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If you could choose all of a traditional school's program, what would you want?


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Dream. Dream BIG!

 

Even though these boards are primarily for home education purposes, I want to hear your ideas on this subject. I want you to dream big, but you must dream with an academic focus.

 

After homeschooling four kids all the way through high school graduation, I began teaching in a local private Christian school. Not classical, but close. We have a great new headmaster as of last year who is inclined classically. We developed a strategic planning committee, of which I'm on. Now, I've been made Scope and Sequence Coordinator while we write a completely new S&S. Because of this, the HM has given me free reign to redesign the entire academic program. This may be as close to opening my own school as I'll ever get. All, of course, is subject to approval.

 

We are in process of redoing everything to get the *best* academic program that we can. We are rethinking actual academic instruction time in light of global successes; we are rethinking course requirements and selections.

 

*IF* you could have anything in a school, what would you want academically?

 

Our goal is to give ordinary people an extraordinary education. I want to be sure to turn over every stone I can. Please help me not to miss something!

 

Thanks!

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I would like to see

 

 

  • a truly rigorous math program, with two years of calculus in high school
  • an integrated science approach, teaching biology, physics and chemistry simultaneously beginning in middle school (as it is done in many European countries)
  • two modern foreign languages, beginning early and taught by native speakers so that students reach true proficiency by the time they graduate

 

And I am not being an utopist here: this is the kind of education I had myself in a public school.

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Hey Janie! I love keeping up with your new ventures! So exciting.

 

Here are some things off the top of my head:

 

*mandatory musical instrument in grades 5 - 8 (choir might count). Student could drop for other interests in high school. The idea being that everyone would have beginning music instruction and at least four years of some instrument.

 

*True art taught in younger grades and an art history class in the high school years. I'm thinking true art that coordinated with the era of history being studied. Not crafts. :tongue_smilie: My ideal would be an art teacher that would work hand in hand with the history teacher. My ds had a class in which they worked on mimicking a masterpiece that the art teacher had selected. Almost the entire semester was spent on that one piece. It wasn't a quick "cut the construction paper and glue it on" project. The works were amazing -- from a group of very ordinary kids, IMO. The high school class would teach art history from a Christian worldview and would incorporate as much philosophy as art.

 

*A track of Latin and Greek (a la The Highlands School).

 

*A senior project or paper, with a dedicated outside professional or inside teacher that oversaw and steered it along with the student.

 

*Half-day Kindergarten -- it's all that's necessary.

 

*Literature done as a tutorial. This might be hard in a school setting, but you did say ideal. My ideal would be a teacher leading a group of 10 students --12 tops --in a round-table-type, socratic discussion of literature beginning in the middle school years.

 

*Two years of speech and debate in 9th and 10th. :D It's really hard to fit this into a schedule and perhaps just impossible. But, the academic, social and even spriritual benefits are huge. I could send you my list of benefits which might convince you to include at least one year. Speech and debate gives a platform for what can seem like stale disciplines of rhetoric and logic. And no better way to teach research, analysis or reasoning, IMO.

 

*A solid year of world geography rather than history in 8th (before hitting the high school years) and a school-wide National Geography Bee.

 

Done with my ds's spelling so have to get off, but those are off the top of my head. Can't wait to see this thread.

 

