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Doodler,

 

Thank you for the post. It helps me understand what you have been doing with your daughter. As regards visual versus textual materials, SWB writes somewhere in WTM that lectures, etc. should not be substituted for her reading suggestions, so I am assuming she believes they are valuable supplements. (I remember reading that in WTM last night but cannot find it now, so don't please don't quote me.) However, I do understand the limitations of a text-only approach since I've worked with significant learning problems in our home. Ultimately, we spent quite a bit of time and energy learning the skills needed for text-based courses, which helped at the college level.

 

For the high school persuasive essays, SWB's writing lectures outline the types of papers she suggests, and the section of WTM on writing papers as part of the Great Conversation provides other ideas. With the years we have left, I doubt that we could fully explore even those options. I wrote my post hoping for clarification on the difference between WTM and the interest-led learning discussed on this thread, and it seems to come down to types of materials used for learning and a framework and/or materials determined more by the student than the parent. I can see that WTM doesn't exactly fit those criteria.

 

Btw, since interest-led learning doesn't seem to include typical tests and quizzes, what types of assessment do you use - evaluation of papers, projects, discussions? WTM history/literature doesn't include tests either, so assessment has been on my mind.

 

For as b&w as I am (and goodness knows I'm exceptionally b&w), it has not occurred to me to think that WTM's suggestion to write a sentence, a narration, a paper, or anything else was some EXCLUSION of all other methods. Mainly I just thought it was an unimaginative, sequential way of quantifying and getting somewhere, not a statement of what we COULD and could not do, mercy. If that were the case, then all those creative teachers who have their kids doing book jackets and crafty book reports instead of neatly typed ones sure better have their licenses revoked, lol.

 

Don't know, I've just never allowed anything in WTM to be exclusionary. I look at it and go "Ok, this is what she says, how does it translate to MY kid and my situation?" End of story. I sit there with paper and tally up every single thing she suggests, come up with totals, then ask how I can get them in ways that fit my kid better. Sometimes I adjust the totals, don't die, lol. But why would I allow someone to put me in a box when they've never taught my kid???

 

I've talked with SWB about my dc in person, with my dc there, and she has told me stories about how she adapts for her own kids and suggestions she'd make for mine. I totally think that if she had our kids, she would fully be on board with all the creative adaptations. She wants it to interest the kid and meet them where they're at. I know that because I've sat with her and heard the stories.

 

So whatever. It's always interesting to me to see how others view the same thing. We're all reading the book, but we all have these different reactions to it, lol. As far as the print thing, that's not really astonishing. For me it's one you put in the category of "I take it under advisement." You CAN'T always make things work. But where you can't because you've sincerely got a wall there, you take it under advisement that it's a weak point, something where you're diverging, something where you might be able to come back around later and hit it. At least you know it's an issue and can make an informed choice. She has, after all, written a very general work, and she's not really writing specifically to a SN audience.

 

I don't know. None of it bugs me. But I guess that's because I know, in the end, I'm with my kid teaching her and know her and WTM is just a set of ideas. I modify as needed and take under advisement the rest.

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I agree with Doodler's assessment of TWTM. I will say, though, that I don't really see TOG as a planned curriculum. It is a guide. For me it strikes a happy medium of giving me a direction to go without spelling out the entire course of study. TOG is going to look different depending on the family, choice of books and emphasis--much like TWTW. I can't comment on Biblioplan, since I haven't looked at it much, but I know we wouldn't do well with MFW for the simple reason that it is mapped out for you. TOG gives me more ways to tailor the plan.

 

I have some other thoughts about this discussion, but will have to post later as Ds is waiting for me to pick him up from his naturalist program.

 

Shannon, I think you've hit on a good point. WTM at the junior high and high school level puts a lot into the opinion and interpretation of the student. Some parents aren't on board with that philosophically and want something that's going a different direction, a little more parent-thought driven. And once you realize you really want that, sometimes you need a lot more structure to make that happen. So WTM for GB/history as WTM describes is combining skill, content, principles (look at original sources, think in a rhetoric way), with also a philosophical statement on the role of the student and role of the teacher. It's possible to peel those things apart and decide you need a different philosophy but still want the skills, content, and rhetoric thinking. Then the mom wants some help getting there and you have TOG. It's not shocking, I don't think, that a mom wants help to get all that done. I want that, lol. I don't want to be constantly winging things. I get tired of planning instead of teaching.

 

Well I'm totally on a tangent, lol.

 

You know to me, and I'll open a HUGE can of worms here, the one thing that really bugs me about what I read in WTM for the high school level (and I was reading HoAW this weekend, which is what I'm basing this on) is that it's education without responsibility. There's no accountability on what to DO with the information or what the CONSEQUENCES are of the information or the higher wisdom we should GAIN by studying the materials. It's just thing after thing. Occasionally she pulls wisdom out in HoAW. I actually liked it more than I imagined I would. I think she has done fascinating things with it. However once you say you want those discussions about wisdom and consequences and what it means and what the implications are, then the mom needs a lot more help, kwim? And I don't actually see that happening in straight WTM, not unless the mom is bringing WAY more to the table than I am, lol.

