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I am very much enjoying the experiential and philosophical discussion on the current state of education in the other thread.

 

I would love to start this new thread to discuss practical application.

 

Please share strategies and/or examples of how you support and require excellence in your homeschool.

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I would love to know.

 

And I would like to point out a section in Noel Streatfeild's Circus Shoes where Peter thinks he is so fantastic because he's been tutored (by very inadequate tutors) and finally realized the kids who go to school know vastly re than he does.

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Honestly, I think putting a LOT more effort into skills is vital. Writing is a BIG one that hurts people when they get to college. If you can get your children proficient and comfortable with writing essays, research papers, etc... before they get to college it will be so much better for them.

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I am very much enjoying the experiential and philosophical discussion on the current state of education in the other thread.

 

I would love to start this new thread to discuss practical application.

 

Please share strategies and/or examples of how you support and require excellence in your homeschool.

 

One thing that I'm working on right now is forcing my kids to realize that they have deadlines and timelines. And that their job isn't to sit passively and receive knowledge but to make the effort to master it. Even if that means they have to redo a chapter in math, rewrite their German homework or reread a science chapter.

 

I have been seeking out outside tests from the AMC 8 to mythology and Latin exams. The AMC 8 was an interesting experience, because they ended up in a room where they and one friend were the only outsiders. Everyone else was enrolled at the study center where they were testing. The study center was created to help students test into the local STEM magnet schools and draws from the local Indian community. So when we were standing around waiting, the center director was asking one son which magnet and private school entrance tests he was taking.

 

The Latin exams this year will be interesting, because the test is a step up and while we've improved our Latin studies, this will be a real gut check for them of how much they don't know. Latent knowledge from reading The Roman Mysteries a couple years ago is not going to cut it here.

 

Both of my kids are having the experience of being found wanting or at least having stiff competition. Rutabaga in swimming, where he is still quite slow for his group (but overjoyed to be out of the first and slowest heat). Cauliflower with the stress of waiting to find out if he was accepted to a living history volunteer program. He found out recently that there were 40 applications for 10 spots, so he's now stalking the mailman and considering what make his package stronger for next year if he doesn't make it in.

 

What is requiring more work for me is that I have to make sure that my expectations are laid out in real detail at the beginning of the week. And I need to make sure that if I set a deadline that I don't let it slide. That means not only making sure I collect and grade essays on time, but that I have an algebra test waiting for them on the date I set for testing. Which means I need to go through the chapter myself. And I can't put off Latin and then expect that they will be learning something.

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Please share strategies and/or examples of how you support and require excellence in your homeschool.

 

Our most important tool for excellence is to choose curriculum and level based on the children's abilities alone and to completely disregard any "typical" expectations for the age group, anything other people's kids do, anything that is done in high schools.

So, if I think my DD is capable of taking a college physics class at age 13, that is what I have her do. (My expectation turned out correct; she got the best score in the class.)

I want my kids to learn to work hard, to develop proper study habits, to figure out what to do when you don't understand something (something I only learned in college), to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in college. This means their work has to be challenging enough because they can not reach these goals with "easy" material.

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1. In order to teach it, you have to know it first. Do not put yourself into a position of a blind person leading another blind - you HAVE to be (significantly) advanced compared to your student for teaching to make sense.

Alternatively, you can choose not to teach, but to facilitate - in that case, be sure to facilitate via high quality materials and contact with people who do know what they are doing.

 

2. Grade exclusively concrete, demonstrated knowledge. I completely ditch anything else; even more so, I consider a grade based on other criteria (repetitive daily work, "participating", "engagement", etc.) to often be borderline intellectual fraud. Grade *knowledge*, concrete testable knowledge, not those other aspects of one's work.

 

3. Incorporate oral exams amongst your evaluation tools. You may be surprised... for the good and for the bad.

 

4. Clear expectations - preferably black on white - with equally clear standards (D-level is this and this, C-level is this and this, etc.). Do not be vague about what you expect and what is to be accomplished.

 

5. Schedule *content*, not *time*. As concrete as possible. This leads to much greater efficiency on the side of the student AND keeps you from falling significantly behind (allowing, of course, for some flexibility when needed - I incorporate flexibility right away by planning a full week or two of studies to compensate for life that will come up more drastically at some times).

 

6. Adapt expectations to the student if they are advanced - never allow them to sink into complancency of having met the "typical" standards.

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2. Grade exclusively concrete, demonstrated knowledge. I completely ditch anything else; even more so, I consider a grade based on other criteria (repetitive daily work, "participating", "engagement", etc.) to often be borderline intellectual fraud. Grade *knowledge*, concrete testable knowledge, not those other aspects of one's work.

 

:iagree:

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Our most important tool for excellence is to choose curriculum and level based on the children's abilities alone and to completely disregard any "typical" expectations for the age group, anything other people's kids do, anything that is done in high schools.

 

Calvin did high school biology at age 11 and took the exam that most children take at 16. I looked at him - bright child, memory like a steel trap - and decided he was ready.

 

Laura

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I've based mine upon my good high school academic experience. I wanted my boys to know how to learn, how to think, and to master the foundations of various subjects.

 

We never gave any sort of grade based upon homework - it was all based upon tests, discussions, and/or written assignments (papers, etc). I'm not a "grade" person. I'm an "understanding the info" person. If understanding wasn't demonstrated (mastery), then we went back and fixed it. Once mine know something, they should know it - anytime, anywhere, allowing for some "dust" on the brain neurons if a bit of time has elapsed, but not a whole lot of allowances for it.

 

To double check, we based things off standardized tests and anything else I could find. Even then, it was kind of a guesswork to know if it was 'enough.' Oldest has felt very well-prepared for college, but I've seen a few gaps that I've tried to fill for middle. Middle son will be tested by going to a decent college next year and I'll ask for feedback. He's passed every 'test' so far with flying colors, but better than that, I see him actively processing/thinking - not just memorization.

 

Youngest I'm having to back off educating to the extent I'd like to. He's a different personality and will do well in his niche. He can think, reason, and will delve deeply into subjects for which he is motivated, but he lacks the drive to put effort into subjects he doesn't care for (reading classics is one of those). We'll see what happens with college, etc. Trying to live up to 'my' ideal was putting too much stress on him mentally. Since I enjoy having him alive, I'm having to adjust what is acceptable. Academics is my priority, but a broad academic spectrum is not his priority. So be it. Not all are destined for a top education. The fact that he can think and reason will still help him be successful in life (I hope).

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Our most important tool for excellence is to choose curriculum and level based on the children's abilities alone and to completely disregard any "typical" expectations for the age group, anything other people's kids do, anything that is done in high schools.

So, if I think my DD is capable of taking a college physics class at age 13, that is what I have her do. (My expectation turned out correct; she got the best score in the class.)

