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I was left with the question though of whether your normal approach to science is already rather in-sync with the humanities. It doesn't sound like you're opening the BJU textbook, doing the chapter, discussing, and calling it good. You're out there pulling in other resources, delving into rabbit trails, etc. So you might naturally be pulling together something that is more fitting to a humanities person, something more concept and thought oriented.

No, not with this daugher - really, I send her to study the darned book.

The other stuff I literally sneak in to spark some interest on her side, because if I labeled it science and gave her those study to study along with the darned book, you bet she would dislike it. So I label it philosophy and it seems to work for now LOL, because it does lead to some minimal tolerance of the subject and even some rabbit trails. I am trying to build up some sort of scientific literacy on the long run, I suppose, a bit without her knowing that is happening - she gets bits and pieces from various places, a bit from dad and evening conversations, a bit from me this way, then something sticks from the darned school book too, she overhears something her sister is doing, so I hope for good results overall, but I am careful not to call it all school or be formal about it. I tried, idealistically, in the past, but got confronted with: "Just allow me to peacefully hate this area, will you?" So I said, alright, dear child, hate it. LOL.

 

So, I guess, rather than changing the approach or the subject itself, I just do some kind of informal enrichment, or foster some connections with other fields, but without her feeling I am adding more time for her to spend on the dreaded subject.

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I tried, idealistically, in the past, but got confronted with: "Just allow me to peacefully hate this area, will you?" So I said, alright, dear child, hate it. LOL.

 

So, I guess, rather than changing the approach or the subject itself, I just do some kind of informal enrichment, or foster some connections with other fields, but without her feeling I am adding more time for her to spend on the dreaded subject.

 

Interesting. So then what texts are you using? Are these in english or something else? See at least here we have pecking orders for science texts, just like math. Unfortunately, sometimes when you slide down the pecking order, what changes is not just the amount of content but the quality of the writing, the user-features (graphics, pictures, etc.), the quality of the supplements.

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Both Kuhn and Snow are "dated"; however, they are classics in the field of the history of science. That's partly why I thought they might appeal to your history-lover. Both are short books -- Snow's particularly so. Both should be readily available in paperback editions.

 

 

Well I just looked those up, and that's a whole world of thought I didn't knew existed! Hmm. As I read the comments about Snow, I was trying to figure out if, maybe in this day and age of Star Trek and whatnot, some of that has become outdated. And I didn't quite understand if the discussion of scientific method vs. scientific viewpoint in the wikipedia article was akin to what Hunter was talking about (not directly, but more or less), sort of a glorification of observation over method. But maybe they were just saying the humanities person approaches science with scientific viewpoint rather than scientific method?

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At some point you have to stop the insanity of making her spend multiple hours a week sifting through information that doesn't matter to her, isn't going to stick, etc. etc. I mean it's just the epitomy of school stupidity. I keep her home to do something different . . .

 

Exactly.

 

That's the realization I'm trying to wrap my brain around right now, too.

 

I've been following this thread, even though I wouldn't classify my son as a history lover, because he's most definitely not a math and science guy. Or, perhaps I should say that he has no interest in studying math and science in a textbook-oriented, school-type way.

 

He LOVES shows like Mythbusters, spends hours tinkering in the backyard, makes imaginative creations out of duct tape and cardboard, etc. For a long time, he said he wanted to be an engineer. Then, he figured out just how much math one would have to endure to do that, and he decided he was done with the whole idea.

 

If it helps at all, here's what I think he's going to do for science next year (9th grade):

 

We're creating a course we're going to call something like "Science in Popular Culture." This will include a study of the real-life botany relating to plants mentioned in the Harry Potter books and a study based on the book The Science of Star Wars.

 

For each one of those topics, there will be a loose framework and plenty of room for him to follow what interests him. My daughter is extremely excited about helping us chart the HP/botany portion and will be creating some lessons for him to do.

 

He'll need to complete the lessons his big sister designs and read the Star Wars science book. In addition, he will be required to read at least one book related to either of the primary topics each week. He may select them from books we have at home or from the library. He may also watch documentaries about the topics.

 

He'll need to do some kind of simple experiment every week or two. And, approximately once a month, he'll turn in some kind of larger project.

 

Science will be one of the four subjects he does informally in the afternoon. Assignments for these subjects are going to be required on a rotating basis, one assignment per week, so that each one has something turned in every four weeks. The assignments will be chosen from a long list we'll brainstorm at the beginning of our academic year.

 

So, as you can see, he'll be doing lots of work. He'll just have a lot of freedom to choose exactly what he does. I'm hoping that, with freedom to follow threads that intrigue him and to explore topics as they catch his imagination, he'll both enjoy and remember more.

 

Edit: It occurs to me that one idea I keep bumping up against as I chat about changing our approach next year is what I'll call "the college question." I keep hearing about how I "have to" make sure my son's transcript will appeal to admissions offices when I'm much more concerned with making sure he'll learn well over the next few years. Honestly, I don't remember much of what I learned in high school. (Heck, I didn't even finish high school.) And I remember little of the general education classes I did my first couple of years of college. I pushed through all of those classes I found tedious in pursuit of a piece of paper. It's kind of like The Wizard of Oz. In the end, it turns out the scarecrow didn't need a brain, just a diploma that said he was smart.

 

While I recognize that my kids will need to live in the real world and that I will have to do my part as my son's "guidance counselor" to help him be admitted to the college of his choice, I'm not willing to sacrifice his opportunity to learn in a way that works better for him, just to jump through those hoops.

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Jenny, I think your ideas are terrific! I like how out of the box you've gotten to turn it around into something he'll find interesting. I too thought of the college issue, but it wasn't so much about transcripts and admissions (I don't think you'll have a problem there) as whether he'll have the foundational skills and knowledge to go into college level courses. I'm trying to think whether that really matters. For instance with biology, I really don't think it matters a whole lot. But maybe I'm showing my pitiful background there? Maybe a student with little background would feel swamped in a freshman bio class? Chem on the other hand, mercy a good chem background is a huge advantage. Ditto for physics. But that's the real-life experiences paired with the ability plow through the textbook. As long as you have experiences and skills (gotten in any way), I don't think it's an issue.

 

But I was what I was trying to figure out is: are you trying to organize those experiences and topics in your study to stealthily hit the "normal" topics of the subject? Or are you going to allow him to delve deeply into one niche and not worry about the rest? I could see virtues in both approach, so I was just curious.

 

And yes, if we kept going like we are, dd would be like that scarecrow, with a piece of paper but not much else. But man, the connections she makes with history are astounding. Like today she was reading about Ethiopia, couldn't remember where Belgium was, and when she finally figured that out said that OF COURSE the Belgians would have ended up there because they were involved in some kind of maritime trade rounding the cape, blah blah. Mercy. So something bizarre like that, not taught be me or anything I've done with her, sticks (or maybe it was in that online MARR class from VP?), but she can't find the aortic arches of a worm, something infinitely closer or more observable, memorable. Go figure.

 

PS. What do you mean by larger project? Reports? Models? Something bigger?

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Edit: It occurs to me that one idea I keep bumping up against as I chat about changing our approach next year is what I'll call "the college question." I keep hearing about how I "have to" make sure my son's transcript will appeal to admissions offices when I'm much more concerned with making sure he'll learn well over the next few years. Honestly, I don't remember much of what I learned in high school. (Heck, I didn't even finish high school.) And I remember little of the general education classes I did my first couple of years of college. I pushed through all of those classes I found tedious in pursuit of a piece of paper. It's kind of like The Wizard of Oz. In the end, it turns out the scarecrow didn't need a brain, just a diploma that said he was smart.

 

While I recognize that my kids will need to live in the real world and that I will have to do my part as my son's "guidance counselor" to help him be admitted to the college of his choice, I'm not willing to sacrifice his opportunity to learn in a way that works better for him, just to jump through those hoops.

 

I read this sentiment a LOT here, and I'm not sure where people are getting the idea that disguising the unique nature of a homeschooled education will somehow make the transcript more appealing. Parents are often urged to just list courses as "English 9" or "World History I" instead of something more descriptive, on the grounds that this is "what admissions officers are used to seeing." But that's only what they see on public school transcripts — do we really want our kids to "blend in" with the sea of PS applicants?

 

A couple of weeks ago I googled the course descriptions at the top private prep schools in my city and —low and behold — their courses had exactly the type of titles I would use for the HS courses I'm planning for DS. Instead of "English 9" one school titles it's standard 9th grade course "The Hero's Journey," which is exactly what I'm planning for DS. Other English courses at local prep schools include Self and Society, Utopia and Dystopia (another one I'm planning to do, probably in 11th), American Literature through Film, and Literature of the American West. One school requires Geology and Biology of all 9th & 10th graders, and offers alternatives like Astronomy and Marine Biology, as well as Chemistry & Physics, for 11th & 12th.

 

Someone on another list I'm on recently posted that when she interviewed at Yale, the interviewer told her that many people mistakenly believe that Yale is looking for a class of well-rounded kids, when in fact they're looking for a "well-rounded class of jagged kids." Another posted that PS kids only have their student essay to make themselves stand out, while homeschooled kids have their entire application — transcript, course descriptions, essays, parent's "guidance counselor" letter, etc. Why would homeschoolers squander that opportunity in order to look more like public schoolers?

 

Jackie

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We're creating a course we're going to call something like "Science in Popular Culture." This will include a study of the real-life botany relating to plants mentioned in the Harry Potter books and a study based on the book The Science of Star Wars.

I created a wishlist on Amazon a while ago with dozens of books that relate science fiction to topics like history, biology, physics, anthropology, political science, etc. You might find some fun resources there.

 

Jackie

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Elizabeth, I tend to be a very honest and literal person, but I learned while homeschooling my sons that I needed to get creative with my word choices and curriculum lists, if I was going to be able to be as efficient as possible.

 

I sometimes listed things as the main textbook that I only used as a supplement. The school didn't really care what I did. They just wanted pretty paperwork and good test scores, which I gave them. And then there were the neighbors and my mother in law to attend to. Fancy titles kept people off my back.

 

I had a high/profoundly gifted aspie, and a big brute of a son who wanted to find the most efficient way to finish up and follow his older friends to Las Vegas. We were living in poverty and domestic abuse and were freezing cold and underfed. And neither child was going to better off in the reality of our PS, and in fact the younger son was not allowed to attend because they claimed they couldn't "accommodate" him.

 

So lots of times I stayed up late at night and planned traditional lessons and tried to tweak and beat them into my two nontraditional students, under the worst of circumstances. During my Mennonite phase I gained some courage to change my focus from what was expected to what was useful.

 

The PS is where I learned to call courses "pre-AP". AP Environmental science is described as requiring a broad base of knowledge. Yes, that is true, but the broad base doesn't have to be all that deep. AP sounds rigorous, and like a good plan for 11th and 12th grade. Any course designed to prepare for the AP class sounds good too. So the truth is that MASTERING middle school science in it's ENTIRETY which FEW students accomplish will better prepare students for AP Environmental Science and Human Geography, than the traditional scope and sequence.

 

And I found the topics covered in those AP courses to be USEFUL to my sons at least. They both took nutrition at the C.C. to meet their science requirement and again, I thought that was useful.