 

Like I said, a can of worms. But it's another reason why I don't just want to launch off into utter lala land, because the WHY behind the information matters to me as much as the information itself.

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OhElizabeth,

 

I learned about WTM when it was first published, and it wasn't something we could even consider in our circumstances. However, I remember my friends discussing at length outlining Kingfisher and trying to find the "white" edition versus another edition, and I remember thinking that years of outlining one book and one author's style of writing would cause rebellion in our home. I never could find that suggestion in WTM. The spines, including Kingfisher, are used for other purposes. In fact, in the new edition of WTM, SWB illustrates the outlining process with a book on Canada, so I am assuming that she wants the student to outline supplemental resources. Regardless of the book(s), I could see that SWB was using a variety of souces to teach skills. Even if you don't want to follow WTM history cycle, you could go through the book, list the skills, determine the method for teaching them, and then use that approach with any subject. It's concrete and simple. Teach your student to outline, to pull out important events/facts/people from a text, to use use a print timeline to find dates, and to develop an timeline, etc. Teach him these skills as you study ancient history or horses. It really doesn't matter.

 

I do have SWB's lectures, and I am listening to them again as I plan for next year. I wanted to follow WTM this year, but it has been a year of finishing portions of 8th grade work, filling gaps, and building skills. We've put a solid grammar foundation in place, so we will begin Latin next year, which I studied in high school and consider a priority. We have notetaking skills in place. We will be working on outlining this summer, and writing is coming along nicely with the progym through Classical Writing. We will begin 10th grade completing some things we began in 9th grade, but we're slowing and surely putting the skills in place to actually study a subject, whether we use WTM as the guide, which is my plan, or chart our own path. I've enjoyed so much have the luxury to learn along with our last student.

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Regarding the can of worms, I think what you have described was the reason so many mothers were excited by "the thread" in the spring. If you don't have underlying principles that you are teaching while you are teaching history, literature, etc., then what's the point? It all become interesting information, even at the rhetorical level, at least to a certain extent. As someone put it to me recently, you create a knowledge monster that might just turn and bite you. The problem for many mothers is tying their faith, beliefs, etc. to what they are teaching. SWB doesn't do that in WTM, so TOG, MFW, Biblioplan or other packaged curriculum become the guide, but really that isn't the answer for many of us.

 

Also, I haven't been on the boards that long, but there seem to be just a few families even doing WTM for high school, so I haven't seen many posts that have a feel of exclusive WTM. Most families are using packaged curriculum, a few WTM ideas, and online, cc or university classes. It will be interesting to see the direction of families with elementary-aged children. In the old days, there weren't many options for classical ed, and WTM was one of the few. Now, there are complete classical packages.

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OhElizabeth,

 

I learned about WTM when it was first published, and it wasn't something we could even consider in our circumstances. However, I remember my friends discussing at length outlining the Kingfisher and trying to find the "white" edition versus another edition, and I remember thinking that years of outlining one book and one author's style of writing would cause rebellion in our home. I never could find that suggestion in WTM. The spines, including Kingfisher, are used for other purposes. In fact, in the new edition of WTM, SWB illustrates the outlining process with a book on Canada, so I am assuming that she wants the student to outline supplemental resources. Regardless of the book(s), I could see that SWB was using a variety of souces to teach skills. Even if you don't want to follow WTM history cycle, you could go through the book, list the skills, determine the method for teaching them, and then use that approach with any subject. It's concrete and simple. Teach your student to outline, to pull out important events/facts/people from a text, teach him to use a timeline to find dates and to create a timeline, teach him to research, teach him write, etc. Teach those skills as you study ancient history or horses. It really doesn't matter.

 

I do have SWB's lectures, and I am listening to them again as I plan for next year. I wanted to follow WTM this year, but it has been a year of finishing portions of 8th grade work, filling gaps, and building skills. We've put a solid grammar foundation in place, so we will begin Latin next year, which I studied in high school and consider a priority. We have notetaking skills in place. We will be working on outlining this summer, and writing is coming along nicely with the progym through Classical Writing. We will begin 10th grade completing some things we began in 9th grade, but we're slowing and surely putting the skills in place to actually study a subject, whether we used WTM as the guide or chart our own path. I've enjoyed so much have the luxury to learn along with our last student.

 

Yes, that is the beauty of TWTM plan. But, as Elizabeth has said, I am tired and I want some help. The problem, for me, became that I had another Dc to teach who did not learn nearly so easily as Ds. She needed a lot more of my time and teaching in order to master skills like reading and math facts, among others. I could no longer keep up with Ds's reading. In order to discuss I needed to do the reading. In order to know if he used skills effectively, I needed to know the material.