I want my kids to learn to work hard, to develop proper study habits, to figure out what to do when you don't understand something (something I only learned in college), to acquire the skills necessary to succeed in college. This means their work has to be challenging enough because they can not reach these goals with "easy" material.

 

Exactly! Unlike the schools, we don't have any rules about what a student can and can not do based solely on his or her age. With this freedom, we can choose courses which allow them to be challenged and to learn - the two can often be synonymous. For some students, without the challenge, the content is too far below their ability and may not hold their interest or encourage "learning".

 

I think the key is to know your student, and to tailor the course load and curricula accordingly. Don't choose things which will set them up for failure, but by all means don't sell them short either.

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Mine is not a popular position, of course, because it's not all daffodils and sunshine and "You can do this!" It's not particularly encouraging or affirming. But sometimes, the kindest thing is the truth, and the truth is not everyone who decides to home educate will be good or even adequate. You see, it simply is not enough to love your children. It's not enough to design a school room, wallpaper your homes in books, buy memberships to museums, and collect curricula. Nope.

 

You must also teach, and to teach well, you must be capable, smart, engaged, and certain.

 

The wonderful Marva Collins Collins wrote plainly but enthusiastically about the call to teach well:

 

Many of us can be excellent for a day, but we find a lifetime of excellence to be just a bit difficult. Good teachers leave their egos and problems at the door each morning. They become so immersed in the children they teach that they forget time, problems, who they are, or what they can't do. They believe that they exist for their students. They hear with their hearts, they see with their souls, and they teach with their conscience.

Parker J. Palmer also defined the essence of teaching well:

 

Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves. The methods used by these weavers vary widely: Socratic dialogues, laboratory experiments, collaborative problem solving, creative chaos. The connections made by good teachers are not in their methods but in their hearts -- meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge in the human self.

Let's face it: Palmer is describing a level of expertise here, isn't he? You can't, after all, "weave a complex web of connections" if you don't possess information and experience -- expertise.

 

This is, of course, why teaching the upper grades is difficult -- which is why, practically speaking, we must introduce our students to other teachers, other learning settings. Many may be able to teach with excellence and heart in the elementary grades, but only some can do so in the secondary school grades, and then, only in some subjects. At that point, it becomes critical to identify resources -- virtual schools, co-ops, dual enrollment programs, community mentors, or, if nothing else is available, the local high school -- for the subjects in which we are unable to weave a complex web of connections. Oh, and by the way? This is a good thing socially, too, since some (not all, but some) homeschoolers and their parent-educators seem to have a tough time adapting to conventional classroom habits and expectations.

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I don't know why my reply to this thread falls beneath another poster's reply rather than beneath the original post. Please forgive my lack of posting savvy.

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or, if nothing else is available, the local high school -- for the subjects in which we are unable to weave a complex web of connections.

 

My forte is neither English nor history. Yet the two I've homeschooled have outperformed their equivalent high school peers in both. Youngest son could have passed the World History final exam (missing just two questions) before he even set foot into the class.

 

I'm not convinced the local high school is best academically even in a pinch.

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I am very much enjoying the experiential and philosophical discussion on the current state of education in the other thread.

 

I would love to start this new thread to discuss practical application.

 

Please share strategies and/or examples of how you support and require excellence in your homeschool.

 

I use the standards set by SWB in TWTM for high school with some tweaking and expanding from wise people on this forum.

 

I use some outside tests (NLE, medusa mythology exams are the two we've done so far). They provide some competition and exposure to standards that are not mine.

 

I've (finally!) found an excellent math and science tutor who is an expert in those subjects.

 

I teach my student, not the students of others on this board. What I mean by that is that while still maintaining standards, I am teaching an individual. I might not be in danger of him getting lost in a classroom but sometimes I've been tempted to blindly follow others on this board because their Johnny or Susie did xyz. So I teach to my child's particular strengths while shoring up my child's particular weaknesses.

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Mine is not a popular position, of course, because it's not all daffodils and sunshine and "You can do this!" It's not particularly encouraging or affirming. But sometimes, the kindest thing is the truth, and the truth is not everyone who decides to home educate will be good or even adequate. You see, it simply is not enough to love your children. It's not enough to design a school room, wallpaper your homes in books, buy memberships to museums, and collect curricula. Nope.

 

You must also teach, and to teach well, you must be capable, smart, engaged, and certain.

 

The wonderful Marva Collins Collins wrote plainly but enthusiastically about the call to teach well:

 

Many of us can be excellent for a day, but we find a lifetime of excellence to be just a bit difficult. Good teachers leave their egos and problems at the door each morning. They become so immersed in the children they teach that they forget time, problems, who they are, or what they can't do. They believe that they exist for their students. They hear with their hearts, they see with their souls, and they teach with their conscience.

Parker J. Palmer also defined the essence of teaching well:

 

Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves. The methods used by these weavers vary widely: Socratic dialogues, laboratory experiments, collaborative problem solving, creative chaos. The connections made by good teachers are not in their methods but in their hearts -- meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge in the human self.

Let's face it: Palmer is describing a level of expertise here, isn't he? You can't, after all, "weave a complex web of connections" if you don't possess information and experience -- expertise.

 

This is, of course, why teaching the upper grades is difficult -- which is why, practically speaking, we must introduce our students to other teachers, other learning settings. Many may be able to teach with excellence and heart in the elementary grades, but only some can do so in the secondary school grades, and then, only in some subjects. At that point, it becomes critical to identify resources -- virtual schools, co-ops, dual enrollment programs, community mentors, or, if nothing else is available, the local high school -- for the subjects in which we are unable to weave a complex web of connections. Oh, and by the way? This is a good thing socially, too, since some (not all, but some) homeschoolers and their parent-educators seem to have a tough time adapting to conventional classroom habits and expectations.

 

Not a fan of homeschooling eh? If I could equate this to business, some of the best managers don't know how to do it all themselves. But they know how to hire well and rely on the expertise of others. That's a good manager. Similarly, with homeschooling, some of us aren't so much teachers as facilitators. For some classes, my dd doesn't really have a teacher as she learns directly from the text. IMO there's nothing wrong with that and it requires her to have a good understanding of the material. For other classes she has teachers she can consult when she needs help, others are taught online - which is mostly learning by yourself but guided by the online materials, and others are taught in a more traditional way with a teacher teaching. No one way is better than another. A homeschooling mom doesn't need to be brilliant. I think sometimes if we think that, it can work against us. I think the best homeschooling moms know that they don't know it all, but are willing to get help from those who do know. Saying "I don't know" but "let's find out" or "how are you going to figure this out" is part of being a good homeschool mom. I think that any mom who is willing to do whatever it takes to give their children a good education can make a good homeschool "teacher". A lot of it is willingness and being able to ask others when you yourself don't know.