Lisa

Edited by FloridaLisa
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  • Children are enrolled at school in the first grade.
    Kindergarten doesn't exist as a part of school; it's lumped together with preschool institutions and not with elementary, it's not academic and attendance is optional.
    School is begun, ideally, at 6 years old, though exceptions can be made to accept exceptional 5 year olds who can no longer profit from their academics being delayed, as well as to defer, for a year 6 year olds who are by parental and/or medical assessment not considered cognitively, emotionally or developmentally ready for school at that age and are thus allowed to start at 7 years old.
  • Children in elementary are taught all classes, except for music and foreign languages (as those even at elementary level require an expert, i.e. somebody with a degree specifically in it), by the same teacher 1st through 3rd or 4th grade.
  • Qualifications: 1st-3rd/4th grades can be taught by somebody with a more general education degree. 4th-5th grade onwards, children must be taught each class by somebody with an academic degree in that specific field and a specialization/MA.
  • Mathematics up to two-year calculus on the standard route; also, a more integrated math program.
  • Simultaneous sciences starting middle school, with 2-3 hours weekly per science. Labs in shifts (first week Bio, second week Chem, third week Physics, then again Bio, etc.) from about 6th-7th grade onward. All kids should have practical experiences with sciences, and the ultimate goal is a solid scientific literacy by the end of high school.
  • Music lessons even in the elementary and middle include solfeggio. All children must learn how to read music, the basics of music theory, should be given practice hearing tests and should learn about various forms of music. In high school Music History is covered as an additional class to History and Art History.
  • 4-year cycle of Art History in high school.
  • Compulsory attendance of at least one or two musical / theatrical performance per semester, as well as of at least one art exhibition, in middle and high school. School cooperates with other institutions to provide cheaper tickets for students in case they go in groups rather than with their parents, though students are usually allowed to pick which performances and exhibitions they'd like to see.
  • Two modern foreign languages, at least one of them starting right away in elementary, and the other one in late elementary or early middle school. At least in the first modern foreign language the goal is literacy, so in late middle and in high school that language is taught with at least a few yearly literature readings. Actual readings, not teen novels - e.g. Balzac or Zola for French, Mann for German, you get the idea. At least in the first foreign language one should by graduation reach the level in which one is truly comfortable with the language.
  • Latin taught from 4th-5th, and Greek from 6th-7th grade. Classics may be dropped after 9th-10th grade, to pursue other interests, but all children will have been exposed to both classical languages enough to master them morphologically, syntactically and they will have worked on large chunks of original texts and will have acquired certain cultural literacy.
    However, students are greatly encouraged to continue at least with Latin until graduation. (If the setting of this ideal school is Italy, Latin remains compulsory until graduation, of course.)
  • Middle school history cycle (which can be 3-year to allow a year of American history in 8th grade); high school history cycle (4-years), chronologically tied with Art History, Literature and Music History
  • A year of formal logic in high school followed by at least two years of philosophy
  • A solid Geography instruction in middle school: physical geography, world and national geography, geology and human geography
  • A senior thesis / research work in high school, min. 25-30 pages, on any topic in any class under the mentorship of the class professor, as well as defending that thesis in front of the commission

 

Not too much of an utopia, actually - I received an education very similar to that.

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Regentrude,

 

I'd love to hear more about

 

  • an integrated science approach, teaching biology, physics and chemistry simultaneously beginning in middle school (as it is done in many European countries).

 

Can you explain to me how this is set up?

 

If you, or anyone else has knowledge of the sequence of classes in European or Japanese classrooms, please tell me! I'm very interested!

 

Thanks!

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I had just come back to add solfeggio to my post, and drawing, not just art, but actually learning how to draw and practicing it enough to be able to do it (fairly simple - just a matter of a little instruction and lots of practice, rather like solfeggio).

 

Ester - how many hours a week did you spend on school + homework? Just curious...

 

-Nan

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I'm going to echo the response of Ester Maria. The areas of weakness I see the most in the classical schools around here (NE GA) are the lack of emphasis on science/technology, higher math, and modern foreign language. I'm all for the classics, but let's face it; in our world math and science drive technology and that is what our 21st world is built on. And I still believe that knowing a modern language fluently will be a driving force in who gets employed in our ever downsizing global economy.

 

BTW, Ester Maria and Regentrude, where were you educated? My ps education never came close to what you guys had! LOL!

 

Jennifer

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BTW, Ester Maria and Regentrude, where were you educated? My ps education never came close to what you guys had! LOL!

 

 

I was born and went to school in Germany. To be precise: in East Germany before the fall of the Wall.