 

I am learning all the time b/c that is the type of person I have always been. I don't read a ton of fluff and whatever hobby I am immersed in I educate myself about to the nth degree (Dh sometimes call them obsessions, not hobbies.). I don't always want to be learning exactly what Ds is learning. Then throw in my auto-immune issues and I may not even be capable of keeping up with him even if he were my only student. Plus the fact that he has way more time than I for getting the reading done.

 

TOG gives me awesome notes for those books I don't end up reading and gives me a way to discuss without requiring me to do all the reading with Ds, yet he does not have to use a textbook approach. Sorry, not meant to be a plug for TOG. It just fits our situation very well and gives us that happy medium for history and lit. I imagine Omnibus works the same way, and there are other ways to address the issues I faced and still stick more closely to TWTM way.

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Shannon,

 

I sympathize with being tired. I am homeschooling our last student, spent years solving complex learning problems with our older children, and wish I had worked through WTM on my own before now because I wouldn't be walking a new and unfamilar path. Really, it's good that TOG fits you needs and goals. I borrowed Year 2 from a friend, and it does offer discussion notes, schedules and lots of teaching help for parents who just don't have the time or energy to pre-read literature, plan, etc. I am hoping to stay one book ahead of dd.

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Elizabeth, thank for posting this. I needed to hear it today.

 

ETA: I have been waiting for the annual "If you aren't a rigid adherent of TWTM or classical homeschooling, why are you here?" thread. It's the one that always leaves me feeling like the friend that I have been happily drinking coffee with over the years, suddenly posted a sign in her living room that said, "No one with size nine feet allowed...LISA!"

 

Well, I haven't ever noticed those threads. Maybe I had my blinders on!

 

I am here because I accidentally stumbled in and it looked like a place worth staying. I care passionately and deeply about providing the best education for my children that I can given our personal abilities and resources. I look for the most accurate and inspiring information that I can find. Nothing beats this board for meeting that need and hardly a day goes by that I don't wish SWB a perfect cup of coffee and the quiet time to write her next book!

 

For some reason, this thread is really leaving me pulled down and it is not your fault, Elizabeth. There is everything here that I usually love to discuss and debate, but now, I just don't know. I no longer have any clue what interest-led is, if it is viable, and if I really care. My discoveries made with regards to Mesopotamian poetry and the page-turner thrill in reading about the back-stabbing battles between Near East archaeologists? I don't know what to do with them.

 

I know what you mean. This thread is causing me to think in circles. I'm just going round and round trying to figure out what is the best approach for us. Meanwhile, the books I need to go through and the planning that needs to get done isn't happening.

 

I think it really comes down to why you are home educating in the first place. I know I need to sit down and re-examine those goals and see where some of the ideas in this thread fit and where they don't.

The more I dig into my Great Books work ala TWTM, the more hesitant I feel to ask the hard questions, the ones that express some doubts. But how do I grow and learn as a teacher without doing so? I desperately want to talk about David Ferry's Gilgamesh, but since I don't agree with SWB's recommendation, I feel like it would be taboo and there is no point.

 

Well, I don't always agree with SWB's recommendations either. I don't know why you can't talk about it here. I am not a huge fan of WEM. There, I said it. Don't ask me to give reasons why I'm not b/c I have only a vague memory of the book. All I know is I took it out of the library once and decided it wasn't for me.

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And for anyone who still cares in the least bit :lol::lol::lol: I'll add one more thing: a lot of confusion and angst comes from nothing to do with TWTM but from what you referenced in the original quote from MtnTeaching, which is college admissions requirements. For some schools the requirements are increasingly rigid, prescriptive, and narrow. Our state university system, for instance, now not only specifies how many years of what subjects, but even what textbooks "count" or are allowed. I had a ton of electives in high school, but now with all the requirements, it's difficult to have more than one or two unless you happen to have an energetic child with stamina for seven credits a year. It's a hundred times more difficult to feel happy or secure in pursuing interest-based, out-of-the-box learning, to make time for rabbit trails, or to bring non-traditional topics in as a main focus of school when you have those kinds of straight-jacket requirements.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:And that, in a nutshell describes my dilemma for making decisions about high school. I think I see a better way, but then I look at the college requirements and I pale.

 

And, get this, I can even feel pressure about letting a kids follow passions. I remember posting earlier this year about the book How to Be a High School Superstar Without Burning Out (I think that's the title). Now, the author says, colleges want to see the student who is driven by his/her interests. No longer are they looking for well-rounded. They want to see that your Dc had an interest and followed it through to an extremely high level. All those APs and extracurriculars just don't impress b/c they have seen so many of the same things on transcripts.