 

Regarding connections, do you really think it's more important for the parent to make the connections than for the student to do so? I don't. Connections should be made by the student, not spoon fed by the teacher - in the upper grades anyway and some are doing it at a very early age.

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Regarding connections' date=' do you really think it's more important for the parent to make the connections than for the student to do so? I don't. Connections should be made by the student, not spoon fed by the teacher - in the upper grades anyway and some are doing it at a very early age.[/quote']

 

Nothing in my post suggests that I think "it's more important for the parent to make the connections than for the student to do so." It puzzles me that you think so. I quoted a passage from Palmer that speaks of the essence of quality teaching. It begins:

 

"Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves."

 

Allow me to repeat that with some emphasis:

 

They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.

 

I then posited that weaving this "complex web of connections" can pose great challenges to a parent-teacher in the upper grades, when he or she may, as I wrote, "be able to teach with excellence and heart" only in some subjects,

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Nothing in my post suggests that I think "it's more important for the parent to make the connections than for the student to do so." It puzzles me that you think so. I quoted a passage from Palmer that speaks of the essence of quality teaching. It begins:

 

"Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves."

 

Allow me to repeat that with some emphasis:

 

They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.

 

I then posited that weaving this "complex web of connections" can pose great challenges to a parent-teacher in the upper grades, when he or she may, as I wrote, "be able to teach with excellence and heart" only in some subjects,

 

Repetition is helpful for this dimwitted homeschooling mom. If I may repeat what you wrote after quoting Palmer:

 

"Let's face it: Palmer is describing a level of expertise here, isn't he? You can't, after all, "weave a complex web of connections" if you don't possess information and experience -- expertise."

 

Clearly you were referring to the teacher and not the student.Are you a non-homeschooling teacher by any chance?

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Clearly you were referring to the teacher and not the student.

 

Yes' date=' I was referring to teachers' ability to weave connections "among themselves, their subjects, and their students[b'] so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves." [/b]

 

I returned to my post, with emphasis, to get out from under the question you asked -- that is, "[D]o you really think it's more important for the parent to make the connections than for the student to do so?"

 

No. No, I most certainly do not. More, nothing in my post suggests that I think students should be, as you wrote, "spoon fed by the teacher."

 

I would add that nothing in my second post cast aspersions on your wits, either. It's unfortunate that you read it that way.

 

Are you a non-homeschooling teacher by any chance?

 

I have been homeschooling for fifteen years.

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I teach my student, not the students of others on this board. What I mean by that is that while still maintaining standards, I am teaching an individual. I might not be in danger of him getting lost in a classroom but sometimes I've been tempted to blinding follow others on this board because their Johnny or Susie did xyz. So I teach to my child's particular strengths while shoring up my child's particular weaknesses.

 

Thank you for helping me to remember this today. I posted on the other thread that I both love and loathe this board. I love it because it does make me think, it's an incredible resource and I have learned SO much. I loathe it because some days it makes me feel (trying to remember exactly how I worded it over there....) like an inadequate dope, robbing my children of an elite level home school education.

 

So I wanted to say thanks for giving me back some perspective...

 

~coffee~

 

P.S.: and thank you "teachin mine" for: A homeschooling mom doesn't need to be brilliant. I think sometimes if we think that, it can work against us. I think the best homeschooling moms know that they don't know it all, but are willing to get help from those who do know. Saying "I don't know" but "let's find out" or "how are you going to figure this out" is part of being a good homeschool mom. I think that any mom who is willing to do whatever it takes to give their children a good education can make a good homeschool "teacher". A lot of it is willingness and being able to ask others when you yourself don't know.

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Yes, I was referring to teachers' ability to weave connections "among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves."

 

I returned to my post, with emphasis, to get out from under the question you asked -- that is, "[D]o you really think it's more important for the parent to make the connections than for the student to do so?"

 

No. No, I most certainly do not. More, nothing in my post suggests that I think students should be, as you wrote, "spoon fed by the teacher."

 

I would add that nothing in my second post cast aspersions on your wits, either. It's unfortunate that you read it that way.

 

 

 

I have been homeschooling for fifteen years.

 

..

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Are you a non-homeschooling teacher by any chance?

 

She will be too modest to say so, and her low post count doesn't reflect it, but M-mv has been around these boards providing inspiration and participating in thought-provoking conversations since the very early days. She is most definitely a homeschooler. :D

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She will be too modest to say so, and her low post count doesn't reflect it, but M-mv has been around these boards providing inspiration and participating in thought-provoking conversations since the very early days. She is most definitely a homeschooler. :D

 

I've certainly found her posts on this thread to be thought-provoking. Inspiring? Not so much. But that's just my opinion. :)

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She will be too modest to say so, and her low post count doesn't reflect it, but M-mv has been around these boards providing inspiration and participating in thought-provoking conversations since the very early days. She is most definitely a homeschooler. :D

 

I was just thinking the same thing. I miss the early days.

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I was thinking this morning about the idea of standards that don't align -- if the "norm" is grade inflation, and one has a natural desire for one's child to succeed in life, it's unpleasant to think of giving one's child a lot of Cs for solid academic work but not exceptional or original caliber, but work that would typically generate at least Bs/B+s in high school or college, and then colleges, for example, would be doubtless underwhelmed by this seemingly average student with poor grades.

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Some of your responses have me thinking about whether a parent-teacher has to be an expert in every subject in order to require excellence?

 

Does a teacher have to be a master in order to inspire/require mastery?

 

I am very interested in your thoughts.

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Some of your responses have me thinking about whether a parent-teacher has to be an expert in every subject in order to require excellence?

 

Does a teacher have to be a master in order to inspire/require mastery?

 

I am very interested in your thoughts.

 

I think that step one of helping a student to explore beyond your own levels of mastery is to retain or develop a sense of curiosity and habits of study.

 

I can think of so many examples where teachers and homeschool parents have either not really cared about what they were teaching and were just going through the motions or were actively putting down what they were teaching (for example telling the student that they don't think they'll ever use a certain field of knowledge).

 

And I think that curiosity breeds more curiosity. Inquiry and learning is a skill and a habit that can be trained, in the same way that you can choose to put yourself through a couch to 5k program to learn to run better. Just as an example, I got interested in birds a few years ago. I'm still not a birder by any stretch. But as we've moved around, learning the resident common birds has been one of the early things I've done to feel at home. I decided not to stay in a position of ignorance, but to actively start learning about something new.

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Some of your responses have me thinking about whether a parent-teacher has to be an expert in every subject in order to require excellence?

 

Does a teacher have to be a master in order to inspire/require mastery?

 

I am very interested in your thoughts.

 

No a teacher doesn't have to be a master to inspire. The student can learn much from a bad teacher or from a coach who doesn't play at the player's`level, but understands and is able to guide the growth, if his mind is able. He can go on to seek others and acquire the habits of excellence.