I did not like the political system, even when growing up - but in hindsight I have to say that our school education was excellent compared to the average US public school. (And this despite a huge amount of time wasted for political indoctrination, pre-military training and other communist nonsense.)

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Regentrude,

 

I'd love to hear more about

 

  • an integrated science approach, teaching biology, physics and chemistry simultaneously beginning in middle school (as it is done in many European countries).

 

Can you explain to me how this is set up?

If you, or anyone else has knowledge of the sequence of classes in European or Japanese classrooms, please tell me! I'm very interested!

 

 

In Germany, they introduce the sciences like this: biology is started in 5th grade, physics in 6th grade, chemistry in 7th grade. All students have 2-3 hours of each science a week, and that continues to upper high school (I believe that in the last two years or so you get to drop one nowadays; when I went to school, all three were continued throughout high school.)

 

You should search older posts; I know that Ester Maria has written in very much detail about her version of it- I believe there was a post in the Curriculum forum just recently.

 

Foreign languages: currently, 1st language starts in 3rd grade (usually English), 2nd language (French, Russian, Latin) in 6th grade, then there is a possibility for a 3rd language at some later point. This means you have a long time to really study the language. Teaching a foreign language for two or four years only is not enough time to develop true fluency.

Edited by regentrude
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Ester - how many hours a week did you spend on school + homework? Just curious...

The scheme I described here doesn't perfectly correspond to my own education, as how we planned our daughters' education was modelled not only by our own schooling, but also by several other (Mittel-European and Eastern European) school systems, after a thorough research.

 

The basic scheme for the old classical lycee was something like 30 hours of instruction weekly, but there were a heck lot of experiments (experimental classical lycees with art history focus, or with double foreign languages, or college-style with law and economy, etc.), and a lot of schools took the liberty of basically designing their own curriculum, adding hours, so very often the number of hours of instruction weekly went up. It would be hard to say how many weekly hours of instruction I had in which year, but my guess is that it was around 40, with two modern foreign languages (mind you, some had even three, but I gave up on that third one), stronger math than prescribed for classical lycees, additional hour for Latin and Greek, etc. School was six days a week, though sometimes I'd take the liberty of not coming Saturdays (and not only Saturdays... :D I was a bit of a rebel, bunking school from time to time for full days or several hours only).

 

Homework... They actually weren't big on it. I don't remember spending excessive hours doing homework, except that there was a lot of reading required, so I did read a lot for school, for literature, languages and philosophy. Also, translations for classics and stuff like that, and usual few problems for math or physics, but other than that, I don't recall doing much school at home. I attended a very traditional school, there were no such things as group projects, craftsy stuff we had to do at home, etc., so that saved a lot of time. There were also not fancy long lunch breaks or free periods or huge sports, so the whole focus of the school was different.

There also wasn't a lot of writing - which, looking back, might not have been such a great thing. I also worked a lot for my graduation thesis and I actually studied for final graduation exams, but other than that, not so much.

Mind you, I also wasn't a perfect-GPA student (does that surprise you? ;)), who cared about grades studied more of course. I cared a little, but wasn't one of those that were really really pushing themselves towards 10s (10s were quite impossible to get anyway, that's sort of beyond-A+ grade).

 

But generally, on average, I think it was around 45-50 hours weekly, all together (school + studying), which is IMO just how it should be in high school.

I definitely had more than enough free time to socialize, get a rudimentary Jewish education, read on my own, etc.

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I'm going to echo the response of Ester Maria. The areas of weakness I see the most in the classical schools around here (NE GA) are the lack of emphasis on science/technology, higher math, and modern foreign language. I'm all for the classics, but let's face it; in our world math and science drive technology and that is what our 21st world is built on. And I still believe that knowing a modern language fluently will be a driving force in who gets employed in our ever downsizing global economy.