 

So, then I feel pressure to get Ds to focus in on one particular interest and take it to the highest level he can. But how can I do that if he really and truly has interests all over the place? So, do I make it a lesson in learning that in order to achieve in one area you must cut back in another? Or do I let him continue to explore? I just keep coming back to Paula's comment that the education needs to fit the child and not necessarily be driven by what colleges are after. But, that doesn't mean I have any more answers than I did at the start of this conversation.

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This is the thread from earlier this year where we were discussing the book I mentioned. I did have the title wrong.

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...but doesn't WTM allow for interest-led learning in those subject areas? With WTM, the student makes decisions about the dates, individuals and events they want to study, and they make decisions about the essays they want to write. If the student has a particular interest/bent, wouldn't that show up in his choices for further research? Also, the chapter on junior and senior projects gives a general idea of the direction this intensive work could take; i.e. everything from history to sports. So, doesn't WTM provide for interest-led learning and teach the skills to accomplish it?

 

Yes. This has been my experience, for the reasons you listed.

 

The more I dig into my Great Books work ala TWTM, the more hesitant I feel to ask the hard questions, the ones that express some doubts. But how do I grow and learn as a teacher without doing so? I desperately want to talk about David Ferry's Gilgamesh, but since I don't agree with SWB's recommendation, I feel like it would be taboo and there is no point.

 

Lisa, you *should* talk about that on this self-ed forum. That's what it's for, and I'm sure you'll get lots of input. Ferry is only one recommendation - I'm sure SWB would say, "Have at it with other translations - dig in, compare, talk! That's the whole point!"

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And, get this, I can even feel pressure about letting a kids follow passions. I remember posting earlier this year about the book How to Be a High School Superstar Without Burning Out (I think that's the title). Now, the author says, colleges want to see the student who is driven by his/her interests. No longer are they looking for well-rounded. They want to see that your Dc had an interest and followed it through to an extremely high level. All those APs and extracurriculars just don't impress b/c they have seen so many of the same things on transcripts.

 

So, then I feel pressure to get Ds to focus in on one particular interest and take it to the highest level he can.

 

As always in college admissions I think you need to differentiate whether you are speaking about ONLY the top 100 or so most prestigious, most selective colleges in the country OR if you are talking about the colleges where most people go to school. If your student is aiming at the the most selective schools with very low acceptance rates, then yes, it does help to have a single purpose or focus and to really demonstrate exceptional acheivement in that area. And, the expectation is also that the student be way above average in all academic areas as well.

 

If on the other hand, your student is looking beyond the very most selective colleges you will find schools that want both the single focus kids and the well rounded kids. I've seen many well rounded kids do very well in admissions both at big universities and small liberal arts colleges. Colleges need students who will be actively involved in campus life - in music, sports, politics, etc. So, I would not advise trying to shove your well rounded kid into the mold of exceptional accomplishment in a single domain. Students are most successful when they do what genuinely interests and motivates them. Of course they also need to cover all the basic subjects at a level that indicates readiness for college.

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Yes. This has been my experience, for the reasons you listed.

 

 

 

Lisa, you *should* talk about that on this self-ed forum. That's what it's for, and I'm sure you'll get lots of input. Ferry is only one recommendation - I'm sure SWB would say, "Have at it with other translations - dig in, compare, talk! That's the whole point!"

 

Colleen, you are absolutely right and I will do that after I take a good long walk, and a bit of a board break. My head seems to be completely where it has no business being.:tongue_smilie:

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:iagree::iagree::iagree:And that, in a nutshell describes my dilemma for making decisions about high school. I think I see a better way, but then I look at the college requirements and I pale.

 

And, get this, I can even feel pressure about letting a kids follow passions. I remember posting earlier this year about the book How to Be a High School Superstar Without Burning Out (I think that's the title). Now, the author says, colleges want to see the student who is driven by his/her interests. No longer are they looking for well-rounded. They want to see that your Dc had an interest and followed it through to an extremely high level. All those APs and extracurriculars just don't impress b/c they have seen so many of the same things on transcripts.

 

So, then I feel pressure to get Ds to focus in on one particular interest and take it to the highest level he can. But how can I do that if he really and truly has interests all over the place? So, do I make it a lesson in learning that in order to achieve in one area you must cut back in another? Or do I let him continue to explore? I just keep coming back to Paula's comment that the education needs to fit the child and not necessarily be driven by what colleges are after. But, that doesn't mean I have any more answers than I did at the start of this conversation.

 

Shannon, I remember being in high school thinking what a FARCE that advice was to diversify. Kids ended up pushing themselves into stupid, MEANINGLESS activities (at least for them), for the sake of saying they did something.

 

In your ds' case, he's doing the total opposite. He's pursuing a strain of activities that all have a similar theme. In fact, I'm not even sure you see it. To me, just from what I remember of your description, to me he sounds like a leader. Everywhere he goes he's being put in charge of something and doing something pro-actively. So in that sense I don't think it matters WHAT the thing is, because he's doing it with engagement and in a way that reflects his gifts.