 

The question is who will develop the child's mind, if the K-8 teacher is a presenter rather than a master? It is a bit obvious that many parents don't want that responsibility, yet are not allowing the child enough freedom and resources to satisfy its curiousity and learn and develop on its own. Many extinguish the curiosity and discourage development of thinking skills.

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I am very much enjoying the experiential and philosophical discussion on the current state of education in the other thread.

 

I would love to start this new thread to discuss practical application.

 

Please share strategies and/or examples of how you support and require excellence in your homeschool.

 

As Jane in NC has testified to the fact that I possess 99.8% stubborn personality, I am completely ignoring other people's perspectives and focusing only on my own :lol:

 

I focus on teaching my children at their ability level. I do not worry about grade leveled materials. I find materials that meet the individual child at their individual level of capabilities.

 

I do not accept anything other than the best that I know they are capable of producing.

 

I have managed to repeatedly teach my children well subject matter that prior to my planning our study, I had no knowledge. How? I have discussed it at length on the k8 board.....my modified version of the Jesuit philosophy of prelection. This link has a great explanation (it is via the way back machine so it takes a while to load) http://web.archive.org/web/20100414225419/http://school.jhssac.org/faculty/cheneym/documents/Section_13__FOUR_HALLMARKS_OF_JESUIT_EDUCATION.pdf

 

I have modified the process by applying the method to myself. I spend summers gathering materials. I spend days upon days sitting on the floor surrounded by books and poring over them. I select and discard what I think will work w/my individual students. I form a general plan of the path I want to pursue during the school yr. Then I spend 1 full week generally every 6-7 weeks writing plans focusing strictly on that time span. During my planning week, I delve more deeply into the subject matter and prepare myself for what we will be encountering.

 

The above is impractical for some topics. For example, my ds is so far beyond my math capabilities that I have had to completely step out of the picture. For astronomy, I researched the astronomy depts of several top unis and selected their textbooks they use at their introductory astronomy levels. I pay for online access to the supplemental materials (most textbooks these days have online supplemental materials that are definitely worth the expenditure)

 

FWIW, as we work through the daily plans, I learn alongside my kids. Typically, as an adult, I process the materials at a different level. Together we discuss our understanding and challenge each other to explain the view more thoroughly. And....we enjoy the process. We just finished a Shakespeare study that is on of the highlights of my 18 yrs of homeschooling. I learned so much--and so did my kids.

 

It is a process that may be pooh-poohed on the forum as incapable of excellent teaching, but irregardless, it is the method that has worked w/my kids. My graduates have all been solidly prepared for success at the collegiate level.

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So much of high school education these days is focused on test performance. Well, that is also true in the lower grades, but there the tests are often state specific. In high school, state specific tests continue. But ultimately it seems that high schoolers are measured by the SAT/ACT score, the number of AP tests taken, or the number of "passing" grades (whatever that means) on AP exams.

 

To be honest, when I look at my local high school, l fall back on mentioning these things because they are quantifiable. If I mention that few students seem to attend competitive colleges let alone graduate from the regional university or that many students seem to enter the local CC and take remedial courses--these things are nebulous because I cannot report what percent does what. (I can read the weekly court report in the local fish wrapper and tally the number of kids in trouble, but I'd rather not.)

 

So it could be argued that a well educated student should be able to perform reasonably well on one of those standard measures of education (say the SAT or ACT). But I wonder if the emphasis on the bubble sheet is detrimental. Our European friends will probably say not since their successful schools have measured results with challenging exams. Is the problem that nature of exams, i.e. the aptitude nature of the SAT vs. the testing of a knowledge base of the European exit exam?

 

I come back to culture in these discussions. Family culture is so critical. The kids I know who are succeeding or have succeeded in college as well as the kids I know who are in some rather interesting trade/agricultural programs (just spoke to an eighteen year old girl raising goats about her plan for a dairy building so she can sell chevre) come from families that have promoted big ideas. They have allowed their kids to follow passions whether it was buying a goat at age 13, building a sailboat in an urban apartment or learning to sew a business suit. The latter was done by an engineer we know as a high school project. He saw his sisters sewing and decided to join them.

 

Part of this involves turning off the TV and unplugging the games. Maybe pulling out the board games instead of the latter. Or pulling out an atlas or dictionary at dinner. Parents pushing their own boundaries by challenging assumptions via documentaries or lectures. Listening to our kids. Taking their ideas seriously and then helping them determine the baby steps that make larger plans come to fruition.

 

I don't have the answers. I just know that I have an interesting kid who seems to be on the road. (Fingers crossed?)

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Some of your responses have me thinking about whether a parent-teacher has to be an expert in every subject in order to require excellence?

 

Does a teacher have to be a master in order to inspire/require mastery?

 

I am very interested in your thoughts.

 

Well, I think that's rather the point. It's unlikely that anyone could be an expert in every subject; hence, one must seek other resources for the subjects in which he or she is not.

 

You know, if we were talking about sports or music, far less misunderstanding would occur. For example, if you posted about a swimmer who was routinely *just* shy of making qualifying times for his / her age group, folks might ask about the swimmer's interest in the sport (after all, some kids just want to swim -- coming in first and setting records are not even on their radar), his or her practice habits, and, yes, about the coach and the team culture. If the swimmer's goal is to make qualifying times, it might be suggested that it's time to move away from the recreational team and to a competitive team. Stroke clinics and camps might be mentioned, and of course, so will the coach -- as in, "Maybe it's time for a new coach, one who can 'tweak' the swimmer's technique and bring the swimmer to a new level." In other words, folks would recommend that the next steps for this athlete would be to seek someone (clinic leader, camp director, coach) better qualified to teach him or her how to improve those times.

 

Similarly, suppose someone posted, "My daughter has begun playing piano by ear and seems quite good. I was in band and choir in middle school and high school and am teaching her what I know about reading music. What are the next logical steps to support her in her interest in music?" I imagine posts describing how to measure the student's interest and how to select a piano teacher if her interest and the family's resources permit lessons. In other words, folks would recommend that the next steps after demonstrated interest and some rudiments of music would be to seek someone better qualified to teach the student piano.

 

(And, yes, I realize that there are some people in nearly every single field of study we could list who achieve a measure of success sans instruction, let alone instruction from a good teacher. But they are the exceptions.)

 

I think parent-teachers can and many do inspire and require mastery in subjects in which they are not experts or masters. I know I do. But then I don't teach all subjects -- that is, I don't teach all subjects beyond the level at which I am capable of (as I keep saying) weaving a complex web of connections among myself, the subject, and my students (so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves). And when I arrive at the point at which I can no longer do so (some examples from our family-centered learning project include math beyond algebra and geometry, laboratory sciences, music beyond the rudiments, foreign languages, and studio art) I identify other resources -- online courses, dual enrollment opportunities, private tutors, community mentors, etc.