 

My "gifted" son and I ploughed our way through most of a chemistry text, when he was about 8th grade and it wasn't that he wasn't up to the rigor and it wasn't that he didn't like science, it was just not useful and efficient enough to claim so much of our time and resources.

 

This is getting long. I'll post more later.

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In no way do I believe in allowing students to be lazy, but as I continue to develop and refine my educational mission statement, I become more and more selective about where I will devote my resources. Sometimes we are wasteful about where we put our wealth, just because it is what everyone else is doing and we are afraid.

 

I needed to be efficient with my boys. There was little to waste. I need to be efficient with myself now. My memory loss issues require extreme efficiency. I have lost so much past mastery and knowledge and my seizures and dissociating make it so difficult to learn new things that my state rehabilitation agency has labeled me too disabled to provide services and funds for.

 

Unlike a lot of others here I believe in social studies. There is a very recent thread on the topic, but I forget with sub forum :-0 I'm so easily distracted :-0 And scientific literacy is imperative to properly understand social studies.

 

I'm gradually putting together a group of worksheets to facilitate science labs/projects that focus on research, observation, creativity, and documentation, but not getting so bogged down in variables that my priorities get neglected.

 

MatchCards isn't that different than ripping apart a really good general science textbook. Once the chapters are apart, it is easier to cover the chapters as single units when they fit in with the social studies unit. I just never found the right textbook :-0

 

I like that the cards are just the most important facts so that I can use real books at whatever level is appropriate. I can read and absorb at a higher level for many geology and biology titles, than I can for astronomy and physics.

 

Some topics I want to cover in more volume. The cards are just enough to give me a spine that can be shuffled and held in my hands. With my memory loss I am disorganized and get off track easily. The stack of cards helps me focus during lesson planning.

 

There are free Bill Nye videos online to supplement the objectives I'm covering right now. Bill Nye is helpful to my "teflon brain" as a social worker labeled it. And also some Netflix titles. I want to push myself as hard as I can, but also be realistic about what is USEFUL. I'm willing to put a LOT of time and money towards what is USEFUL to ME.

 

The middle of Science Matters isn't very useful to me. I like the beginning and the end, but the middle :-0

 

The authors textbook is loaded down with lot and lots of chemistry that isn't useful to me. I KNOW most professors using the text don't assign a lot of it, and guide the student through it. I'm on my own though. If I had a high schooler headed for junior college or a 4 year liberal arts that offered nutrition and environmental science as so many of them do. I'd buy a cheap and used copy of the joy of science text, but I'd probably cut it up for clip art :-)

 

It's not dishonest to use creative labeling when you truly are working HARD to prepare your child or yourself, for your destiny on this earth. I've never been a slacker and few people with enough initiative to post here often are slackers.

 

My youngest son, underage, got the highest test scores of the week, when he applied at the C.C. My older son was repeatedly taken out to lunch by professors so they could learn about his education and childhood. I did things differently, but we didn't slack.

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He LOVES shows like Mythbusters, spends hours tinkering in the backyard, makes imaginative creations out of duct tape and cardboard, etc. For a long time, he said he wanted to be an engineer. Then, he figured out just how much math one would have to endure to do that, and he decided he was done with the whole idea.

 

Edit: It occurs to me that one idea I keep bumping up against as I chat about changing our approach next year is what I'll call "the college question." I keep hearing about how I "have to" make sure my son's transcript will appeal to admissions offices when I'm much more concerned with making sure he'll learn well over the next few years.

This is such an excellent point.

 

I just wanted to ask if you've read Shop Class As Soulcraft by Matthew B Crawford. He has a PhD in philosophy and works as a motorcycle mechanic. There is an excerpt from his book on his website. He makes a great case for the value of working with your hands and creating.

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I was thinking last night about this imaginary scenario. Imagine it is centuries in the future and dogs have become extinct. I know this is silly, but bear with me :-)

 

A mom of a highschooler becomes aware, while doing their literature studies, that her science hating daughter does not know what a dog is. She skims ahead in the science curriculum and sees that the high school recommended topics for dogs is to compare different types of fur under a microscope and compare them to hair; and to dissect a cloned dog liver. There is one single paragraph and one single picture of a whole dog and that is it.

 

Lower level curricula and real books and movies all present the concept of what a dog actually is. Her student doesn't really care what a dog is other than to better understand history and literature and any mention of dogs in the newspaper. What is mom to do?

 

Mom gets lucky. There is an AP exam on "Old Earth". She starts planning a pre-AP exam curricula, using whatever she can get her hands on that focuses on whole animals, plants, machines, buildings, etc instead of studying hairs and single organs. Mom has fond memories of the hair lab, but decides not to inflict it on her daughter.

 

With the time and money mom saves on skipping the hair and cloned organ labs, she is able to purchase a curriculum on extinct languages that spurs her daughter on to a career in linguistics, and she had more time for the 3Rs and character building.

 

10 years later, her science loving son is introduced to dogs in his second grade curriculum and has coloring pages of dogs plastered all over his walls, and begs for every dog video ever produced. She now buys the hair lab, and starts planning a very different high school curriculum for her son, who ends out being on the team that is able to recreate the first healthy, nonviolent, capable of reproducing cloned dogs.

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Hunter, at the risk of being frivolous, you ought to save that post and flesh it out a bit. It'd make a great Dr Who episode...

 

:)

Rosie

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I too thought of the college issue, but it wasn't so much about transcripts and admissions (I don't think you'll have a problem there) as whether he'll have the foundational skills and knowledge to go into college level courses.

 

Here's the thing: I didn't even finish high school. I "dropped out" in the middle of my junior year, having skipped most of my sophomore year, and started classes at the local community college the following Monday morning. I can't say I had much in the way of foundational skills or knowledge (beyond having a knack for writing pretty well), and I did fine. And, in this case, I have the luxury of working with a very bright kid. I have no doubt he'll acquire a lot more skills over the next couple of years than I had when I went to college. And I'm even more sure that he'll have no trouble finding his sea legs once he gets there.

 

But I was what I was trying to figure out is: are you trying to organize those experiences and topics in your study to stealthily hit the "normal" topics of the subject? Or are you going to allow him to delve deeply into one niche and not worry about the rest? I could see virtues in both approach, so I was just curious.

 

Around here, we always say that normal is nothing but the setting on the dryer.

 

That said, my current plan is to require him to do a high-level overview of each subject he'll be doing on his own. He may choose to do that by reading a "spine" I select or by watching a series of videos or selecting some other method I can't think of at the moment. That's the baseline. From there, he may choose to delve as deeply as he wishes into whatever specifics catch his imagination.

 

We'll just have to see if it works out the way I think it will.

 

So something bizarre like that, not taught be me or anything I've done with her, sticks (or maybe it was in that online MARR class from VP?), but she can't find the aortic arches of a worm, something infinitely closer or more observable, memorable. Go figure.

 

Oh, yes. My son is the prince of bizarre connections. I try, I really do. But sometimes he has to explain things to me two or three times before I get what he means. I'm banking on the idea that those connections he discovers for himself will be more interesting and more memorable.

 

PS. What do you mean by larger project? Reports? Models? Something bigger?

 

Sure. Any or all of the above.

 

The plan is for us to sit down together before our academic year begins and brainstorm a long list of ideas for "output" for the four subjects he'll be doing informally. (That's not a good word, but it's the best I've thought of so far.) There are four of those "classes," and he will be required to turn in something for one class each week, on a rotating basis. (First week, history. Second week, science. Third week, geography. Fourth week, religions. Repeat the cycle.) He may choose any one of the project ideas from the list each time around, except that he may not do the same kind of project for the same class more than once each semester. (Edit: And, of course, if he comes up with an idea that really lights up his eyes but isn't on the list, he's welcome to do that, instead.)

 

So far, we've thought of things like:

 

- Write a summary or review of one of the books read for the subject.

- Make a model.

- Do an art project based on a style or technique of a time or place.

- Draw and annotate a picture.

- Do a presentation board.

- Write an essay.

- Research recipes and make a meal. (Works for history and geography.)

- Make a PowerPoint presentation.

- Make a costume (of a literary character, historical figure, etc.).

- Design a travel brochure. (Again, works for history and geography and maybe, with enough imagination, science.)

- Write a "you were there" newspaper story.

- Make a scrapbook about a fictional trip to somewhere or somewhen.

 

We're still trying to think of more ideas. We hope to have a list long enough to make it easy not to repeat too often.

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Jenny, at least for history, I've found lots of application ideas in the resources sections for online AP texts like at Pearsons. http://www.phschool.com/webcodes10/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.gotoWebCode&wcprefix=mtk&wcsuffix=1000 Orders are pretty standard from spine to spine, so it's easy to take their ideas (or the online resources for any other good text) and plug them into whatever you're doing. And nowadays they'll also have web links to primary sources or maps, etc. This particular text usually has 4+ such activities to a chapter.

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Here's the thing: I didn't even finish high school. I "dropped out" in the middle of my junior year, having skipped most of my sophomore year, and started classes at the local community college the following Monday morning. I can't say I had much in the way of foundational skills or knowledge (beyond having a knack for writing pretty well), and I did fine. And, in this case, I have the luxury of working with a very bright kid. I have no doubt he'll acquire a lot more skills over the next couple of years than I had when I went to college. And I'm even more sure that he'll have no trouble finding his sea legs once he gets there.

This was my experience, almost exactly — lousy HS education, with the kind of bare-minimum transcript everyone here warns against, mostly because I was bored stiff and just didn't care. Skipped 11th grade, graduated at 16, and ended up at a small LAC, where I was so freakin happy to have people to talk to and really juicy, challenging courses to take that I no trouble with the coursework (despite having never studied at all in HS). I was just so hungry for that kind of education and environment. The last thing I want is for my DS to end up just "going through the motions" of a bunch of required courses in HS, and then being so burnt out by the time he gets to college that he's lost that hunger.

 

But she, even after dissecting worms multiple times, outlining, studying, doing worksheets, etc., etc. is going to have that info pour right out of her brain, never to stick. It didn't matter in her world. At some point you have to stop the insanity of making her spend multiple hours a week sifting through information that doesn't matter to her, isn't going to stick, etc. etc.
Oh, yes. My son is the prince of bizarre connections. I try, I really do. But sometimes he has to explain things to me two or three times before I get what he means. I'm banking on the idea that those connections he discovers for himself will be more interesting and more memorable.

I know there's a big emphasis around here on making kids just buckle down and learn things, whether they like it or not, but the fact is that for some of these kids the way they "file" information is based on it's meaning/interest/relevance to them. They don't put bits of information in mental file drawers, organized by topic or time frame or some other "logical" category, like other people do. They create these webs of information according to their own logic, which is much more associative and more dependent on how they interpret and process and feel about it.

 

Force-feeding them facts they don't care about, presented in a format that is not very appealing or intuitive for them, is truly pointless because it will just go in one ear and out the other. KarenAnne says that her daughter's brain has two settings — "sponge" & "sieve" — and I would say that's absolutely true for my DS as well. If he's interested in something, he will not only pursue it in far more depth, he'll actually remember it, and once it's added to that "web" of information in his head, he starts making all kind of connections to other things in the web.

 

That's just how these kids learn — it's not a character flaw in the kid, and it's not "indulgent" of the parent to help them learn the way they learn best. They can still cover the same basic information as other kids, they just absorb and process it in a different way.