 

I would let him be. I wouldn't change one thing about him. :)

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Colleen, you are absolutely right and I will do that after I take a good long walk, and a bit of a board break. My head seems to be completely where it has no business being.:tongue_smilie:

 

:grouphug: Like sleeping in the middle of the night. 2 am struck me last night.

 

I'm curling up (perhaps in a fetal position) with a nice copy of Gilgamesh this evening.

 

In my overwhelmed state this weekend, I divided up each subject and put my planning materials for each subject into a box. The boxes are sitting on ds's desk, which he's supposed to be using for math this summer, but that's another rant.

 

So I'm looking at these boxes. I avoided them for two days. Today I picked up the art box and wrote down what I need to do to finish planning. Tomorrow I'll pick up another box.

 

I've already done this, but I'm trying to go through each subject to determine how/why it will mesh with ds skills and my goals.

 

Off to find dinner, and a book.

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Eight, I understand what you are saying here. I write most of my own curriculum for my youngest as I have very specific goals in mind as to what I want us to accomplish. Many hours of hard work, research, and soul-searching go into the development of those plans.

 

This past fall, my literature plan did not get off the ground. This child has never been a reader, and he suddenly decided to read classics that I had not planned on doing this year or had not planned until later in the year. As much as it pained me, I did set aside those original lessons. This was a gift I felt I had to run with; I wasn't sure I would get the chance again if I said, "No, you can't read that; it's not on the plan."

 

We went higher and farther than I thought possible with this child. It was more work than I have ever put into literary analysis and I would do it again in a heartbeat. He chose the books. They had to be classics and I dictated the written work. Literary responses had been negotiable in previous years, I would tell him what the goal was in doing the assignment and if he could provide me with an alternative assignment that accomplished the same goal, I would accept that. I did not have the patience to go through that negotiation process this year as I had to write new lesson plans as we went along.

 

Eight, I usually end up on your posts when I think my standards are slipping. So wasn't this a case of the student's interest leading the way? Yet, the academic results were superior to the original plan. Did I just get lucky? I am asking about this because I had considered playing with the same concept for high school if he is home in the fall and at this point, it looks like he will be. Although he has already assured me he has no desire to mess up my Ancient Great Books plans.:tongue_smilie:

 

Sorry you are feeling so much angst, Lisa. (I am confused, though, is he now not going to school?)

 

I'm in a hurry and not sure I fully understand what you are asking or describing or if you are satisfied w/what occurred, why you are even asking for affirmation. :confused:

 

It sounds like you had a splendid yr w/ds and that you both got far more out of it than you ever anticipated. It sounds like a success! (it reminds me of what I did w/my 7th grader last yr and Anne of Green Gables and poetry.......blows my mind to think about what she read/devoured last yr and wants more!)

 

I'm guessing by your deleted comments that I read copied in Shanvan's that your angst is from thinking not in terms of this thread but the threads in the past where there has been disagreement over what is being discussed?? KarenAnne/Doodler actually addressed the main issue where I have had disagreement w/her in the past and I agree w/her present post. (though my disagreement has not been over classical vs not b/c I do not consider myself a classical homeschooler and automatically classify what she discusses as not classical and am not sure why that matters one way or the other. Most of the posters on this forum are not pure classical in approach.) The main issue that I have attempted to discuss in the past is that what you do in high school does impact their options for their futures. That is what you need to be aware of as you design their high school curriculum or in KA's place letting them design their own. If going to a CC is an option, there is essentially no pressure to follow a certain "protocol." If you want a 4 yr university, it is going to depend on the school. If you want a top school, you need to know in advance what the bar is that needs to be surpassed.

 

Like KA mentioned about her friend, my dd was offered a huge scholarship to attend a LAC. She is an avg student w/avg test scores w/nothing overwhelming that jumps out and shouts $$$$. The difference is the school is not a highly competitive top-tier school. For the population applying to that school, she is a top student. For my ds that wants to attend a top school, even w/his 5s on APs, university courses, high SAT subject test scores on multiple tests.......he is going to be an avg applicant.

 

Like I wrote in my original post on this thread......high school can be as high pressure or as low pressure as it is made. The difference is that the options for the different choices lead to (or restrict) various outcomes. All students do not need the same type of education. I have never for a minute believed otherwise. But all education is not equal and I think that should be obvious to homeschoolers who have deliberately made the decision to reject certain forms of education. Why? B/c education is not optimal in a one size fits all. That is true of higher ed as well.

 

I hope you find your feet and stop letting the "waves" shift your sand. You have done a great job w/ your ds. Trust yourself and set standards you are happy w/and you should have a successful yr ahead of you!!:grouphug:

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Shannon,

 

I sympathize with being tired. I am homeschooling our last student, spent years solving complex learning problems with our older children, and wish I had worked through WTM on my own before now because I wouldn't be walking a new and unfamilar path. Really, it's good that TOG fits you needs and goals. I borrowed Year 2 from a friend, and it does offer discussion notes, schedules and lots of teaching help for parents who just don't have the time or energy to pre-read literature, plan, etc. I am hoping to stay one book ahead of dd.