 

_________________________

 

Early last month, I participated in a "rigor thread" (Will I never learn? *wry grin*) in which I maintained that one of the reasons I homeschool is that "I'm not terribly interested in what everyone else is doing -- how woefully underprepared Suzy Homeschool's kids are, how inarticulate Peggy Publicschool's kids are, etc. Really. Not. Interested."

 

"Conversely," I continued, "I'm really. not. interested. in comparative rigor, either. There comes a point when you simply have neither the time nor inclination to defend your choices, be they (seemingly) more or less rigorous than someone else's. You just do what you need to do."

 

I participated in this thread not to compare what we do to what others do but to address the OP's request to "share strategies and/or examples of how you support and require excellence in your homeschool."

 

Here, in my corner of the world, I support and require excellence by teaching well -- with heart, excellence, and a capacity for connectedness -- and by finding others to do so when I cannot.

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Some of your responses have me thinking about whether a parent-teacher has to be an expert in every subject in order to require excellence?

 

Does a teacher have to be a master in order to inspire/require mastery?

 

I am very interested in your thoughts.

 

My kids have all gone beyond my knowledge in certain subjects or parts of subjects. My aspie (youngest) started doing this at a VERY young age with those fields he's been interested in (dinosaurs, insects and bugs - they are DIFFERENT, Russia, Congo, plants/botany). I enjoy learning from him. Discussions have been priceless. His knowledge about plants has been useful around our farm. His self-confidence from knowing more and being 'top-dog' has been very valuable as well.

 

My role has been to show them where/how to learn more and how to discern between credible and not so credible sources.

 

Fortunately, there are still subjects/areas where I know more than they do, but as they get older, we're converging on some of them.

 

No 'one' person can know everything in depth, but a nice foundation is crucial IMO. We all specialize, but that doesn't mean I'm an ineffective homeschool high school teacher. ;)

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... undergirds nearly all of my posts on the topic of academic excellence and rigor. I found the following, which I wrote in response to a teaching / rigor / excellence thread here five years ago:

 

Elsewhere folks are discussing the idea that relationship-building trumps the parent-teacher's qualifications in the homeschool environment. It seems that previous virtual conversations have made some homeschooling parents feel inadequate to the task of teaching, since others have equated teacher quality with a certain level of education and competence.

 

I think both views are a little wrong.

 

And a little right.

 

In general, the quality of any educational program can only be measured by its participants -- that is, any evaluation must take into account the ability of the teacher and the natural talents of the students. I feel compelled to further define this idea: A good teacher can often improve the academic performance of poor or mediocre students. Good students can perform in spite of poor or mediocre teachers (although it is a disservice; ask anyone who did so, who performed well enough in spite of an incompetent teacher, or coach, or piano instructor). Good teachers and good students can make magic together. Great teachers and great students? Oh, that is the stuff of memorable years and classes, isn't it? And, yes, great students can and should outpace their teachers. But put a poor or mediocre teacher and poor or mediocre students together, and the results are always going to be poor or mediocre. In other words, the program can only go as high or as far as its engine permits, no matter how well all of the parts get along.

 

Get it?

 

If teacher quality were unimportant, then we would never hear another word about the professors in community or state colleges versus those in some of the "big name" schools. No one would ever suggest that one section of the co-op might be better than another because this teacher has more experience, energy, results, etc. than that one.

 

The quality of the teacher doesn't matter (much), some say? Okay. Let us never again prefer for our kids to get that coach or that swim instructor or that art teacher because the quality of the teacher doesn't matter, right? Let us never ask each other, "How do you do that?" because the quality, skill, experience of the teacher DOESN'T MATTER.

 

Right?

 

I mean no disrespect to those who subscribe -- even tentatively -- to this view, for whatever reason they subscribe -- even tentatively -- to this view, but it seems just plain shortsighted to diminish the concept of teacher quality when considering an educational experience, be it a swim team, a co-op, a traditional classroom, or, yes, even a family-centered learning project.

 

Now, that said, I feel compelled to add that I don't think a degree -- advanced or otherwise -- is what separates one teacher or homeschooling parent from another. One can be a quality teacher sans a degree. I think it might be more difficult, but I think it can be done. I need look no further than my father to know that.

 

Energy.

Integrity.

A wisdom-seeking mind.

Commitment.

The ability to find out what one knows -- and what he does not.

The courage to say, "I don't know," and then work to change that.

Communication skills.

A dash of warmth.

An interest in excellence.

A love of the learning life.

 

All of this and more can define a teacher's quality.

 

In making a case for the importance of teacher quality, I mean simply to emphasize that an educational program is more than relationships. As I have written before, a happy and successful home education adventure is most certainly predicated on a happy and successful parent-child relationship. But while it's pleasant to think that relationships are the measure of the family-centered learning project (FCLP), that's just too simplistic, misleading, and M&M-post-y even for me, the originator of M&Ms posts.

 

Good relationships undergird the FCLP, but success in learning and teaching means much more than that -- or, at least it should -- just as it means more than test performance. And more than the size or lack of a home library. And more than the right desk. And more than extracurricular activities. And more, so much more, than the degree a person has -- or doesn't.

 

Look, in rejecting what some may perceive as elitism or snobbery and/or in encouraging those who perceive themselves as arriving late (as I did) to the learning table, or ill-equipped, one must not swing too far in the direction of saying that the quality of the teacher matters not.

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I think parent-teachers can and many do inspire and require mastery in subjects in which they are not experts or masters. I know I do. But then I don't teach all subjects -- that is, I don't teach all subjects beyond the level at which I am capable of (as I keep saying) weaving a complex web of connections among myself, the subject, and my students (so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves). And when I arrive at the point at which I can no longer do so (some examples from our family-centered learning project include math beyond algebra and geometry, laboratory sciences, music beyond the rudiments, foreign languages, and studio art) I identify other resources -- online courses, dual enrollment opportunities, private tutors, community mentors, etc.

 

 

 

But one not always need to find someone else should the student have learned how to learn. Middle son taught himself Stats - up to getting a 5 on the AP exam.

 

I know, and routinely sub/teach, stats at our local high school (where no one takes the AP test due to poor prior performance on it), yet I only answered 2 questions for him the whole year he self-taught the subject. Even now, if a peer were to have questions, I'd refer them to him rather than myself for anything beyond what I've recently covered in school (which I haven't even done in a while). He could have done similarly if I'd enrolled him in a course, but he didn't need it. He has learned to learn by himself. One college admin told me self-study impresses them more than students who take classes for the same. My role? I searched out a good book (vs the carppy [sic] one our school uses) and good test prep materials when he was ready for those. I offered to help with questions (and would have helped figure out answers had I not known the two he asked). I registered him for the test and saw to it he was ready that day.

 

He can, and did, fly without me - or any other 'instructor.' To me, that's a large part of learning - whether it be my young aspie or my soon to head to college middle son. Oldest has freely thanked me for teaching them to be independent with their learning. He's felt it's helped him more than those who are teacher-dependent.