This is actually one of my pet peeve of Italian classical schools: (usually) the lack of really good science and math. Not to mention that before Gelmini (I don't like Gelmini reform AT ALL, by the way, but there is a good point or two) you didn't have to continue with a modern foreign language in triennio (10th-12th grade)... but you had 5 hours of Latin weekly even if a scientific school. :lol: Italy was steoretyped for a really long time as "a place where youngsters know Latin better than English" and, sadly, it was mostly correct.

 

I really am in favor of a thorough classical education, with Latin and Greek from middle school (in Italy they usually start it older, in 8th), but I'm not in favor of studying classics at the exclusion of sciences or modern languages, as was quite often the case in Italian lycees.

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I was born and went to school in Germany. To be precise: in East Germany before the fall of the Wall.

I did not like the political system, even when growing up - but in hindsight I have to say that our school education was excellent compared to the average US public school. (And this despite a huge amount of time wasted for political indoctrination, pre-military training and other communist nonsense.)

 

I figured it had to be a European education. On a side note, I visited E. Germany in 1984, the year I graduated from college. Now, imagine a naive southern US gal who had never traveled outside of the SE US, visiting a communist country. It was a huge wake up call to me about freedom and liberty. Please do not mistake what I mean, but I'll never forget how shocked I was at the presence of all the military (with machine guns), literally on every corner I saw in E. Berlin. However, I was quite impressed with the guides who knew German & world history to a depth that I had never been exposed to, even in my college history courses. Perhaps the political system was insane, but it sounds like they did something right in education.

 

Jennifer

Edited by Jen the RD
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I really am in favor of a thorough classical education, with Latin and Greek from middle school (in Italy they usually start it older, in 8th), but I'm not in favor of studying classics at the exclusion of sciences or modern languages, as was quite often the case in Italian lycees.

 

Yep, this is exactly how I feel!

 

Jennifer

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Regentrude,

 

I'd love to hear more about

 

  • an integrated science approach, teaching biology, physics and chemistry simultaneously beginning in middle school (as it is done in many European countries).

 

Can you explain to me how this is set up?

 

If you, or anyone else has knowledge of the sequence of classes in European or Japanese classrooms, please tell me! I'm very interested!

 

Thanks!

 

I was born and raised in Flanders, Belgium and choose the science track in jr high and high school. As of 7th grade, students can choose 3 options:

^ main stream with or without Latin (You will need to attend a university)

 

^ Technical (You'll learn a profession but will still be able to go to a university. Most students do not.)

 

^ Professional ( You'll learn a profession but may not attend a university)

 

Main stream teaches 6 hours of Latin each week throughout the school year. Included also are 2 modern foreign languages. (French and English. French is thought in elementary school also) Obviously there is Dutch to learn also. (mother tongue) Then there is math and all the sciences. A certain amount of hours of biology, geography and physics (simple at first) are thought every week for a whole year. (I believe it's 2 hours, 1 hour practicum and 1 hour lesson) If you study Latin, then only 1 year is devoted to 1 hour of music and 2 hours of art for a whole year. It is waived in the 8th grade. I believe the others stop having it in the 9th grade. Oh and I almost forgot 2 hours of P.E. and 2 hrs of religion. (students have a choice of the religions that are recognized by the government: Catholic, Protestant, Islam, 'moral' not sure how to translate this but it is more like a philosophy class)

 

From 9th grade on, choices are more specific. There are a few main routes to take. (Today kids can choose more electives then when I was in high school. Religion and P.E. are mandatory throughout high school)

 

^ Math (with or without Latin): 8 hrs of math each week, 2 hours of every science (biology, physics, chemistry, geography) computer science (Don't remember hrs), 2 hrs French, 2 hrs English, 6 hrs Latin, 4 hrs Dutch.

 

^ Science (with or without Latin): 6 hrs math, 3 hours of every science (with one of them being independent practicum) rest same as math

 

^ Latin and Greek: 8 hrs of Latin, 4 hrs of Greek, 4 hrs of math, limited sciences and all the above modern languages, 2 hrs of every science

 

^ Economics (with strong or 'weak' math) 6 or 4 hrs of math, limited sciences, lots of languages (Dutch, English, French, Spanish, German), economy

 

^ Human Science: emphasizes psychology, art, music, sports, sociology. French, English and Dutch are still mandatory, as is math, but only 4 hrs. I believe the sciences are reduced to 1 hr a week.