 

I spent time pre-reading with Omnibus, but now that we're at this stage it doesn't even call to her. She wants the inverse (history with a little GB, not GB with a little history). So who knows, you could have done all that work and realized it didn't fit your kid anyway. :blink:

 

And yes, I feel that tugging of reality. I have skills I *need* to put time into for dd and things I'd *like* to put time into with her. And if I spend a lot of time PLANNING on top of that, where's my time for my ds?? He gets short shrift a lot. It's actually why I've been trying so hard to plan more out this year, because I want to have some structure that can go on auto-pilot so I can put my energies elsewhere.

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I spent time pre-reading with Omnibus, but now that we're at this stage it doesn't even call to her. She wants the inverse (history with a little GB, not GB with a little history). So who knows, you could have done all that work and realized it didn't fit your kid anyway. :blink:

 

And yes, I feel that tugging of reality. I have skills I *need* to put time into for dd and things I'd *like* to put time into with her. And if I spend a lot of time PLANNING on top of that, where's my time for my ds?? He gets short shrift a lot. It's actually why I've been trying so hard to plan more out this year, because I want to have some structure that can go on auto-pilot so I can put my energies elsewhere.

 

Yes, Elizabeth, I feel exactly the same way. I know I'll read some of the same books Ds is reading and some Dd is reading, also do some read a louds. I also have my own background in literature (English major) to rely on (so I have read many of the great books) even if my memory isn't perfect. I can see myself quite possibly reading some of the TOG history selections, since history is something I didn't spend a lot of time on in my own education. But, as you say, this is why I need to do the planning. I can't be deciding off the cuff where I'll be putting my energies, especially with the load of extracurriculars we have going on. And you are right about all of his activities. The only exception is skating. I know he can't really take that to any impressive level (well, to me it is already impressive) but as you said in another post, it serves a purpose. He gets some exercise, gets away from his own head, de-stresses for a while and enjoys what he is learning.

 

Paula,

 

I did the same thing with making piles of what books Ds is going to use, and am also planning to reevaluate. But like you I'm seeking a book, the couch (and a heating pad). I think tonight might be one of those nights where I hit the ice cream for the first time in several weeks since I stared juicing. I guess you can't juice ice cream. :lol: Unlike you, I have virtually none of the actual planning done. I'm still researching what we'll use for Logic (Ds's request to study it). I have several ideas, but need to choose what is realistic before discussing them with Ds. Again it's an issue of whether I want to try to read the same book and keep ahead of him, or buy planned curriculum. Still haven't decided.

 

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Well, I don't always agree with SWB's recommendations either. I don't know why you can't talk about it here. I am not a huge fan of WEM. There, I said it. Don't ask me to give reasons why I'm not b/c I have only a vague memory of the book. All I know is I took it out of the library once and decided it wasn't for me.

 

Yeah, that's WAY too big a can of worms for me today. :D I differentiate *skills* and philosophy. When you start talking about interp, value, application, that's philosophical, that's religious, and I'm perfectly fine disagreeing about that and still valuing their take on SKILLS or efficiency in coverage.

 

Shannon, I know you deleted this, but I wanted to dredge this up from what you said that was quoted by Shan. "For some reason, this thread is really leaving me pulled down and it is not your fault, Elizabeth. There is everything here that I usually love to discuss and debate, but now, I just don't know. I no longer have any clue what interest-led is, if it is viable, and if I really care. My discoveries made with regards to Mesopotamian poetry and the page-turner thrill in reading about the back-stabbing battles between Near East archaeologists? I don't know what to do with them."

 

Maybe what happened is that we shifted from my original question to Mtn, which was on structure vs. freedom to diverge at times, to student-led, which is a lot more overwhelming and open-ended for people. What helped me was to finally wrap my brain around the idea of freedom within a framework. We did it when dd was younger, but it was more chaotic and random. Anyways, maybe if you set up a little scale of all the way structured to all the way student led and some levels in-between, maybe you would find a spot in that continuium that would give you and your student peace.

 

You also wrote this:

The more I dig into my Great Books work ala TWTM, the more hesitant I feel to ask the hard questions, the ones that express some doubts. But how do I grow and learn as a teacher without doing so? I desperately want to talk about David Ferry's Gilgamesh, but since I don't agree with SWB's recommendation, I feel like it would be taboo and there is no point.

 

Have you thought about googling and finding online commentaries on Gilgamesh or whatever other works you want to discuss? If you did that, you'd probably find so many viewpoints and interpretations that you could actually debate them among yourself, lol. Then you'd have your own quiet discourse and the realization that, where your ideas are different, they're probably also held by SOMEONE else. And as for versions of Gilgamesh, I can't fathom why there could only be one "right" one. When I researched it a couple years ago here on the boards I found numerous versions recommended, so I tried to obtain and read several of them. Variety in this old stuff and translated stuff, absolutely. Recommendations are streamlined for people who only have money or time to buy *1* and need to get to a reasonable one quickly. It's not a judgment on the rest of them, mercy.

