My dad also said, "This would be great because the K-12 curriculum is a very small part of what a child should be learning, and, in fact, aside from basic literacy skills, it is probably less important than many other things that parents could and should be teaching their children if they had the time." Another important reminder that school learning is great, but not the most important part of our life-long education.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Ands, I just wondered if you had heard about Obama's "Blueprint for Change" to the No Child Left Behind law.