 

Jackie

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This was my experience, almost exactly — lousy HS education, with the kind of bare-minimum transcript everyone here warns against, mostly because I was bored stiff and just didn't care. Skipped 11th grade, graduated at 16, and ended up at a small LAC, where I was so freakin happy to have people to talk to and really juicy, challenging courses to take that I no trouble with the coursework (despite having never studied at all in HS). I was just so hungry for that kind of education and environment. The last thing I want is for my DS to end up just "going through the motions" of a bunch of required courses in HS,and then being so burnt out by the time he gets to college that he's lost that hunger.

 

 

 

Jackie, may we have a little chat? Your post raises several questions for me.

 

First, you give anecdotal information that a minimal transcript from high school does not really matter. I understand that you were hungry for knowledge and hence most likely sold yourself to a college admissions officer. My concern is that not all adolescents are so self confident that they can project who and what they are in an interview.

 

My son is consumed with a passion for the past. This was clear from his transcript with interesting senior project, his Common App essay, etc. He went to college interviews knowing precisely what he wanted to do. But most adolescents are not that focused. Some do not have passions. Some are almost indifferent to certain subjects until they find a spark--but this may not be at age 14 or 16.

 

Suppose your student says he has no interest in foreign language. Nope, none. Aha! You say. Jack Horner is one of the world's most successful paleontologists who never received a BS because he could not pass the foreign language requirement. I ask (very humbly) how does a parent know that her child is the next Jack Horner? How does a homeschooling parent who frets over the small stuff develop the confidence to know that her child will be recognized for his abilities?

 

 

I know there's a big emphasis around here on making kids just buckle down and learn things, whether they like it or not, but the fact is that for some of these kids the way they "file" information is based on it's meaning/interest/relevance to them. They don't put bits of information in mental file drawers, organized by topic or time frame or some other "logical" category, like other people do. They create these webs of information according to their own logic, which is much more associative and more dependent on how they interpret and process and feel about it.

 

Force-feeding them facts they don't care about, presented in a format that is not very appealing or intuitive for them, is truly pointless because it will just go in one ear and out the other. KarenAnne says that her daughter's brain has two settings — "sponge" & "sieve" — and I would say that's absolutely true for my DS as well. If he's interested in something, he will not only pursue it in far more depth, he'll actually remember it, and once it's added to that "web" of information in his head, he starts making all kind of connections to other things in the web.

 

That's just how these kids learn — it's not a character flaw in the kid, and it's not "indulgent" of the parent to help them learn the way they learn best. They can still cover the same basic information as other kids, they just absorb and process it in a different way.

 

Jackie

 

High school education is not about force feeding facts--nor is classical education. I have missed this being advocated.

 

I return regularly to the concept of technical exercises in the form of piano exercises, trigonometry identities, physics problems. These exercises are not always joyous but they build the connections in the web you discuss. Again, it is the rare student who can observe Newton's Law of Cooling and comprehend what it means without playing with it for a bit. As a piano student, I had to work on developing muscle memory. Sorry, it was buckle down for me, but the results were seen in the ensuing months.

 

I never expected my Calculus students to see things in the same way. I was one of those annoying instructors who would do a problem two or three ways in the hope of connecting with students who thought differently about things. Linear thinkers were agitated by this. They wanted One Way, One Method. I would tell them that I give two solutions (both correct) for the price of one.

 

You used the word "indulgent". I am not using this word. But I do think it is a potential disservice to our students not to prepare them for possibilities. I was criticized for saying this in another thread.

 

As I said, my comments are intended to be part of a friendly chat. They are not intended to ruffle feathers.

 

Jane

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Those of us who advocate the "buckle down and do it" method in some circumstances (I hope we are aware of the fact that we advocate it in some rather extreme circumstances of distaste for a particular non-negotiable area, rather than the standard modus operandi?) do not necessarily advocate doing so in one way alone. If I send a kid to her room to do something she is not particularly fond of, but she has to do, depending on which kid I sent into her room, that might look very differently - one of them is rather visual, learns well with what seems to me as a visual colorful mess on a paper, but to her it makes sense, as she often tends to think laterally, the other one is a more orderly, linear thinker whose notes might look completely differently. The point of no compromise is usually not a way in which something is done (unless there is a certain required type of output, depending on the subject), but what is done. Therefore, I am not quite sure the argument about different learners is quite applicable here - or am I missing something?

 

The whole "the kid cannot concentrate, except when something interests her" argument does not fly for me, and has never flown when my girls were concerned (and I do have one that would be easily classified as an atypical learner) - obviously, if she can concentrate under some circumstances, what we need to work on is how to get herself into that mode even when things are not terribly interesting. That may involve a somewhat different method which suits her better, or it may just involve developing self-discipline. It may not, in our house, involve a restructuring of the content in that way that it takes away from the core (adding? no problem, but not at the expense of the core knowledge - unless there are genuine cognitive issues, of course) or skipping the area altogether because the kid is not thrilled about it. And there is the crux: are we talking here, in Elizabeth's daughter's case, about a fairly extreme "redesign" of a traditional science course into... a history course, rather than a science course, or something in-between... or we are talking about adding the historical component, using history as a sort of spine where applicable, organizing the same content differently - but still covering the same content that would have been covered otherwise? The reason, stripe, why I suggested, maybe, just letting the kid "peacefully hate that area" and just do traditionally, with minimal time, perhaps not even pursuing the highest grades possible (you know, remaining on the level of knowing and understanding, rather than synthesis, original work, etc.... doing a C-level work rather than an A-level work), is because the amount of involvement in such a class is significantly lower, if we talk from a perspective in which nothing is taken away, only organized differently and added - the whole adding thing is actually something one typically does with interested kids, because it is so much more time consuming, consuming that energy which, maybe, kids would prefer to spend on the areas of genuine interest to them, rather than a sort of "fabricated" interest in this way. I am not saying that one is better than the other, personally I think there is a time and a place for each of those approaches, depending on the kid in question, but it is a possible choice which also saves nerves and energy.

 

I know about the "sponge" and "sieve" effects in kids, but personally, I would go as far to claim that most people function that way, that it is not something reserved for the atypical or gifted kids (not that anyone claimed so, but I am just pointing to that). What is really, really important in my view, as a part of education, is the development of work ethic and growing out of being "controlled" by one's impulses to turn into a sieve when one is not interested in something. It is not some kind of fixed nature, for most kids, but a mix of natural inclination and learned behavior - one can attain, in most cases, the minimum of self-discipline needed to successfully finish even unpleasant tasks and, in fact, we are talking about one of the crucial character traits to develop before one enters adulthood. When I notice that in my kids, I view it principally as a challenge to outgrow rather than as a manifestation of their fixed nature to which the rest of the world / studies / whatever should "adapt", because it cannot be "tamed". From our experience, it certainly can - possibly to different extents with different people, and perhaps in some rare it truly cannot, but it is maybe worth considering the option that classes our kids do not enjoy are a good proxy to work on this very important element of mastering one's "nature", in addition to mastering a specific content. Which goes back to my first reply in this thread: if we are talking about normal, average and brighter, cognitively capable children without unique LDs (or with LDs which can be accomodated rather easily), I treat this as a character issue more than anything else. Sort of the same way I would treat very half-hearted housework: if the kid is physically capable of doing it, and we know that for them the request is not out of line (i.e. we are aware of the possible individual differences), do we really treat it as some sort of inner handicap or do we just send them back to do it properly, or work with them on doing it properly if they cannot do it properly themselves?

 

I am not trying to impute to Jackie things which are not present in her post, but her post reminded me why I consistently have an issue with, what seems to me, a particular type of attitude that is maybe willing to take "too much" into account those individual differences... even in cases where they are not as drastic, where kids would be capable of doing things, and doing them fairly well, provided self-discipline and a guided development of that self-discipline at home. In many aspects, the ability to sit down and learn even things that are not particularly interesting is not very different from the ability to comb your hair even if you intend to stay in that day, or from the ability to know when to stop when you eat (or, in the case of those of us who struggle with the opposite, of making yourself eat). In my mind, it is all multiple aspects of the same thing - learning to maximally control and tame your "nature" and your current inclinations. I do not deny that in some cases people may be really incapable of doing so (neurologically), but for most people, it is an ongoing struggle, but a rewarding one. In many ways, that self-discipline is one of the most important things in life, way more important than intelligence per se when it comes to school work. Because of that, I am just unwilling, usually, for usual kids, to cut them too much slack when it comes to things they can do - they do not have to shoot for an A in every camp, but why blow little things out of proportion and turn them into a big problem? If there are no cognitive walls, no unique needs which cannot be met while insisting on the traditional content... just why "indulge" them and set them a message that they cannot do something - or can, but only with drastic adaptations? If they WANT those adaptations, that EXTRA layer of work, it is a whole different situation, of course.

 

Personally, I have observed my kid growing from "Do I haaaaave to translate aaaaaall five lines?" (LOL) into "What, twenty lines, are you underestimating me or what?! No, not that I want more, I loathe Greek, but seriously, no need for you to patronize, I can do what is expected." (imagine lots of teenage eye-rolling here)

Now, THAT is the attitude I want, and the more I see it around, the happier I am as a mother, not only as an educator. Even if I will allow her to quit Greek (attained my requested minimum), and you know what, ultimately, it will not matter what it was about, but it is THAT attitude that I want to attain: the secure, no-nonsense one, "I am capable of doing things" one, "I am EVEN capable of doing Greek in spite of me being sciency" and, most of all "I am capable of mastering my own self, if needed, even for tasks I dislike". It really is an excellent informal school for the kid. Our attitude at home regarding those things is more about presenting them this way, as a challenge, something to draw our strength from.

 

It is not that we are unwilling to recognize that some brains work somewhat differently, or may need more time, or different focus - but while still covering what is expected! - but that we would hate to send the message that joy is a must at all times, that there is no time and place to "just do it", or, worst of all, in a case of truly capable child, that they are not capable of doing something. (Of course, children who are truly incapable, cognitively, of working on some level are excluded from these obaservations.)

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Jane--

I'm sorry. I know your questions were addressed to Jackie, but they sparked some thoughts for me, too.

 

My son is consumed with a passion for the past. This was clear from his transcript with interesting senior project, his Common App essay, etc. He went to college interviews knowing precisely what he wanted to do. But most adolescents are not that focused. Some do not have passions. Some are almost indifferent to certain subjects until they find a spark--but this may not be at age 14 or 16.

 

For me, I suppose that if I had a student who had no real passion, who didn't seem interested in anything specific, I might feel a need to do things differently.

 

Of course, I'm also not sure I would be pushing for college for such a student, at least not right away.

 

In the case of a kid who didn't see a clear academic path, I'd just keep plugging away at the basics, exposing him or her to lots of things and hoping something would click. Still, I don't know, but I kind of doubt that a 14 year old who's been working on, say, Latin for a few years and hasn't learned much will suddenly discover a passion for a field of study that requires even more of the language. And I suspect that, even if that did happen, the student who had exposure to Latin earlier would have a leg up on studying it seriously even after taking a break. So, I can't quite see myself insisting he or she continue past a certain point.

 

However, I don't have kids without passion or direction. I have kids who are passsionate interested in lots and lots of things. For my son, the problem is that "school," in general, just isn't one of them.