 

BTW, you mentioned in another post that you had bad experiences with discussions growing up that distinctly were *not* Socratic. Have you since learned to discuss more socratically? Might be very healing to your soul. I'm very curious what you used to learn that if you did. WEM or something else? I went to a talk by Andrew somebody at the convention and he was vending Socratic discussion materials. The questions seemed so similar to WTM, I didn't buy.

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I am so thankful for this thread. I am facing 9th grade with my DD and I have been freaking out. She is really wound up about college and her lovely grandparents have convinced her that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY I could prepare her to get accepted to the college of her choice. Throughout their doubts, I began to doubt myself. However, there is just not enough time in the day to dedicate (at home) to EVERYTHING the state says the PS kids must do. It would only get done that way if I skimmed the surface, or had them skim the surface, and that is a huge reason why we HS...so we can go deep.

 

I also have a 10th grader but he is easier and less worry because we know the technical school he wants to go to has an easy set of requirements. He has special needs, and the technical school also caters to those.

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:iagree::iagree::iagree:And, get this, I can even feel pressure about letting a kids follow passions. I remember posting earlier this year about the book How to Be a High School Superstar Without Burning Out (I think that's the title). Now, the author says, colleges want to see the student who is driven by his/her interests. No longer are they looking for well-rounded. They want to see that your Dc had an interest and followed it through to an extremely high level. All those APs and extracurriculars just don't impress b/c they have seen so many of the same things on transcripts.

 

 

I think what is important to remember is that some college admissions offices are in the position of choosing between a dozen applicants who ALL have AP courses (because that has become the defacto college prep track, replacing honors in some places). I haven't really heard anyone from the college world say that they no longer wanted students to take AP, but rather that it was no longer something that would set a student apart.

 

I can't speak to the well rounded vs passion issue all that much. The school I interview for is still looking for students with academics/sports/leadership not just academic superstars or athletes with low academic ability. But this is a specialized school with a specific mission.

 

Where I have heard of a backlash against many activities is when it seems like a student has joined a lot of things just to pad the resume, but not really been very involved with the activities or demonstrating any kind of leadership role within that organization. On the other hand, it is possible to take disparate experiences and activities and weave them into a theme that expresses the student's gifts and interests.

 

For example, the VBS drama group and the historical site interpretation could be used to highlight a student's interest in drama or in using innovative methods to communicate the message of a group. Another kid who is a competitive swimmer and boy scout might highlight the volunteer mentor/coaching that he does in the summer along with the scout experiences to demonstrate leadership, love of teaching others and a desire to help other people master new skills through patient coaching.

 

When I'm in an interview and someone mentions that they were involved in a half dozen activities, but can't discuss how any of them were important, changed them or led them to move beyond themselves (or at least where they started), that's when I begin to wonder.

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Yes! This! And this is not specific to WTM, btw, but any open-ended curriculum or interest-led study. The student is gathering all this information, but then what to DO with it? Write a paper? Ok ... and the grade is based on what?? Proper mechanics and form -- that's easy. But how to gauge content at this level? For those of us who've not homeschooled a high schooler before, how do you know when you've reached that elusive synthesis level of understanding? I think my kid is pretty bright, and expresses himself pretty well, etc, etc, but what do I know? Ditto for those out-of-the box open-ended projects like posters, or putting on a play, or building a model, or writing a radio program script. I mean, ok we can do that, but how on earth does that translate to a grade on my single-page transcript form :confused: Where's the line between a project that's worthy of an A or one that's a B? And who among us is going to give a poor grade to a project that a child put honest effort into, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with something they should be (according to our lesson plans) studying?

 

I have a big problem with "subjective" and tests/quizzes are my friend :leaving: At least with a test, I can back up my opinion of his performance with some data.

 

Well, you can make the grading less subjective by creating a rubric ahead of time and making expectations clear to your student. Have your grading system in place so you know where the grade lies after using the rubric. The rubric gives you the data you are talking about. But, that's still a lot of work and you still have to make a ton of decisions about what sort of assessments you will use. Will you assign an outline, grade a discussion, a poster, a speech, etc. Spread over the course of a school year, that's a lot of designing. I've done it. Yes, I could still do it (and sometimes I do), but I find in general I'm a happier person if I have some help in this area and some kind of assessments to fall back on b/c, as I said before, I'm tired, and I no longer have the time and energy to design everything myself. I can design parts of Dc's courses of study, but not everything.