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one must not swing too far in the direction of saying that the quality of the teacher matters not.

 

Agreed. My point is that the teacher need not always be a person. But even then I'd agree that the quality matters. I did search out good books for my son to learn from for stats (and anything else where we used books for that matter). One of the big problems in our ps is that they use CPM math. I fail to see where that can be useful for most kids even with the BEST teacher using it as it's designed.

 

And it's due to the poor quality of curricula, the system, and [some] teachers that we opted to homeschool in the first place.

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But one not always need to find someone else should the student have learned how to learn.

 

I have already conceded that -- in the same post of mine you quoted. I wrote, parenthetically, "And, yes, I realize that there are some people in nearly every single field of study we could list who achieve a measure of success sans instruction, let alone instruction from a good teacher."

 

As an ardent autodidact, I am not only keenly aware that one may self-teach, I have modeled for my children those attributes that contribute to being a successful self-teacher. My son, for example, read widely and deeply in the fields of physics and astronomy. My daughters were self-taught in illustration, watercolor, charcoal, and other media. And then each of them determined that they needed more information, better guidance. In my son's case, that meant seminars at the Adler and, later, courses through dual enrollment. For my daughters, it meant "shadowing" in-residence artists, taking classes, and working with a retired art school admissions director to determine what might be required for a portfolio. In some cases, they identified the next resource; in some, I helped them do so.

 

My experience, then, is that there are some subjects and/or some levels of inquiry for which a teacher is required, and when one is, if I cannot be that person, if the student cannot be that person, I work with my students identify someone or some resource.

 

I see that you've already posted another reply. I don't think I will *ever* get the hang of these boards. (*smile*)

 

You wrote, "And it's due to the poor quality of curricula, the system, and [some] teachers that we opted to homeschool in the first place."

 

To some extent, same here. Limited options for our son put us on this path more than fifteen years ago.

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I'll just say that I've never seen these elusive teachers who are better than my homeschool.

 

I went to 3 high schools and some 5 grade schools, oh and 1 junior high. Never had a genius K-12 teacher, but managed to graduate from college summa cum laude, phi beta kappa. I've had kids in public schools, and never met these elusive teachers. One of my kids was public schooled K thru 12th and is a petroleum engineer now, graduated with honors -- after a poor quality high school but an involved parent. I've worked at a Kumon center for 5 years with many kids who attended very expensive private schools, some which only hire teachers with masters degrees, and the kids are just kids, some like academics and some dont, some have picked up a bit from their teachers and are way ahead of the pack but clearly benefited from a bit more help from this learn-as-she goes homeschool mom/tutor.

 

I feel I've seen a LOT of teachers and the evidence shows the humble effort and concern that i bring to the table provide MY kids a better teacher than any I've seen in action. And I didn't even know what a preposition was, and sadly didnt know whether the Civil War or the Revolutionary War came first ( :banghead: ), until I'd been homeschooling a few years. ;)

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I'll just say that I've never seen these elusive teachers who are better than my homeschool.

 

Some teachers who are/were far better than what I could offer in the family-centered learning project: two ornithologists on staff at the Field Museum, an astronomer / educator at the Adler, a priest whose first language is Polish (when my son wanted to learn Polish), an artist-in-residence, professors and adjunct faculty at the local college, a retired director of admissions, assorted tutors, and all of their music teachers (even the first piano teacher (*wry grin*)).

 

Like you, I have met my share of inept classroom teachers, but I have not confined my definition of a teacher to "those found in a high school classroom." In fact, the local high school is the last suggestion I offer in my initial post, and I offered it because, simply put, sometimes a number of factors will converge -- the home teacher's ability or lack thereof, the student's aptitude, state requirements, the lack of other suitable resources and/or the lack of means by which to acquire or use those resources, etc. In some circumstances, the local school really does represent the best method by which to meet a goal. I am acquainted (virtually) with a number of homeschooling parents who have looked to their local high schools as an academic cafeteria of sorts to just this end -- meeting a requirement that he or she cannot. Foreign language, higher maths, and music come to mind.

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But I wonder if the emphasis on the bubble sheet is detrimental. Our European friends will probably say not since their successful schools have measured results with challenging exams. Is the problem that nature of exams, i.e. the aptitude nature of the SAT vs. the testing of a knowledge base of the European exit exam?

 

 

Most British school-leaving exams are essay-based. I don't think there's any excuse for bubble filling at that level.

 

Laura

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I'll just say that I've never seen these elusive teachers who are better than my homeschool.

 

I had two professors in college who were fantastically well educated. As an example, one girl was nervous about her root canal and wewere discussing before class started. None of us actually knew what was involved. The professor drew a diagram on the board and explained. This was not dental school. Another could recite poetry on about any subject. I found this mind-boggling.

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Some teachers who are/were far better than what I could offer in the family-centered learning project: two ornithologists on staff at the Field Museum, an astronomer / educator at the Adler, a priest whose first language is Polish (when my son wanted to learn Polish), an artist-in-residence, professors and adjunct faculty at the local college, a retired director of admissions, assorted tutors, and all of their music teachers (even the first piano teacher (*wry grin*)).

 

Like you, I have met my share of inept classroom teachers, but I have not confined my definition of a teacher to "those found in a high school classroom." In fact, the local high school is the last suggestion I offer in my initial post, and I offered it because, simply put, sometimes a number of factors will converge -- the home teacher's ability or lack thereof, the student's aptitude, state requirements, the lack of other suitable resources and/or the lack of means by which to acquire or use those resources, etc. In some circumstances, the local school really does represent the best method by which to meet a goal. I am virtual acquaintances with a number of homeschooling parents who have looked to their local high schools as an academic cafeteria of sorts to just this end -- meeting a requirement that he or she cannot. Foreign language, higher maths, and music come to mind.

 

Have you actually sat in on classes taught by these learned folks, or worked with their students? I'm just saying that it doesn't matter the qualifications -- all the folks I have experience with are just folks. Like me. Strong in some areas but clueless in others. Some know a lot but don't teach well or only reach certain students; others are obsessed with certain "issues"; some are too chatty; others too rude; some had a very narrow education; others miss key central elements. I have the same strengths and weaknesses, and so will my child. I have yet to meet the teacher I hold on a pedestal, and firmly believe a home education will produce results as good as or likely better than the other options out there, academically anyways (the non-academics are the bonus!).

 

I have outsourced here and there over the 10+ years I've homeschooled, for lots of different reasons -- but never because I felt the teacher would be perfect or have fewer flaws (of different sorts) than if we did the task at home.

