Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finding our Learning Niche

I have always known I would never send my children to industrialized  (public or private) school if it was at all possible. I have home schooled children in the past, and loved seeing children who were once suffering in the system become very involved, intelligent young adults. The children I home schooled each required their own style. One very structured with specific assignments I would devise based on what I perceived to be her interests (my guesses seemed pretty spot on) with pretty strict due dates. We tried other routes, but that was all that worked for her. The younger one started out very frustrated, not being able to read in the 3rd grade. When given the opportunity to learn his own way, and choose his own topics, he excelled. He would pick his topics, devise a system for attaining the information, and create a way to present what he was learning. The youngest was very little, so there wasn't really structure for him, mostly playing and manipulatives to assess. 

That said, I thought I had a pretty good idea on how to shape my children's learning experiences.  Follow their cues, meet them where they are, encourage them to reach farther. We are still a young family, so we haven't really begun "school," but I had ideas. IDEAS, ya hear?
L1 playing with our sensory tub.

My husband has always been on board with this, in the way he is on board with most of the ideas I have: "Sounds good to me," without anymore input that that. Don't get me wrong, I love that he just accepts my ideas and follows through. Sometimes, a girl would appreciate a little feedback.

Then a friend introduced us to Thomas Jefferson Education. I thought the book was great at explaining the "why" industrialized schools tend to fail so many children. The theory is "conveyor belt" education is set up like a factory: everyone in the class gets the same education at the same age from the same textbooks, and they are tested the same and graded based upon the same scale regardless of their individual talents, goals, interests, personal mission. Conformity is the name of the game in public education. But, I ask: What is it? The site's answer is "Once you’ve read five classics in math, five in science, five in history, and five in literature, you won’t be asking that question anymore." Well, ok. Thanks?

Why is this topic for discussion then? Remember my "supportive, but no-feedback giving" husband? Yeah, he read the book too. And he loves the ideas. So much, he really wants to use this format for our homeschooling endeavors. Guess I should be careful what I wish for? No, I'm just kidding. But, that is all well and good, I am glad he is excited, and has ideas, and wants to be a part of this. But still: HOW DO WE DO THIS?

Luckily, the TJEd group in our area is already organized. There are book groups, field trips, classes, etc. And this weekend there is a Basics Workshop. So, we registered, and hopefully we will learn more about it.

I am still feeling like I am more of a relaxed style, and don't really like the idea of structuring learning. But, I know a) My husband is looking for a style that is a little more "tangible" and "traditional" and b) My sons might need that kind of structure, so I may as well gain some insight to a way to do so without tedious workbooks and tests. The idea of teaching as the true geniuses of the past learned does spark an interest for me. I hope this workshop will have lots of great information for our family.

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