 

Suppose your student says he has no interest in foreign language. Nope, none. Aha! You say. Jack Horner is one of the world's most successful paleontologists who never received a BS because he could not pass the foreign language requirement. I ask (very humbly) how does a parent know that her child is the next Jack Horner? How does a homeschooling parent who frets over the small stuff develop the confidence to know that her child will be recognized for his abilities?

 

I fret the small stuff. I just try not to let it get in the way of providing my kids the best education we can manage.

 

My son has no interest in studying a foreign language. (Well, he did want to learn Greek, until I made the mistake of trying to shove him through a formak curriculum.) He's had a few years of light Latin and a couple of Greek. He was supposed to be learning Spanish for two and a half years but can't string together a sentence. Nonetheless, I've made it clear to him that two years of some foreign language at the high school level are required for graduation from our homeschool program. I helped him research options, and he's decided to try Spanish again with a different program. We'll insist on two years, after which he may quit if he wishes to do so.

 

For me, certain things are non-negotiable. But deciding how, exactly, to study them is wide open.

 

High school education is not about force feeding facts--nor is classical education. I have missed this being advocated.

 

There have been a number of posts across a few of these similar threads in which parents have said they simply "make" their student do things, even if the student doesn't like it. There have been posts that suggest kids who do not respond to that approach are exhibiting character flaws and that failing to learn things in that kind of "get 'r done" way is a discipline issue.

 

I suspect Jackie was referring to those posts.

 

I return regularly to the concept of technical exercises in the form of piano exercises, trigonometry identities, physics problems. These exercises are not always joyous but they build the connections in the web you discuss. Again, it is the rare student who can observe Newton's Law of Cooling and comprehend what it means without playing with it for a bit. As a piano student, I had to work on developing muscle memory. Sorry, it was buckle down for me, but the results were seen in the ensuing months.

 

Of course. But not every student will find joy or satisfaction in (or, in fact, be any good at) piano, trigonometry and physics. Some will, and that's terrific. Others will have different passions and talents.

 

My kids work willingly at things they love, even when the work itself isn't fun. My daughter spends hours researching and learning songs for auditions and shows. She takes voice lessons and does vocal exercises and practice every day. Currently, although she's already graduated with a theatre degree, she's been working on making herself a reading list and set of goals to prepare herself to be a working actor. She's redesigned her resume at least three times in the last month. She has registered for dance lessons in the fall, something she has avoided for years, and knows she will be facing hard work to catch up. She went to four auditions this last weekend (each of which required her to prepare something different) and has another tonight. Auditions are emotionally exhausting for her, and she does them knowing she will face rejection more often than success.

 

But she does it all willingly, because she loves theatre and values the rewards.

 

My son, although not in the same place in terms of maturity or commitment, is similar. When he cares deeply about something, he pushes himself harder than I would push him.

 

He went to an audition last night. I had volunteered to take him, even though I didn't think there would be much chance of a role. The audition notice mentioned tap dancing, though, which is something he loves and does well. So, he spent much of yesterday preparing. He selected a song. The notice was a little fuzzy about whether they wanted the normal "16 bars" or the full song. So, he prepared both. He marked his music and practiced singing it both ways. He made sure he had his tap shoes and two copies of his photo and resume. He dressed appropriately. We drove 45 minutes to the theatre, and he spent the next three hours singing, reading from the script, learning and performing the basic dance combination and then the tap version. He did well, and the reward is that he gets to go to a call-back tonight and audition all over again. For a role he might well not get. And, because he loves it, he'll do the same thing next week and next month and over and over again.

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What is really, really important in my view, as a part of education, is the development of work ethic and growing out of being "controlled" by one's impulses to turn into a sieve when one is not interested in something. It is not some kind of fixed nature, for most kids, but a mix of natural inclination and learned behavior - one can attain, in most cases, the minimum of self-discipline needed to successfully finish even unpleasant tasks and, in fact, we are talking about one of the crucial character traits to develop before one enters adulthood. When I notice that in my kids, I view it principally as a challenge to outgrow rather than as a manifestation of their fixed nature to which the rest of the world / studies / whatever should "adapt", because it cannot be "tamed".

 

From our experience, it certainly can - possibly to different extents with different people, and perhaps in some rare it truly cannot, but it is maybe worth considering the option that classes our kids do not enjoy are a good proxy to work on this very important element of mastering one's "nature", in addition to mastering a specific content. Which goes back to my first reply in this thread: if we are talking about normal, average and brighter, cognitively capable children without unique LDs (or with LDs which can be accomodated rather easily), I treat this as a character issue more than anything else.

 

Here is an example of the kind of comment I mentioned.

 

What I see with my kid, and what most of us on this "side" of the discussion seem to be describing, is that our kids can and do go through the motions of studying. As I mentioned in my previous post, my son has a wonderful work ethic and does all kinds of unpleasant things without complaint (or without much, anyway).

 

I have portofolios from the last several years showing all of the things he studied and the grades he earned (good ones). I can pull out and show you neatly finished pages of math and Spanish and Latin . . . But he didn't learn much.

 

My daughter finished her degree last month. She was considered a model student in her program, got good grades and was well liked by her professors. But she is very conflicted about the experience and doesn't feel she learned much.

 

What concerns me, and what is prompting my own examination of our approach, is not that my son "can't" follow the rules and fill out the worksheet. It's that I mourn the wasted energy and lost time that going through the motions requires. We've proven the point. He'll do it if we make him. But why should he? What's the point?

 

If the only reason to persevere with the "just do it" approach is to iron out character flaws, it's not necessary here. At this point, what is most important to me is that my son learn actual content.

 

Sort of the same way I would treat very half-hearted housework: if the kid is physically capable of doing it, and we know that for them the request is not out of line (i.e. we are aware of the possible individual differences), do we really treat it as some sort of inner handicap or do we just send them back to do it properly, or work with them on doing it properly if they cannot do it properly themselves?

 

I would argue, though, that housework is different. These tasks do not require more than going through the motions. It's the motions, in fact, that matter.

 

But when it comes to education, the externals aren't, or in my view shouldn't be, the point.

 

Edit: As I've been reading Ester Maria's posts on this topic, I can't help thinking back to the long discusison about punctuality. I promise I'm not attempting a "gotcha," but I do wonder, Ester Maria, if you can help me understand what seems to me to be an inconsistency? As I recall, your position in the other thread was that being chronically late was simply a character trait, evidence that the late person has other values or another agenda. I'd like to wrap my brain around why this is different?

 

(And, yes, I do realize that I argued "the other side" in that thread, too. However, I think my position on this is a lot like the housework: In these cases, it truly is the external result that matters.)

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Skipped 11th grade, graduated at 16, and ended up at a small LAC...

 

I'm not sure this is so freakishly different from the people putting their dc into the cc for classes which they sometimes haven't had. And certainly I went into a ton of AP level classes in high school for which I didn't have a background. So I definitely hear you, both as that working for some kids and as that level change being necessary to keep some kids engaged.

 

They don't put bits of information in mental file drawers, organized by topic or time frame or some other "logical" category, like other people do.

 

You know, for all my comments the last few years that dd is NOT logical (at least not like I am), I had not made the leap to connecting that to how she learns. So you think we fundamentally have a mismatch in how the info is organized and connected, and that's why it's not interesting, significant, or placed to her? See I would have THOUGHT that the beauty of the classification system would have connected all this for her and made these chapters very interesting. But you're right, her brain processes info so differently (by narrative, not logic) that we could do all this and have her totally MISS the point. I hadn't thought of it that way. Dear me. Now I think I could do some things (make posters that we gradually fill in with the kingdoms and phyla, etc. as we study them.) But you're right, she is not logical in how she approaches things. It's something else, whatever it is. And now I understand the comment someone made to me that history would be her Great Connector. Hmm.

 

They create these webs of information according to their own logic, which is much more associative and more dependent on how they interpret and process and feel about it.

 

You're going to laugh at the obviousness of it, but I've been fiddling with the Meyers-Briggs personality stuff for us, and it turns out dd, on the 3rd aspect (thinking vs. feeling), is the TOTAL OPPOSITE of dh and me. We're both thinking and she is feeling. And according to the book I'm using (Do What You Are by Tieger and Barron, that correlates to, DUH, "How we take in information." In other words, the answer was right there, and I wasn't even seeing it, lol. Now what in the world I DO about that I don't know. I have a hard time getting out of my mocassins and figuring out how a feeler person like her is supposed to connect with jellyfish and earthworms. But whatever, maybe a lightning bolt will hit us. That's why I posted, because it's painfully obvious to me that, while I can get the info in, I'm not going to be able to make it stick. And repetition would only be short term. There's something fundamentally lacking, a connector, a relevance to ANYTHING at all in her brain so that it has a way to file and stay in. I'm happy to help her, but sometimes it's hard to know how, kwim?

 

 

Force-feeding them facts they don't care about, presented in a format that is not very appealing or intuitive for them, is truly pointless because it will just go in one ear and out the other...once it's added to that "web" of information in his head, he starts making all kind of connections to other things in the web.

 

And there's my problem. It's illogical to me to force her to go through motions on something that literally isn't going to stick. And it isn't going to stick, because I can SEE it not filing. So it's not even merely a matter of saying get them interested. I'd be happy to teach her something she was disinterested in IF I SAW IT STICKING. But to do that, spend 6 hours a week on it, and have her later go "Huh?" is an exercise in futility. I'm trying to raise a human, not some hamster running on a ball. I honestly think more would stick if I had her watch David Attenbourough videos. At least then I'd be taking less of her time and have some long-term retention. I don't see the point of the hamster thing, no matter what anyone here says. (hamster=go through the motions, irrespective of whether it's getting you anywhere)

 

They can still cover the same basic information as other kids, they just absorb and process it in a different way.

 

 

Ok, that last point was the rub, and the whole reason I posted here. I wanted some serious, long-term advice from people who had btdt. I'm not sure, by changing up, I'm making an *equivalent* change, and that bothers me. Or rather, it concerns me, because I know when I made that leap to AP level classes *without* the appropriate background, that was a pretty gulping big leap. I *don't* want to shut doors for her. I *do* want her to feel confident even in areas that are outside her first interests. I just don't want to do the hamster thing.

 

I've had some people suggest I merely have her read an easy text and move on. And now, I'm seeing why that bugs me. I don't want her to have a whole "science is not my thing, can't do it" aspect to her personality. I WANT that balance for her and a way to help her interact with the material in a way that will stick.

 

You know, even just trying to approach it from *feeling* rather than logical details would be an interesting shift. Trying to think how I would do that. There has to be a way, since science is inherently real, touchable, and filled with narratives.

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And there's my problem. It's illogical to me to force her to go through motions on something that literally isn't going to stick. And it isn't going to stick, because I can SEE it not filing. So it's not even merely a matter of saying get them interested. I'd be happy to teach her something she was disinterested in IF I SAW IT STICKING. But to do that, spend 6 hours a week on it, and have her later go "Huh?" is an exercise in futility. I'm trying to raise a human, not some hamster running on a ball. I honestly think more would stick if I had her watch David Attenbourough videos. At least then I'd be taking less of her time and have some long-term retention. I don't see the point of the hamster thing, no matter what anyone here says. (hamster=go through the motions, irrespective of whether it's getting you anywhere).

 

Amen.

 

That's what's bothering me, too.