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Have you actually sat in on classes taught by these learned folks, or worked with their students? I'm just saying that it doesn't matter the qualifications -- all the folks I have experience with are just folks. Like me. Strong in some areas but clueless in others. Some know a lot but don't teach well or only reach certain students; others are obsessed with certain "issues"; some are too chatty; others too rude; some had a very narrow education; others miss key central elements. I have the same strengths and weaknesses, and so will my child. I have yet to meet the teacher I hold on a pedestal, and firmly believe a home education will produce results as good as or likely better than the other options out there, academically anyways (the non-academics are the bonus!).

 

I have outsourced here and there over the 10+ years I've homeschooled, for lots of different reasons -- but never because I felt the teacher would be perfect or have fewer flaws (of different sorts) than if we did the task at home.

 

Yes, I've had the good fortune to see some of the people I named teach. And of course, I have worked with their students (*wry grin*) -- they're also *my* students.

 

I think I understand the gist of what you're saying -- teachers, even good ones, are just people. I don't disagree. But I most emphatically don't share your conviction that "a home education will produce results as good as or likely better than the other options out there, academically anyways." On the contrary, I believe parent-teachers are ill-served by subscription to the false catechism that simply because they home educate, they are providing a superior education. We need a periodic reality check, and the fact is that some homeschoolers are un(der)prepared for more conventional academic and/or professional success.

 

But if on that point we can agree to disagree, as folks here regularly request, I would only add that there is no way I could have replicated Father W.'s instruction in Polish here at home. What Drs. X, Y, and Z gave my students when they worked with them in astronomy, ornithology, and art, I am incapable of providing. Art? Music? Where the teachers, tutors, mentors, etc. we have engaged have taken my students, I most certainly could not. Whatever flaws or foibles those instructors / mentors possess, they also possessed knowledge and a knack for sharing it.

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I'll just say that I've never seen these elusive teachers who are better than my homeschool.

 

Really????

Honestly, any French native is a better French teacher than I can possibly be- because he speaks the language, and I do not.

Any professional musician will be a better violin teacher than I can possibly be - because he plays the violin.

 

I find the sentiment that one, as a homeschooler, is by definition a superior teacher rather astonishing. There are things I know nothing about; hence I can not possibly teach them.

Of course I can facilitate learning, but teaching my child to become proficient in a language I do not speak, I can not. And I doubt any other parent who does not speak will ever achieve this goal. Just like no non-violin-playing parent can ever teach a student to become a violinist.

The idea that a parent who never studied higher math can teach calculus is absurd. (Her kid can still learn, but will have to rely on books, videos, tutors and outside classes to do so)

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Really????

Honestly, any French native is a better French teacher than I can possibly be- because he speaks the language, and I do not.

Any professional musician will be a better violin teacher than I can possibly be - because he plays the violin.

 

I find the sentiment that one, as a homeschooler, is by definition a superior teacher rather astonishing. There are things I know nothing about; hence I can not possibly teach them.

Of course I can facilitate learning, but teaching my child to become proficient in a language I do not speak, I can not. And I doubt any other parent who does not speak will ever achieve this goal. Just like no non-violin-playing parent can ever teach a student to become a violinist.

The idea that a parent who never studied higher math can teach calculus is absurd. (Her kid can still learn, but will have to rely on books, videos, tutors and outside classes to do so)

 

With all of this, I nod my head in agreement.

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I'm with MFS, even though I find it really hard to locate these amazing teachers.

 

15yo ds, on the other hand, is a whiz at finding out what adults can teach him. Everywhere we take him, we find him talking with adults in charge and soaking up everything. He often gets invitations to job shadow, chat, or try his hand at whatever the topic is. He's been doing that since he was about 9 years old, so he's met lots of experts. It all started one day at the Children's Museum when he met an electrical engineer and had one of the most important conversations of his life. He learned that all his home-acquired education gave him the tools to ask great questions. He also learned that LOTS of adults are thrilled to meet curious and capable kids, and will make time for him.

 

We believe in experts. I think overall my homeschool is a better learning environment for my son than the local public school, but I have no illusions about my own awesomeness. I am definitely more of a facilitator than a teacher, and I am always encouraging my children to "find out" from someone who really knows the subject.

 

I agree with Creekland that the expert doesn't always have to be an In Real Life person. Videos and documentaries and books count. Also, we have a resource librarian who speaks my son's language...if he wants a book on string theory she'll know of half a dozen other books related to the topic that he should also read.

 

On the other hand, I'd also like to speak up for the connections that are made in a homeschool environment simply because the child has one continuous educator for 12 years (Mom). This week, my son had the entire Sennacharib story come together right before his eyes. He had all the pieces: Bible history and law, Assyrian history and mythology, the geography, the architecture of Jerusalem at the time...all of it. He had the literary skills needed to not only understand but truly relish the King James Bible account of the dialogue. He had toys and props scattered all over the schoolroom floor, retelling all of it to me as he was planning how the movie would go. (He's always seeing films in his history lessons.)

 

Then I brought out the Pièce de résistance: 'The Destruction of Sennacherib,' by Lord Byron. I remembered studying the poem with ds when he was eight years old. It was part of Sonlight's old Core 3. We had both loved it, and loved the art with the Angel of Death. We'd gotten as much from the poem as we could, but it wasn't much since we hadn't yet studied the time period at the rhetoric level.

 

Well, now we have studied at a higher level, the highest level we'll reach while ds is still a homeschooling student. I remembered the poetry book and went to find it. Ds read the poem aloud with such expression, depth, and understanding, with a look of pure joy on his face. That was it, the pinnacle of his excitement in the lesson of the day.

 

I was there at each step over the years, reading him that poem when he was eight, teaching him to read, familiarizing him with the Bible, choosing great curriculum to help me connect the dots so I could turn and show him, and bringing up past lessons (years past!) at just the right moment. WOW. That's why homeschooling works.

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I'm with MFS, even though I find it really hard to locate these amazing teachers.

 

I appreciate that. I was beginning to feel like Phineas -- in the second after the tree limb was jounced. Heh, heh, heh.

 

I agree with Creekland that the expert doesn't always have to be an In Real Life person. Videos and documentaries and books count. Also, we have a resource librarian who speaks my son's language...if he wants a book on string theory she'll know of half a dozen other books related to the topic that he should also read.

 

Amen. The Teaching Company courses come to mind.

 

On the other hand, I'd also like to speak up for the connections that are made in a homeschool environment simply because the child has one continuous educator for 12 years (Mom).

 

One of the great gifts of home education.

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I've astonished Regenitude, that made my day :)

 

Hmmm... Maybe I'm hearing really broad statements and reacting too broadly to make sense? I mean there are homeschoolers who don't do much and there are homeschoolers who outsource everything, but there is so much ground in between. And if you outsource, there are of course lame teachers and apparently a few really great teachers, but most are somewhere in between.