 

 

The route a student chooses will heavily influence his/her college major. The first 3 routes are the hardest and most demanding. If you graduate from one of these, you can basically major in anything in college.

 

 

Hope this helps!

Edited by momof2cm
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I was born and raised in Flanders, Belgium and choose the science track in jr high and high school. As of 7th grade, students can choose 3 options:

^ main stream with or without Latin (You will need to attend a university)

 

^ Technical (You'll learn a profession but will still be able to go to a university. Most students do not.)

 

^ Professional ( You'll learn a profession but may not attend a university)

 

Main stream teaches 6 hours of Latin each week throughout the school year. Included also are 2 modern foreign languages. (French and English. French is thought in elementary school also) Obviously there is Dutch to learn also. (mother tongue) Then there is math and all the sciences. A certain amount of hours of biology, geography and physics (simple at first) are thought every week for a whole year. (I believe it's 2 hours, 1 hour practicum and 1 hour lesson) If you study Latin, then only 1 year is devoted to 1 hour of music and 2 hours of art for a whole year. It is waived in the 8th grade. I believe the others stop having it in the 9th grade. Oh and I almost forgot 2 hours of P.E. and 2 hrs of religion. (students have a choice of the religions that are recognized by the government: Catholic, Protestant, Islam, 'moral' not sure how to translate this but it is more like a philosophy class)

 

From 9th grade on, choices are more specific. There are a few main routes to take. (Today kids can choose more electives then when I was in high school. Religion and P.E. are mandatory throughout high school)

 

^ Math (with or without Latin): 8 hrs of math each week, 2 hours of every science (biology, physics, chemistry, geography) computer science (Don't remember hrs), 2 hrs French, 2 hrs English, 6 hrs Latin, 4 hrs Dutch.

 

^ Science (with or without Latin): 6 hrs math, 3 hours of every science (with one of them being independent practicum) rest same as math

 

^ Latin and Greek: 8 hrs of Latin, 4 hrs of Greek, 4 hrs of math, limited sciences and all the above modern languages, 2 hrs of every science

 

^ Economics (with strong or 'weak' math) 6 or 4 hrs of math, limited sciences, lots of languages (Dutch, English, French, Spanish, German), economy

 

^ Human Science: emphasizes psychology, art, music, sports, sociology. French, English and Dutch are still mandatory, as is math, but only 4 hrs. I believe the sciences are reduced to 1 hr a week.

 

 

The route a student chooses will heavily influence his/her college major. The first 3 routes are the hardest and most demanding. If you graduate from one of these, you can basically major in anything in college.

 

 

Hope this helps!

 

 

Oops, forgot to write down history. The more science oriented routes have only 2 hrs of history each week. If I;m not mistaken there is more in Human Science.

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^ Latin and Greek: 8 hrs of Latin, 4 hrs of Greek,

WOW.

I attended a killer classical lycee in Italy, but even we didn't have 8 hours of Latin weekly. Have you, by chance, attended that specific route so I can ask more questions about the classics instruction? :001_smile:

 

I'm copying your post and sending it to my daughter's email. I don't want any more complaining about how she has to do too much Latin after reading this. Thanks. :tongue_smilie:

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WOW.

I attended a killer classical lycee in Italy, but even we didn't have 8 hours of Latin weekly. Have you, by chance, attended that specific route so I can ask more questions about the classics instruction? :001_smile:

 

I'm copying your post and sending it to my daughter's email. I don't want any more complaining about how she has to do too much Latin after reading this. Thanks. :tongue_smilie:

 

My husband did all the way through 10 grade. Then he switched to science with Latin cause he wanted to pursue a degree in engineering and Latin and Greek did not offer enough math. Even with switching in 11th grade, he took a math and physics prep year in college. He told me that in the last 2 years of high school they only read/translated original Latin texts. I think that's very cool.