 

It's not about doing the work. My son will do the work. He just doesn't get anything out of it, and I don't understand why that's supposed to be a virtue?

 

And the thing is that I can kind of relate. I love history, but not the kind you get in textbooks. For the life of me, I can't remember most dates or the names of wars. However, give me a historical novel or really well-written biography written like a story, and I remember all of the details.

 

My son took the CoGAT a couple of years ago. The results for his learning profile told us that the best way to present information for him is interactively and in the form of a story. It was a huge "duh" moment for me. But, even so, I'm still working on figuring out how to put that in practice.

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Some do not have passions. Some are almost indifferent to certain subjects until they find a spark--but this may not be at age 14 or 16.

 

Suppose your student says he has no interest in foreign language. Nope, none. Aha! You say. Jack Horner is one of the world's most successful paleontologists who never received a BS because he could not pass the foreign language requirement.

 

Ok, can I kindly ask how we jumped from talking about how to do things DIFFERENTLY to talking about not doing things AT ALL??? That's not what she said and certainly not what I said. And I think we're all smart enough to know that what works for Jackie or her pg ds might have disastrous results with another child.

 

High school education is not about force feeding facts--nor is classical education. I have missed this being advocated.

 

So my plea continues to go unheard. If I put the corn in front of her and she poops it out while running in circles, she's a hamster. Just because that corn helps some kids fly like ducks doesn't mean it's not turning my kid into a hamster. But when I say my kid could be a SWAN with the right food, they look at me and say "No, corn, only corn!"

 

I return regularly to the concept of technical exercises in the form of piano exercises, trigonometry identities, physics problems. These exercises are not always joyous but they build the connections in the web you discuss.

 

Honestly, my kid has a hard time with discussion. And she has a hard time with the piano either. I told you, she's different, lol. I suppose someone will come along and say I should have (done violence to her soul) and made her stick with the piano anyway, that another year and a half would have made it work. I let her stop, and now she, on her own, has found a simpler instrument she'd like to work on.

 

Again, it is the rare student who can observe Newton's Law of Cooling and comprehend what it means without playing with it for a bit. As a piano student, I had to work on developing muscle memory. Sorry, it was buckle down for me, but the results were seen in the ensuing months.

 

Those two things don't connect for me. You just said that some kids need a lot more doing, touching, feeling to learn. But then you said buckle down with that textbook until you get it. I know you didn't say that. But when people are saying buckle down, they're saying master the textbook through hardwork. No one calls playing around with mechanics and chem labs buckling down. And I'm asking why I can't have an approach that gives her more DOING, the very thing you said makes it click for people. I'm asking why reading about jellyfish has to be the only way to learn. That's not buckling down; that's stupidity. You buckle down when there are core skills or bits of knowledge, non-negotiables. But I don't see how the anatomy of a jellyfish is a non-negotiable. It's cool, totally cool. But that is better done experientially, letting stick mainly what sticks (save for a few characteristics that distinguish the phylum). The content that IS non-negotiable, well that's the stuff WTM assigns as memory work. I mean has NO ONE, in this whole discussion, pondered that NO WHERE in WTM does it says my kid is slacking if she does labs, labs, labs, and then just does a basic list of essential memory work? Does NO ONE want to remind me or the viewers that WTM doesn't even recommend textbooks for this??? Does everyone have to chew me up and spit me out like a slacker for saying my humanities student shouldn't need to spend 6 hours a week slogging through a textbook, when the WTM, for this age recommends *3* hours and for high school *4*??? Where is the justice in this??? I'm condemned by a crowd that secretly thinks the WTM is a bunch of cr*p for science! I mean isn't that what y'all are really saying? I come pleading for ideas and mercy, and the same people who would castigate me in one thread for not reading WTM enough won't come over and say it's GOOD ENOUGH just to do what the WTM says.

 

WTM says write. WTM says do labs and hands-on. WTM says memorize important non-negotiables so they have places to file the info. And then, for hs WTM science says to *shudder* add primary sources like autobiographies and historical works. Oh no, that might be cow-towing to let the kid read some history related the topic and call it science...

 

Sorry, I'm not normally an angry person. It was just bizarre to me, rereading those sections in WTM over the last couple nights, to realize I was getting held to a harsher standards on the boards than what WTM itself describes.

 

I never expected my Calculus students to see things in the same way. I was one of those annoying instructors who would do a problem two or three ways in the hope of connecting with students who thought differently about things.

 

Oh she understands quite well. Then it all just slides right out of her brain.

 

But I do think it is a potential disservice to our students not to prepare them for possibilities.

 

Totally agree. This concerns me a lot, because we *don't* know what twists and turns our kids will take in life. And even think of it more pragmatically: what is she going to do when she wants to homeschool her own kids and needs to do science? It's an issue that needs to be dealt with. But that's just me. I know people who've taken a different route (just read the textbook and move on, whatever) and that worked out for them. I thought about it and just can't get comfortable there. So I totally hear you on this.

 

 

This is starting to feel like the Wizard of Oz here, like I've brought my scarecrow to the great door and am knocking. Inside are purple horses and all kinds of other oddities, but they won't let my scarecrow have a brain. Well when my scarecrow gets a brain, she's going to be a really wise, really good one. :)

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Jane--

I'm sorry. I know your questions were addressed to Jackie, but they sparked some thoughts for me, too.

 

 

 

Don't apologize. Pour a cup of coffee and join the conversation, please!

 

 

For me, I suppose that if I had a student who had no real passion, who didn't seem interested in anything specific, I might feel a need to do things differently.

 

Of course, I'm also not sure I would be pushing for college for such a student, at least not right away.

 

In the case of a kid who didn't see a clear academic path, I'd just keep plugging away at the basics, exposing him or her to lots of things and hoping something would click. Still, I don't know, but I kind of doubt that a 14 year old who's been working on, say, Latin for a few years and hasn't learned much will suddenly discover a passion for a field of study that requires even more of the language. And I suspect that, even if that did happen, the student who had exposure to Latin earlier would have a leg up on studying it seriously even after taking a break. So, I can't quite see myself insisting he or she continue past a certain point.

 

 

Unfortunately I have met too many students who lacked a sufficient math background for what they wanted to do in college. This does not mean that they could not achieve their goals. It meant that they were at a disadvantage in certain classes; further, they often required remediation and thus would be in college for a longer period of time--something that neither they nor their parents could easier afford.

 

One advantage that homeschooling parents have, I believe, is the counselor hat. We see what colleges want to have on transcripts. We research what colleges list in their degree requirements. Thus it comes as no surprise to us when we see that degrees which a few decades ago did not require math or statistics, now require these courses.

 

The problem with math is that there are structures which are built upon. If one of your kids suddenly develops a passion for astronomy and wants to learn about the history of astronomy, that student will be walloped with some serious mathematics before delving very deeply. I do not have a Poker face even in this two dimensional space of a message board. I cringe sometimes when people dismiss math education as unimportant.

 

But isn't this true with foreign language and linguistic studies as well? One does not have to love diagramming sentences, but shouldn't one learn grammar within the context of one's native language in order to learn the grammar of a second or third language?

 

 

For me, certain things are non-negotiable. But deciding how, exactly, to study them is wide open.

 

 

 

I do not think you are alone even among those of us who use the term "rigorous" to self describe.

 

There have been a number of posts across a few of these similar threads in which parents have said they simply "make" their student do things, even if the student doesn't like it. There have been posts that suggest kids who do not respond to that approach are exhibiting character flaws and that failing to learn things in that kind of "get 'r done" way is a discipline issue.

 

I suspect Jackie was referring to those posts.

 

 

 

Another poster helped me understand a thread a month or so ago by explaining that there were references to a dispute that had occurred on the K-8 Curriculum Board. I do not usually read that board unless something catches my eye on the index page.

 

Further, I will admit that I do not remember every participant's history and previous posts.

 

Some of us appreciate context.

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Sorry, I'm not normally an angry person.

 

It was my intention to have a conversation. Not ruffle feathers which apparently I have. Hence I issue an apology to you, Elizabeth.

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The whole "the kid cannot concentrate, except when something interests her" argument does not fly for me, and has never flown when my girls were concerned (and I do have one that would be easily classified as an atypical learner) - obviously, if she can concentrate under some circumstances, what we need to work on is how to get herself into that mode even when things are not terribly interesting.

 

 

I'm completely sure this argument does not fly for you, and in the case of your own kids you surely know best. The thing is, what you believe is the best course of affairs for your daughters is precisely the wrong course to take with kids like those being described by a few of us.

 

When you've got one of these kids, it's really, really obvious that the issue is NOT simply being willing to learn and retain only when they are having fun. As Jackie has explained many times on these boards, these kids make connections differently, in a way that has been demonstrated in multiple scientific studies; and they must make the kinds of connections that make sense to them in order to learn; they must engage in a more comprehensive way than a neurotypical kid needs to do in order to retain.

 

Current brain research investigating everything from MRI imaging of memory formation to the emotional component of phonics and reading (also the object of MRI studies) to the genetic and biophysical factors of ADD and spectrum disorders -- all these studies clearly show that indeed, as Jackie says, as Elizabeth notes, and as my dd demonstrates, there are huge neurological and physiological differences in learning, mental filing systems, attention, and retention. What some of us are seeing in our children is precisely that enormous difference, which is NOT a learning disability, and which does exist whether or not parents of neurotypical kids can see it or understand it. A number of us have been following brain research studies for years in order to fully understand and best educate our kids. I've been going to lectures given by scientists at the MIND institute in Davis, for instance, as well as reading as many current books on neurological research as I can get my hands on. Dd has also participated in several studies at the University of California, beginning when she was an infant.

 

In other words, we're not just talking off the cuff here or giving our kids the easy way out. We're talking about something that current science is mapping out and beginning to explain.

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Those of us who advocate the "buckle down and do it" method in some circumstances...

 

Your use of "us" and "we" in this post is rather curious. Since *I* consider myself a very ardent advocate of doing what the student needs to and character formation, I assume you are attempting to speak for me too. That's only odd, since I've spent this whole thread saying that I'm hitting on something beyond what merely slogging through will take care of.

 

(I hope we are aware of the fact that we advocate it in some rather extreme circumstances of distaste for a particular non-negotiable area, rather than the standard modus operandi?)...

 

Oh really? See this whole thread was about a student for whom EVERY SINGLE DAY, every single interaction with the current method has been a "deal with it" slog. I do not exaggerate. Well that's not true, I am given to hyperbole. But I'm telling you the latter is the case. This is not an isolated incident or a particular chapter. This is year after year, me finding it difficult to connect with a child who is so totally opposite of me on the Meyers-Briggs, on interests, gifts, learning styles, way of thinking, anything.

 

do not necessarily advocate doing so in one way alone.

 

Bingo, I wanted to hear stories from people who approach things differently.

 

or am I missing something?

 

Uh yeah actually, I think you are. There's a whole segment of people with different learners who post on the boards differently. You'll notice them because they're the ones with blood dripping in their sigs and sweat around their avatars, the ones who are really quiet and humble because they know the smart mom somehow can't pour things into their kids' brain just by trying and that it's no reflection on the mom or how hard she's trying. And for these kids, merely trying harder or more emphatically doesn't work. We have to work smarter.