 

My concern on threads like these is that homeschoolers in between the two extremes will choose to send their kids back to group schools, to teachers in between the extremes, because they are hearing that they're incapable of teaching quality high school, and don't have the time or resources to run each kid around to the best of the best for each little thing. Tons and tons of homeschoolers quit when they get to high school. I started homeschooling with a 10th grader and felt like I was trying to go in the out door.

 

Okay, let's take music and foreign language. I don't think many folks quit homeschooling over those, but they are good extremes. Here are my experiences with those:

 

1. Oldest son's public school German teacher had no control over the class and quit afterwards (as was the rumor with my own Spanish teacher). He finished with another teacher who took tight control. But now at age 27, I gave him a Dr. Seuss book in German for Christmas and he loved it but can't read a single word.

 

2. Middle dd took French I at public school and passed even though she didn't turn in a single assignment all year (to any class, which is why I homeschool now), and had her headphones stollen I think twice so she couldnt do the listening work in class sometimes. She then did French II at home with a mishmash of things and I hired a French teacher to meet weekly for several weeks and talk/evaluate -- she was deemed a fine candidate to reenter the ps French III class. I know no French, but did use various materials (as does any French teacher). She still speaks/understands a little French.

 

3. We had a French exchange student one year who spoke excellent English, but none of her classmates seemed capable of communicating at all. I asked Marine about this, and she said they had all had English for some 8 years, but she could speak English because she had a passion for American movies :)

 

Oh, this is getting too long, but I have similar experiences with music. And math. Etc.

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I've astonished Regenitude, that made my day :)

 

Hmmm... Maybe I'm hearing really broad statements and reacting too broadly to make sense? I mean there are homeschoolers who don't do much and there are homeschoolers who outsource everything, but there is so much ground in between. And if you outsource, there are of course lame teachers and apparently a few really great teachers, but most are somewhere in between.

 

My concern on threads like these is that homeschoolers in between the two extremes will choose to send their kids back to group schools, to teachers in between the extremes, because they are hearing that they're incapable of teaching quality high school, and don't have the time or resources to run each kid around to the best of the best for each little thing. Tons and tons of homeschoolers quit when they get to high school. I started homeschooling with a 10th grader and felt like I was trying to go in the out door.

 

Okay, let's take music and foreign language. I don't think many folks quit homeschooling over those, but they are good extremes. Here are my experiences with those:

 

1. Oldest son's public school German teacher had no control over the class and quit afterwards (as was the rumor with my own Spanish teacher). He finished with another teacher who took tight control. But now at age 27, I gave him a Dr. Seuss book in German for Christmas and he loved it but can't read a single word.

 

2. Middle dd took French I at public school and passed even though she didn't turn in a single assignment all year (to any class, which is why I homeschool now), and had her headphones stollen I think twice so she couldnt do the listening work in class sometimes. She then did French II at home with a mishmash of things and I hired a French teacher to meet weekly for several weeks and talk/evaluate -- she was deemed a fine candidate to reenter the ps French III class. I know no French, but did use various materials (as does any French teacher). She still speaks/understands a little French.

 

3. We had a French exchange student one year who spoke excellent English, but none of her classmates seemed capable of communicating at all. I asked Marine about this, and she said they had all had English for some 8 years, but she could speak English because she had a passion for American movies :)

 

Oh, this is getting too long, but I have similar experiences with music. And math. Etc.

 

Is it valid to conclude that experts don't exist b/c you could not find them in your region?

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In my opinion there is much that goes into making a home education environment work, particularly past the elementary grades and I don't believe there is anything innately superior about a parent-teacher. I do believe that many children would benefit from having the consistent education, the individualized attention, an individualized program of study, and freedom from the mundane and senseless aspects of a brick and mortar school (however inherent and unavoidable) that are often part of a homeschool experience.

 

I do believe that parents need to strive to be excellent and knowledgeable teachers. That goal would manifest itself in a variety of ways at different stages of a child's education and would look different with every teacher-parent as they each have different strengths and weaknesses.

 

I know the days when life forces the kids to go it alone for hours or for a day are worse than the days I am fully engaged in their learning. With multiple children and other obligations it can be difficult. It requires reducing and scheduling outside commitments and less "me" time. Sometimes it requires a full family commitment. It requires me to accept (and to realize that not everyone else will understand) that I am not like other stay-at-home-moms. I don't have the same child free hours to devote to leisure, errands, projects at home, volunteer opportunities, part time employment and such. My life is going to be different. I know that as my kids are approaching high school that much their studies are about to become our studies as I read and learn alongside them as part of ensuring the quality and success of their education. I need to be honest with myself and realize there are some subjects I am not able to teach successfully and I will outsource these to a qualified substitute. I also realize that outsourcing doesn't completely relieve me of all my responsibilities in that area.

 

In the meantime we work on learning to meet deadlines, learning skills required of students in non-home learning environments (ie note-taking and testing), creating good lifetime habits, learning what it is like to be part of a larger academic community (or to not be the only fish in the bowl), planning more and further into the future rather than taking it one step at a time, increasing a love of learning and an ownership of the experience rather than being passively led. The parent-teacher is working on needed changes in personal habits, planning, researching, creating reading lists, helping find new opportunities, and letting go of worry about what others think and doing what is best for the kids. I can educate myself, plan, prepare, facilitate, organize, and help. I can prepare transcripts, help find sports clubs/lessons, locate tutors and courses, and spend lots of hours in discussion, debate and reviewing lessons with them. I am here to help these older students learn to weigh choices and help them mature as students and individuals. And while I continue to teach them I can't learn for them. All I can do is try to seek excellence in myself as I expect it from them.

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So I'm reminded of Robert Heinlein's comments on education in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. In his setting of a future moon colony, there is little to no formal school. Teachers are those who have skills worth someone else paying to have access to. That might mean paying a welder to teach you airlock or space suit repair or paying a learned man to teach you calculus (even though he's learning a couple chapters ahead of you).

 

And I think there are many instances, especially in sports, where the facilitator does not personally have skills that surpass the protege. They do have an intimacy with the sport and a perception that lets them see where improvement is necessary and an understanding of how to explain what is necessary for improvement.

 

I'm not sure "all ya'll" are really in that much opposition. Teacher can encompass such a wide spectrum, from someone at the front of a class to a one on one tutor to the lecturer on a video to the author of a textbook or website.

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Being an expert in a certain content area does not make you a good teacher. We had that illustrated just this year. I hired a math/science tutor who had all the letters behind his name. He was mathematically and scientifically brilliant. He was not a good teacher. Now I've hired another expert who both knows his stuff and knows how to communicate it well. I've also met experts in their fields who were as boring as watching paint dry. No enthusiasm for their subject at all! But other experts are so alive that they know how to explain even complicated things in a way that someone who is not an expert can still understand it. I've also met teachers who weren't the most expert in their content area but a combination of superior teaching/communication skills and the willingness to delve into the material themselves to learn along with their students still made them a good teacher. I think this is the human version of a "living book".

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