 

I studied science and Latin, but had to drop Latin in the 10 grade. It was too much for me and I spend all my time studying Latin only. Results: flunked all other subjects. By dropping Latin, I saved my year. I guess not everybody can pull it off.

 

I did check our school's (hubby and mine) curricula list for this school year and it seems that they have cut back on Latin. Latin has been reduced by 2 hours in every 'route' and replaced by subjects like sociology and more computer science.

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Mind you, I'm going on maybe half a brain, the flu is making its rounds over here.... I've been thinking about this thread on and off.

 

The thing that I would love is varying levels and speeds of doing subjects, somehow a way so that everyone doesn't have to do the "rigorous" thing. Some kids just aren't wired to. Some way to address the math/science brain versus the creative/language arts based brain. The only not-thought-through way this might happen is to do stations where there are varying speeds and levels of the subject. You would work at a pace good for you, when you master, you move on. That way faster kids can breeze through, and the pondering kids can have time to ponder and learn. The subjects I am thinking of are foreign language, math, and science. Math/science kids would probably appreciate this for art ( :) ). I have creative/languaged based kids, so that is the knowledge I am working from. They are great students, but definitely have their way to learn things. I even talked with an art professor at my ds college. And I have talked with the English chair as well. Both said they have problems getting their degree candidates through harder math and science. Ds college addresses this by having lower level math and science requirements for their majors. They have to do the credits, but have options with less difficulty.

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Here is what I'd suggest (I know it's not all classical):

 

1. Have all grades combined in the same classroom (like homeschool). That way, it makes for a better atmosphere in the school than the typical one age only classrooms. Have the older students tutor the younger ones. It changes the students so they become responsible instead of being irresponsible. It also helps the older students retain the material better. No better way to reinforce learning than having to teach the material.

 

2. Concentrate on skills and teach top level skills. Emphasize the skill of writing, of solving math problems, of speaking a foreign language, of thinking and analyzing deeply, etc. Teach the students to be mathematicians, scientists, writers, etc. rather than teaching them about those subjects. Mathematicians solve problems. Scientists perform experiments. Historians research history. They don't sit around reading textbooks or listening to other people talk about their subject very much. It's the difference between reading a book about China and actually living in Chinese culture. It's the difference between reading a book about basketball and playing a basketball game.

 

3. Write your curriculum so it's clear to teachers that the students should be immersed in the subject and actually become scientists, historians, athletes, etc., and not just learn about the subject.

 

4. I suggest each of the following subjects on a daily basis:

- English Grammar and Writing

- Math- use 2 curriculums- 1/2 hour each.

- Foreign Language (2 languages daily) taught in the target language

- Music (everyone plays an instrument in the orchestra and sings in choir)

- Recess (give the kids a break- 1/2 hr. in am, and 1/2 hr. in pm)

- P.E. (play a sport, not P.E. class- change sports, depending on season)

- English- Reading

- Worship service (short)

 

Other classes would not be held daily, but would rotate days, including:

-History

-Science

-Geography

-Public Speaking

-Discussion

-Critical Thinking

-Values

-Religion

-Art

-Philosophy

 

5. I suggest some individualized learning (like homeschool), especially for Math and English, but also some whole class activities, some seminar-style discussions, and some small group activities. Very little time with the teacher standing in front of the class teaching a subject (similar to homeschool). Each younger student would be paired with an older student who would help the younger one, as needed to help take the load off the teacher and to help the older student learn to be responsible (like a big homeschool family).

 

6. I also suggest a no homework policy, except for reading or projects. No busy work. Evenings are for family time, but school should be 9-5 to correspond to most parents' work schedules and to avoid having unsupervised kids at home (latchkey kids) getting into trouble.

 

7. I also suggest community service. For example, take off one afternoon/week and perform some community service work for a non-profit in the community.

 

:tongue_smilie: :auto:

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