 

The whole "the kid cannot concentrate, except when something interests her" argument does not fly for me, and has never flown when my girls were concerned (and I do have one that would be easily classified as an atypical learner) - obviously, if she can concentrate under some circumstances, what we need to work on is how to get herself into that mode even when things are not terribly interesting. That may involve a somewhat different method which suits her better, or it may just involve developing self-discipline.

 

Very interesting! I love hearing about how others' alternative learners do things. That doesn't mean that it will extrapolate to how MY dd learns or Jackie's, but that's really interesting. Unfortunately, all kids have their own neurological level of self-regulation, which, being built-in, is rather a hard wall to hit on. Well can nudge it with therapy and nurturing, but some kids have more of a wall than others. I might know my situation, but I sure don't expect to understand someone else's and will make a lot of leeway there.

 

 

It may not, in our house, involve a restructuring of the content in that way that it takes away from the core (adding? no problem, but not at the expense of the core knowledge - unless there are genuine cognitive issues, of course) or skipping the area altogether because the kid is not thrilled about it.

 

Bingo. That's the reason I posted the thread, because I wanted new ways to approach these courses without one, requiring more time than is appropriate, and two without sacrificing reasonable, expected content.

 

And there is the crux: are we talking here, in Elizabeth's daughter's case, about a fairly extreme "redesign" of a traditional science course into... a history course, rather than a science course, or something in-between... or we are talking about adding the historical component, using history as a sort of spine where applicable, organizing the same content differently - but still covering the same content that would have been covered otherwise?

 

You've asked a very good question. I wanted to hear what OTHERS have done in this situation and how THEY chose to answer that, and I will ponder those stories and decide for ourselves. I have no interest in putting my plans up for the scrutiny of others. Anything I decide will be fine, because I am an informed, intelligent person who has been to college, grad school, and worked in admissions at a university. I have no doubt about my ability to guide her in a way that will be adequate for her needs later. Whether I'm self-deluded remains to be seen, lol. I came here asking for stories of what others have done, and frankly I'm happy to listen to ALL kinds of stories. I'll filter out and decide what works for us.

 

The reason, stripe, why I suggested, maybe, just letting the kid "peacefully hate that area" and just do traditionally, with minimal time, perhaps not even pursuing the highest grades possible (you know, remaining on the level of knowing and understanding, rather than synthesis, original work, etc.... doing a C-level work rather than an A-level work), is because the amount of involvement in such a class is significantly lower, if we talk from a perspective in which nothing is taken away, only organized differently and added - the whole adding thing is actually something one typically does with interested kids, because it is so much more time consuming, consuming that energy which, maybe, kids would prefer to spend on the areas of genuine interest to them, rather than a sort of "fabricated" interest in this way. I am not saying that one is better than the other, personally I think there is a time and a place for each of those approaches, depending on the kid in question, but it is a possible choice which also saves nerves and energy.

 

Well that is sort of gobbleygook, but I think you just said I could chose to do the book anyway, have her be a C student, and get over it. You're speaking from EXPERIENCE or theory?? Would you really want that for YOUR kid?? Did YOU chose to do that with your alternative learner?? You really think I would chose to have her do a text WITHOUT learning the basic skills, WITHOUT learning anything, just to say we did it??? With a dc of this IQ??? I mean COME ON. I don't have a stupid child or vanilla or plain or anything else. She's just different. She *can* do the work. It's just that the amount of time and mental energy it requires is disproportionate and physically wearying.

 

I know about the "sponge" and "sieve" effects in kids, but personally, I would go as far to claim that most people function that way, that it is not something reserved for the atypical or gifted kids (not that anyone claimed so, but I am just pointing to that).

 

Interesting point. I'll have to chew on that. I will say that the forgetting of some people still involves pegs or it coming back to them when they see it again. There definitely are degrees on this. For instance, we did latin vocab three years in a row, with drill, workbooks, flashcards, games, classes, you name it, and three years later she still couldn't remember the words. Sometimes things really aren't sticking, and maybe you have to live it to fathom it. Or to fathom the discontinuity between that and what happens when you get something that DOES connect with their brain.

 

What is really, really important in my view, as a part of education, is the development of work ethic and growing out of being "controlled" by one's impulses to turn into a sieve when one is not interested in something. It is not some kind of fixed nature, for most kids, but a mix of natural inclination and learned behavior - one can attain, in most cases, the minimum of self-discipline needed to successfully finish even unpleasant tasks and, in fact, we are talking about one of the crucial character traits to develop before one enters adulthood.

 

Oh, I forgot, only people whose kids master textbooks have a market on character. No one else cares about it, certainly not people who do things out of the box. We never make our kids pick up their rooms or eat their brocolli when they don't want to or do something just because we said to. No, we are a whole segment of people who eschew character in favor of a whim-driven, flighty life of self-indulgence. LOL

 

Which goes back to my first reply in this thread: if we are talking about normal, average and brighter, cognitively capable children without unique LDs (or with LDs which can be accomodated rather easily), I treat this as a character issue more than anything else.

 

Wow, here I thought I has asked for stories from other moms about how they had helped their kids. Didn't know I was going to get a complete neuropsych eval, treatment, and educational recs.

 

...her post reminded me why I consistently have an issue with, what seems to me...

 

Again, I didn't know anyone came to the boards wanting to hear someone's theory on how others should do things. I thought we came here wanting to hear stories about how we are doing things with our kids. That's fine that your theory fits your kids. I even agree with the basic starting points. It's just that with different kids there are lots of ways to put those principles into action. And I have enough imagination to think through my situation and see 4 different, EQUALLY VALID ways I could handle this. And even more imagination and grace to allow someone else to chose differently.

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It was my intention to have a conversation. Not ruffle feathers which apparently I have. Hence I issue an apology to you, Elizabeth.

 

Oh, I was just being too harsh. It's just my own struggle, something I have to sort out. I want the ease of a textbook. I want the answer to be work harder, show your character, just do it. And it doesn't seem to be working. It's not whether or not she can pass the test or learn it for a while, because she can. It's the bigger issue of how it's interacting with her as a person, and I was hoping for stories that would show me ways others have dealt with this. I've really appreciated the responses, all of them. Until my discussion with you, I didn't realize how much I was wanting to change this from hamster to swan by changing the food. Now I know. For that I thank you. :)

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I have portofolios from the last several years showing all of the things he studied and the grades he earned (good ones). I can pull out and show you neatly finished pages of math and Spanish and Latin . . . But he didn't learn much.

 

My daughter finished her degree last month. She was considered a model student in her program, got good grades and was well liked by her professors. But she is very conflicted about the experience and doesn't feel she learned much.

 

What concerns me, and what is prompting my own examination of our approach, is not that my son "can't" follow the rules and fill out the worksheet. It's that I mourn the wasted energy and lost time that going through the motions requires. We've proven the point. He'll do it if we make him. But why should he? What's the point?

 

 

Oh Jenny, we're speaking the same language! That's so what we live. I don't want to let it devolve into a lack of structure, but it does have to change. And that gets harder as they get older. And we sweat and gulp some more.

 

Really, I don't think WTM has to mean what people here are making it out to mean. I just don't see where it says YOUR KID HAS TO READ THE TEXT THEY HATE AND DO IT OR ELSE. I mean I just can't see it there, not in WTM. So I think at this point I'm going to stick my nose in WTM, fiddle with something that relatively resembles it in time and output requirements, and tell people to jump.

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First, you give anecdotal information that a minimal transcript from high school does not really matter. I understand that you were hungry for knowledge and hence most likely sold yourself to a college admissions officer. My concern is that not all adolescents are so self confident that they can project who and what they are in an interview.

Goodness, I certainly wasn't advocating that approach for "all adolescents"! I only raised that point as an illustration of my own background, which I was comparing to Jenny's. Even though I'm very much a logical/linear learner and was capable of taking hard courses and getting As, quite easily, if I cared about the coursework (which is exactly what I did in college), I found HS — including my honors classes — tedious and I found most of the work pointless. I did test well, though, and ended up with a full ride National Merit scholarship to an excellent LAC, where I finally got the education I craved. No more busy work, no more "going through the motions" to check a box. And actually, if my son was the type who tested well, I'd probably be taking an even more relaxed approach with him. But since he doesn't test well, he'll have a much more standard looking transcript: at least 4 English, math, history, and Greek credits, and probably 6-8 science credits.

 

Suppose your student says he has no interest in foreign language. Nope, none. Aha! You say. Jack Horner is one of the world's most successful paleontologists who never received a BS because he could not pass the foreign language requirement. I ask (very humbly) how does a parent know that her child is the next Jack Horner? How does a homeschooling parent who frets over the small stuff develop the confidence to know that her child will be recognized for his abilities?

 

I'm not sure why people keep equating studying subjects in a non-textbook way with not studying them at all. :confused: I originally chose Spanish for my son, as I'd read that it was one of the easiest languages for dyslexics. He went through the motions, did the lessons, filled in the worksheets... and retained nothing. He chose Greek instead, even though it's much more difficult and not something I would have ever tried to push him into. But because he's intensely interested in it, and he has a goal that is meaningful to him — to read Homer and Herodotus in Greek — instead of just checking a box on a college application, he's doing amazingly well with it. He's started Athenaze, he practices his flashcards every day, and he loves the translations even though they sometimes bring him to the verge of tears. He pushes himself much harder than I ever would — because he cares.

 

I return regularly to the concept of technical exercises in the form of piano exercises, trigonometry identities, physics problems. These exercises are not always joyous but they build the connections in the web you discuss. Again, it is the rare student who can observe Newton's Law of Cooling and comprehend what it means without playing with it for a bit. As a piano student, I had to work on developing muscle memory. Sorry, it was buckle down for me, but the results were seen in the ensuing months.

 

I'm all for "playing" with ideas — that's very much how DS learns. As for "joyous" — again, I'm not sure why people keep equating "meaningful" with "fun." Attic Greek is not really "fun" for a dyslexic — it's really hard work. But for DS, it's meaningful, and that makes all the difference.

 

Every time there's a thread on interest-led learning, people post that that students can't just do the fun fluffy stuff, they have to do hard work, too. And those of us who take a more interest-led approach keep repeating that our kids do work hard, they do push themselves. This is just the way they learn.

 

You used the word "indulgent". I am not using this word.

You didn't use the word "indulgent," but others have — along with words like "catering" and "coddling."

 

But I do think it is a potential disservice to our students not to prepare them for possibilities.

I agree. I also think it's a disservice to deprive my child of the rigorous, thorough education he deserves by restricting him to pedagogical methods that do not work with him just because they do work with someone else's kids. My son will have a very firm "foundation" for college — much deeper and firmer than any of the the students I know IRL around here. He plans on pursuing a PhD in paleontology and already digs and works with graduate students and professors. I expect that he will have completed Calc I & II, Gen Chem I & II, and Gen Phys I & II by the time he graduates HS, along with 4 years of Greek, 4 years of English, 4 years of history, and several philosophy classes, many of which will be tailored to his interests andall of which will prepare him extremely well for college.

 

Why anyone would have a problem with this, I truly do not understand. :confused:

 

Jackie

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My son took the CoGAT a couple of years ago. The results for his learning profile told us that the best way to present information for him is interactively and in the form of a story. It was a huge "duh" moment for me. But, even so, I'm still working on figuring out how to put that in practice.

 

I had just been thinking I might pursue the CoGAT with her. I didn't know it would give that kind of feedback. That's probably about what it would say for my dd too, lol. She can tell you all about, well basically ALL the hands-on we've ever done. And she's insane for historical fiction, narratives, etc., to the point where my Great Goal for this coming year is just to engage her in non-fiction, to help her see the narrative of well-written non-fiction.

 

That's the other crummy thing. Many of these textbooks are NOT well-written. These extremely bright kids see right through it. She sits there correcting inconsistencies in the science textbook's explanation. What's up with that??? So is it really that my dc *can't* understand a science text (without slavish amounts of effort) or is it that I need to get into something with better writing that can be understood by someone who tests as having 30+ reading comprehension?? I mean something is wrong there, a total disconnect. I've been trying to track down these threads here and there where people mention better, well-written textbooks, and I'm trying to get a hold of them. Sometimes you find these gems, people at an upper level who really know their stuff who also happen to be amazing writers. She'll stretch to engage with something more challenging if it's well-written. The dirty secret is that a lot of these high school textbooks are, well I can't even think of a nice word so I'll stop. They're cod liver oil.

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The problem with math is that there are structures which are built upon. If one of your kids suddenly develops a passion for astronomy and wants to learn about the history of astronomy, that student will be walloped with some serious mathematics before delving very deeply. I do not have a Poker face even in this two dimensional space of a message board. I cringe sometimes when people dismiss math education as unimportant.

 

Not unimportant at all. But I'm dealing with a kid who, though seventh grade by age has already gotten through high school algebra and geometry. It's not like math is neglected or like we'll stop doing it. We're just going off the path a little.

 

But isn't this true with foreign language and linguistic studies as well? One does not have to love diagramming sentences, but shouldn't one learn grammar within the context of one's native language in order to learn the grammar of a second or third language?

 

Or you have people like me who spoke and wrote very well from an early age but who didn't learn grammar systematically until we studied the second language. I didn't even begin to understand some basic grammar concepts until I started Spanish in high school. And what I didn't learn there I figured out when I got my first job as an editor and had to justify to authors why I was changing their words. (I kept a grammar text on my desk and looked up things as I went.)

 

Quite apart from that, though, I'm wondering who said they weren't teaching grammar? We do. We just teach it in context as the kids write.

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Don't apologize. Pour a cup of coffee and join the conversation, please!

 

 

 

Unfortunately I have met too many students who lacked a sufficient math background for what they wanted to do in college...One advantage that homeschooling parents have, I believe, is the counselor hat...The problem with math is that there are structures which are built upon. If one of your kids suddenly develops a passion for astronomy and wants to learn about the history of astronomy, that student will be walloped with some serious mathematics before delving very deeply. I do not have a Poker face even in this two dimensional space of a message board. I cringe sometimes when people dismiss math education as unimportant.

 

But isn't this true with foreign language and linguistic studies as well?

 

A friend keeps asking me why I struggle with this, why I don't just make some radical paradigm shift. That's precisely why, because I fear the consequences of closing doors and chosing poorly. But man, sometimes it's hard to know how to get where you want to be and still keep it sensible.

 

Some of us appreciate context.

 

Good point. I didn't give a full context because she doesn't have formal labels from a neuropsych and because I didn't want those considerations frankly in the answers. I haven't heard one case yet where the answers for kids with learning quirks were formulaic. So I'm content to hear other people's answers in general and then modify to fit my kid. Mercy, modify isn't even the right word, as I don't modify in the sense of altering fundamental standards. It just means I have to come alongside a bit more, sort her thinking out a bit more, make sure it's not jumbled in her mind more, and keep from wearing her out with things that are taking more energy to process than the average bear. But frankly, on that last issue I think I said that. I said in my initial post that science has been taking a disproportionate amount of time, and that, while our methods "work" (she can pass the tests with flying colors), they are taking so much time and creating such wear on her that I'd like to have some alternatives.

 

 

 

But I think you make a good point. It's really confusing with threads where all types of learners are represented. Personally, I don't like the bias it creates to put labels on my kid. We can say it shouldn't, but it *would* with some people. So there are quite a few people on this board with kids JUST LIKE MINE who aren't using labels. I recognize them instantly.

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.. these kids make connections differently, in a way that has been demonstrated in multiple scientific studies; and they must make the kinds of connections that make sense to them in order to learn; they must engage in a more comprehensive way than a neurotypical kid needs to do in order to retain.

 

 

Karen, after years of your unremitting effort, I think I finally get it. I think I just didn't have the background to understand it before.

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My kids work willingly at things they love, even when the work itself isn't fun. ...My son, although not in the same place in terms of maturity or commitment, is similar. When he cares deeply about something, he pushes himself harder than I would push him.
What concerns me, and what is prompting my own examination of our approach, is not that my son "can't" follow the rules and fill out the worksheet. It's that I mourn the wasted energy and lost time that going through the motions requires. We've proven the point. He'll do it if we make him. But why should he? What's the point?
Really, I don't think WTM has to mean what people here are making it out to mean. I just don't see where it says YOUR KID HAS TO READ THE TEXT THEY HATE AND DO IT OR ELSE. I mean I just can't see it there, not in WTM. So I think at this point I'm going to stick my nose in WTM, fiddle with something that relatively resembles it in time and output requirements, and tell people to jump.

:iagree:

It's not about letting them "get off easy" or just skip any subjects they don't like — it's about helping them access those subjects in ways that work for them. And most of the time that actually results in them going deeper and pushing themselves harder than we, as parents, would have dared. And I have to say that this approach is not just something we "have" to do because our kids are somehow cognitively "disabled" (or are too stubborn or rebellious to do what they're told) — the refusal to do things that we find boring and meaningless, just because someone else said so, is very characteristic of gifted kids (and adults) as well.

 

Jackie

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I had just been thinking I might pursue the CoGAT with her. I didn't know it would give that kind of feedback. That's probably about what it would say for my dd too, lol.

 

I was surprised, honestly, at how helpful the feedback and suggestions were from that test. It also helped me see that the kid whom I always assumed was my "math and science guy" was actually most gifted in language.

 

That's the other crummy thing. Many of these textbooks are NOT well-written. These extremely bright kids see right through it. She sits there correcting inconsistencies in the science textbook's explanation.

 

Yep. And mine "love" to correct the grammar and syntax, too.

 

It does seem like we have a choice in textbooks between colorful, "accessible" fluff and boring, dry "content." Every now and then, we'll stumble across a text that is really great, and it's always such a gift.

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As I've been reading Ester Maria's posts on this topic, I can't help thinking back to the long discusison about punctuality. I promise I'm not attempting a "gotcha," but I do wonder, Ester Maria, if you can help me understand what seems to me to be an inconsistency? As I recall, your position in the other thread was that being chronically late was simply a character trait, evidence that the late person has other values or another agenda. I'd like to wrap my brain around why this is different?

Because I can have that character trait. LOL. :tongue_smilie:

No, really: because I am an adult, who can organize her life as she wishes, who can dictate under which circumstances she works, and who can allow herself a certain freedom, knowing what are the potential consequences. And is it not that I am incapable of being on time, if something matters and is not flexible (flights, for example), I am just willingly lenient with myself in this aspect of life, simply because I can be somewhat loose and I choose to be. If I did not have that privilege of sipping my coffee knowing I will be ten minutes late and it will be fine, then yes, I would have to rearrange my priorities and reset myself.

 

Kids have the same freedom when it comes to school subjects, with one major difference: they have to satisfy some minimum requirements, or they cannot proceed within the school system (they cannot fail Latin I and continue onto Latin II, and much of school - in some cases ALL of school - is accumulative in nature). However, if they decide that a 4.0 GPA (or an equivalent in another school system) is not a priority for them, as long as they are not failing, it really is alright. Their priorities are between them and their parents at that stage, they are not fully independent yet, but yes, why not, they indeed do have a freedom to set their priorities differently, though ideally with parental agreement. With all the baggage that comes with it - in terms of limited further options and so forth. There are many kids for whom school is simply not number one priority, for a plethora of reasons, or who choose to skip on some things or cut themselves some slack on some things - some of which I would accept, some of which I would not, but it is those kids' and those parents' choice. If they are willing to put up with practical implications of choosing not to do something, I have no issues with it - I will still most likely disagree with it, but my disagreement is an emotionally distanced one, as I am not a factor in it, it is their life and choices.

I'm completely sure this argument does not fly for you, and in the case of your own kids you surely know best. The thing is, what you believe is the best course of affairs for your daughters is precisely the wrong course to take with kids like those being described by a few of us.

I am aware of that possibility - but that is something only Elizabeth can estimate, as we do not have an insight into the *specifics* of her situation. These discussions, even when they are supposedly specific, are still rather general in nature, so each of us will end up speaking from her experience. I wanted to point out to a possibility of a different approach, and a possibility that there might be a fundamental discipline issue. Elizabeth says it is not the case. Fine, I trust her ability to estimate things for her situation, I am here merely pointing to possibilities - and the ones I come up with are of course are biased based on my experiences.

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the refusal to do things that we find boring and meaningless, just because someone else said so, is very characteristic of gifted kids (and adults) as well.

That is one of the ways in which they can react, yes.

 

Another possible way in which such kids may react is the "Is it in my interest to do this, and to do it how well?" type of calculating, which is basically an adult version of deferred gratification. Many gifted children, and adults, are terrific 'manipulators' when it comes to these issues and learn how to game the systems within which they operate, to turn them to their advantage. Quite often directing the kids' energy, if possible, from apathy to this approach, also helps with some things.

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Or you have people like me who spoke and wrote very well from an early age but who didn't learn grammar systematically until we studied the second language. I didn't even begin to understand some basic grammar concepts until I started Spanish in high school. And what I didn't learn there I figured out when I got my first job as an editor and had to justify to authors why I was changing their words. (I kept a grammar text on my desk and looked up things as I went.)

I never studied formal grammar until I started homeschooling, and I also had a career as a writer and editor. :001_smile:

 

Quite apart from that, though, I'm wondering who said they weren't teaching grammar? We do. We just teach it in context as the kids write.

:iagree:

Drilling facts out of context doesn't work for DS. He's taking an intensive grammar course this summer with Regan Barr at Lukeion in preparation for starting their Greek class this fall. Regan is really funny and manages to make his courses really engaging, despite the "brutal" (his word) schedule of the intensive summer course. DS has gotten in the high-90s on every quiz and homework assignment, and remembers everything he's learning, because it's presented in a really memorable and interesting way (the course is called The Barbarian Diagrammarian, lol).

 

Jackie

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A friend keeps asking me why I struggle with this, why I don't just make some radical paradigm shift. That's precisely why, because I fear the consequences of closing doors and chosing poorly. But man, sometimes it's hard to know how to get where you want to be and still keep it sensible.

Keep in mind that what may seem like a "radical paradigm shift" to people who follow TWTM, may seem far less radical to people who start from a different place. When I started homeschooling, I joined and read many many homeschooling lists, including several gifted lists. One thing that stands out for me is that parents on the gifted lists don't seem to have remotely the same level of angst about what's "rigorous" enough, or whether their kids' transcripts will look "normal" enough, or if they're stepping too far out of the box in educating their kids. They're much more comfortable following their kids' lead and letting them pursue their passions, and I haven't seen anyone posting that they regret not having done more grammar drill or not having used a history textbook instead of letting their DC read voraciously on topics that interested them. And I see kids there getting into top colleges with no problem, including the 2E kids.

 

I'm not saying that that approach will work for every kid, or that every unschooled 16 yo will get accepted to Vassar with no "transcript" and no SAT scores, like David Albert's daughter did, but the point is that some kids do. Not having a transcript that looks like a PS-transcript-but-harder does not mean your kid will never get into college. Having gaps here and there is not the end of the world — everyone has gaps, they just have them in different places. It's very easy to get the idea, if this is the only board a parent reads, that unless kids follow WTM to the letter, they're doomed. And that's just not true.

 

Jackie

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I never studied formal grammar until I started homeschooling, and I also had a career as a writer and editor. :001_smile:

 

I never studied formal grammar either until I hit grad school, when I got interested in poetics and syntax; and I also had, and have, a career that mixes academic and popular writing.

 

Dd studies grammar in two ways she has devised on her own. First, she keeps a book of favorite literary quotations (at her request, I keep my own, so we can compare what we like), and we have frequent discussions about characteristics of the sentences she tends to like vs. the ones I pick out from some of the same books. This encompasses both grammar and stylistics. Second, she is completely fascinated by books, websites, and other places that showcase incredible errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. She has learned an amazing amount of grammar through her keen interest in mistakes: not canned mistakes for kids to edit, but errors that happen in the real world, sometimes at quite high levels (we read the "acknowledgment of grammatical errors" column in the New York Times); and she's interested not only in what kinds of errors are made but why -- what misconceptions do people have that produces these errors?

 

Last night she was reminiscing about a problem question in her chemistry textbook that asked what would happen if an object were to be hit with a hypothetical hammer. My child had ALL KINDS of fun with that one.

 

She became interested at one point in Star Trek's "to boldly go," and the split infinitive. We spent a good deal of time noticing split infinitives in Shakespeare after that, read chapters from books like The Glamour of Grammar and David Crystal's books on the cultural history of grammar rules in English.

 

None of this is conventional, formal grammar. But she has learned far more in this fashion, because it makes sense to her and engages her powerful interest, than she would have through all the grammar workbooks in the world. She's looked at a few of those and said, puzzled, that she finds herself more confused about how to write after reading them than she was before.

 

She also learns grammar more formally through Latin. Like Jackie's child, mine chose to study this language for her own reasons: she wants to be able to read the Latin quotations she finds in many of the classic novels and in a surprising number of fantasy and science fiction books she reads. Because she has her own motivation -- she is engaged because she has a purpose -- she is willing to work regularly and hard; again, like Jackie's son, she is willing to work harder than I would likely ask her to.

 

So what makes sense for THIS child (who, by the way, has always been a naturally grammatically correct writer) as a way to achieve the ultimate end of thorough knowledge about how her language works? Would sitting her in front of formal grammar workbooks and insisting that it's a character issue and she must learn to work in this way really be to her best educational interests? Would it be in her best interests as a learner and even more, as a person, to dismiss her own discovery of a way to approach a discipline?

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So what makes sense for THIS child..? Would sitting her in front of formal grammar workbooks and insisting that it's a character issue and she must learn to work in this way really be to her best educational interests? Would it be in her best interests as a learner and even more, as a person, to dismiss her own discovery of a way to approach a discipline?

What you, and I, and Jenny, and Elizabeth, and others are talking about is covering the same subjects, and much of the same material, just via a different route. In many ways, finding a more effective means of accessing the information actually allows our kids to go far deeper, make more connections, and retain the information far better, than if they used standard curriculum.

 

Why does that bother people so much??? :confused:

 

Jackie

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Many gifted children, and adults, are terrific 'manipulators' when it comes to these issues and learn how to game the systems within which they operate, to turn them to their advantage.

 

You know, I think that's the hardest part of this, that there are BOTH sides of the character. In my dd, while there is obviously a willingness to do as little as I hold her accountable to, there's also a lot of perception about what is or is not working, how things ought to be, what strikes her as right or wrong or going against her natural self, etc. Just like I can't buy that she's all *good* and going to chose well all the time, I can't buy that her assessments are all *bad*.

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What you, and I, and Jenny, and Elizabeth, and others are talking about is covering the same subjects, and much of the same material, just via a different route. In many ways, finding a more effective means of accessing the information actually allows our kids to go far deeper, make more connections, and retain the information far better, than if they used standard curriculum.

 

Why does that bother people so much??? :confused:

 

 

I wondered the same thing. It's not making a batch of cookies one day and then claiming your kids 'get fractions.'

 

I almost feel the world has become so artificial and constructed that it's now suspicious to use real books and explore the actual world instead of using a workbook or other processed item.

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Why does that bother people so much??? :confused:

 

Jackie

 

It does not bother me. I was trying to have a conversation. It is how I learn things.

 

Sorry to have entered the fray.

 

Jane

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What you, and I, and Jenny, and Elizabeth, and others are talking about is covering the same subjects, and much of the same material, just via a different route. In many ways, finding a more effective means of accessing the information actually allows our kids to go far deeper, make more connections, and retain the information far better, than if they used standard curriculum.

 

Why does that bother people so much??? :confused:

 

Jackie

 

I think I upset many people who believe that there is a specific content which MUST be covered, in all aspects, in a formal, systematic way, in high school. Although dd ends up "covering" much of the content of a conventional course of study in unconventional ways, she doesn't cover it all; nor do I consider that as crucial.

 

Rather than thinking of there being a single, fixed canon of classic works, for instance, I see several canonical variations, ALL of which are legitimate in academic circles in terms of published, peer-reviewed academic articles, selections changing in the Norton Anthology, the understanding of politics and chance which are factors in what is considered canonical at any particular historical moment. I don't therefore have a list of specific books that must perforce be read and studied by dd in this specific four-year period, although because of her literary leanings she may well end up reading nearly all of them. She will also read a lot of texts that most kids don't read, many of which have just as much cultural resonance as those usually held up as THE great books. She'll interact with those books in different ways from the standard high school essay-writing emphasis; although she'll write essays, they're already longer but less frequent than is typical. And they're not all she writes, or all I consider important -- for HER.

 

I view science in much the same way. Dh is a professor of marine chemistry and we have had protracted discussions with his colleagues over the years about what constitutes an ideal science education before college. There are some areas about which all agree: the need for a strong mathematical background, developing good observation skills, understanding precision in measurements and why that matters, etc. Most (but not all) of them argue for far more extensive lab experience than they see kids getting in high school.

 

They vary far more on the need for coverage of particular topics in different fields within science, just as literature professors vary on what they consider to be foundational, must-read works.

 

I think this is profoundly disturbing to many people, especially those who learn in a parts-to-whole, sequential, incremental manner (that is, learning must take place in a way that resembles climbing a ladder; you cannot learn about something and understand it if you have not mastered completely those rungs which come before and below it) and/or those who view education's goal as the transmission of a particular set of cultural texts or a specific body of information. They tend to see what dd does as chaotic, disorderly, disjointed. What they don't understand is that she is able to fit the pieces into a whole in a way that makes far more sense to her than a pre-organized, incremental curriculum: she constructs a web, an interconnected and multi-faceted network of relationships among facts, ideas, skills, and systems that Jackie talks about.

 

I don't doubt that a classical education that sticks more closely to the WTM model, or a more traditional program using high school and/or college textbooks and workbooks, is a wonderful and appropriate way for many kids to learn. I also don't doubt that there are many varied options out there which also provide individual kids with wonderful educations. This in itself seems as though it should not be threatening in the least to others who are sure that their own choices work for them; but I can see that my underlying working assumptions and beliefs are indeed very disturbing to some people and especially I see that although I try to explain how we go about things, it's hard for someone invested in a very different set of beliefs about what education is to understand how informal and/or interest-based learning really works -- especially in the rhetoric stage.

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It does not bother me. I was trying to have a conversation. It is how I learn things.

Sorry to have entered the fray.

My question wasn't directed at you, Jane, I'm happy to have this conversation — honestly! I'm just truly puzzled why every thread where people discuss alternative routes to a rigorous education ends up with comments implying that "interest-led" = easy/fun, and that if a child's education is tailored to his or her interests, then entire subjects will be left out. I don't know of anyone on this board who has ever advocated letting kids just do whatever they want, with no requirements, and no need to ever work hard, so I'm confused as to why these things keep coming up over and over.

 

... especially those who learn in a parts-to-whole, sequential, incremental manner (that is, learning must take place in a way that resembles climbing a ladder; you cannot learn about something and understand it if you have not mastered completely those rungs which come before and below it)

I think you hit on something really important here. For people who experience learning as a gradual, sequential building up of knowledge, like constructing the foundation of a building one course of bricks at a time, it may look to them as if our kids will get to college and suddenly realize that they're missing that crucial foundation, because they didn't build up those layers one by one, adding a bit more complexity each year in each course.

 

I think what people aren't getting is that some kids really, truly do. not. learn. that way. For some kids, it's far more effective to just wait until they're ready to read blueprints, and then just show them how the whole thing fits together. Instead of years and years of piecing together the big picture, you get one big "aha!" And sometimes you just need to give them a big pile of bricks and let them figure out how to build it themselves. For whole-to-part learners, without understanding the big picture first — or at least having a strong internal drive to find the big picture — it doesn't matter how many times you show them how to build one little piece of it, because it just won't stick.

 

But I can see how, to someone who doesn't learn that way and who doesn't know anyone who was successfully educated that way, that could seem like a really dangerous approach. So I understand that some of the concern may be genuine concern that these kids will not get the education they need, and not just "you're not doing it my way, therefore you're doing it wrong." But I would hope that people would keep an open mind and recognize that there really are other ways of thinking and learning and that what may look dangerously unsystematic to a linear/logical/parts-to-whole person may be not only perfectly sensible to someone who thinks differently, but it may be a far more effective and appropriate way of learning.

 

Jackie

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I think you hit on something really important here. For people who experience learning as a gradual, sequential building up of knowledge, like constructing the foundation of a building one course of bricks at a time, it may look to them as if our kids will get to college and suddenly realize that they're missing that crucial foundation, because they didn't build up those layers one by one, adding a bit more complexity each year in each course.

 

 

One thing that strikes me as I read over the criticisms both you and I seem to attract magnetically is that the classical curriculum, like many other incremental, sequential programs, is designed by, satisfies, and rewards those who think and learn in a particular way. I have come to realize through my interest in brain studies and my experience with my daughter that this type of thinker is, in a way, just as far off to one end of the spectrum of various ways that minds sort, classify, store, retrieve, and make sense of information as our kids are off to another.

 

That's why I think that the Temple Grandin book and The Geography of Thought that I mentioned earlier are so important; they show us the assumptions about thinking, about identity, about education, that underlie our conceptions about thought itself and ask us to examine, not biases or prejudices exactly, but what assumptions are so closely interwoven with the way we come to think as a culture about learning and education that we can't see them until we step away and look at them from a radically different point of view. For some of us, that different point of view has been given to us through our children.

 

And we've had through them PRECISELY the type of high-level, rigorous, world-view-altering experience that the MCT quote on the "definition of rigor" thread opens with. Once your world-view is altered in that fashion, you simply see the world (in this case, the world of the mind) differently, and there's no going back.

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