 

:iagree: I was :lol: at the comment about the "white" vs. "red" editions of Kingfisher because YES I DID hunt down the "white" version (because that's what SWB used so obviously that one was essential :tongue_smilie:). I think it lasted a week in our house. The read-and-outline for every subject, even for my NT child, was an exercise in torture. Don't even want to think about going there with my SN. The left-brain linear format is pushed so hard, but is such a nightmare for some kids. :glare:

 

Someone could make a fortune designing a high school curriculum for homeschoolers with VSL/right brain in mind. Maybe one of you amazing Moms could get started on that. Like, pronto. I need it in three years :drool5::lol:

 

Yes, outlining gets old at our house too, however it does carry over some into note taking and it trains the mind to think about what is being read in an orderly fashion and pick out the most important info. Pure outlining I see as a skill and once it's mastered it can be used for specific purposes, but not necessarily for every subject and every assignment.

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Yes! This! And this is not specific to WTM, btw, but any open-ended curriculum or interest-led study. The student is gathering all this information, but then what to DO with it? Write a paper? Ok ... and the grade is based on what?? Proper mechanics and form -- that's easy. But how to gauge content at this level? For those of us who've not homeschooled a high schooler before, how do you know when you've reached that elusive synthesis level of understanding? I think my kid is pretty bright, and expresses himself pretty well, etc, etc, but what do I know? Ditto for those out-of-the box open-ended projects like posters, or putting on a play, or building a model, or writing a radio program script. I mean, ok we can do that, but how on earth does that translate to a grade on my single-page transcript form :confused: Where's the line between a project that's worthy of an A or one that's a B? And who among us is going to give a poor grade to a project that a child put honest effort into, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with something they should be (according to our lesson plans) studying?

 

I have a big problem with "subjective" and tests/quizzes are my friend :leaving: At least with a test, I can back up my opinion of his performance with some data.

 

 

 

 

Someone could make a fortune designing a high school curriculum for homeschoolers with VSL/right brain in mind. Maybe one of you amazing Moms could get started on that. Like, pronto. I need it in three years :drool5::lol:

 

I've been looking at Bloom's taxonomy to help separate my subjective mommy grade into something tangible. I found this website, that someone linked on another thread, that has been helpful. I'm still up to my eyeballs in planning, so I'm not sure how it will all work out. If you click through the levels you'll find ways and specific questions to help assess their level of understanding.

 

I also found a test template by googling, I can't find it right now, it may be a download. You can make a simple traditional test. I may be doing that in some areas.

 

I do have some rubrics I use for writing. I need to dig those out too. Some rubrics are so vague, others too specialized, you almost need one for each subject. I always feel torn when using one, because I have a hard time grading when I know my son is doing his best and it doesn't line up with a 4 or 5, but he's worked at the top of his ability.

 

You know these are things I'd like to see in a conference, not that I go to one anyway, but how to grade interest led subjects. How to quantify learning, how to grade fairly even if all their homeschooling friends are getting As. How to deviate from a plan and still maintain control. Thankfully, you all are here, so we can pull our hair out together. :lol:

 

Going to seek more coffee now.

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I'm lovin' this discussion!

Andrew Pudewa has an article in the Old Schoolhouse magazine April 2012 issue. I can't for the life of me find it on my computer and link it (I can find it on my phone, though, lol!) It's called From Slacker to Scholar. Reminds me a lot of Doodles' ideas. Pudewa's 12yo was finishing her schoolwork in record time, without real quality, and without a real love of learning - just get it done mentality. So he gave her a few things to do, but made 4 hours of school mandatory. Together they came up with a list of things to research (history events, biographies, classic lit, etc.). She could choose what to study and how long to study it. If she wanted to read about something for 5 mins, then she could. If she wanted to study something for her remaining 2 hours, fine. She was required to write 2 paragraphs each day about what she studied. I've been tempted to try this with my upcoming 7th grader, but want to try a few other things first.

 

OhE - your plan for using TOG sounds similar for my plan to use MFW ECC. The thought of following the MFW plan made me hyperventilate, but the idea of not following a plan was just as fear invoking. I really just wanted a grid that I could completely gut if I wanted to. I didn't really want to spend $300 for a general plan that I might not use, but just had as a safety backup, so I borrowed ECC from a friend. I saw a post you'd written about using a series of books from the library (Beauty of the Earth, or something like that?) and thought those books sound perfect for what we want to do with geography this year. So I could see using the MFW plans as a guideline of what to study, but completely leaving that structure to use books I think are better. And there's that wonderful book basket list on the back of the TM. We'll see how it goes.

 

As for grading: a friend of mine takes a much more relaxed approach to high school. She uses a lot of out of the box, everyday real life learning. She seems to be able to know her own kids ability very well, and can grade them according to their proficiency. (Kid spends a lot of time with animals, and can perform mini surgery in the backyard? A in Biology! VS. Kid can't do math to save her life? D in Math!) She finds that her dc SAT scores come out just the way she would grade them, so the colleges aren't scratching their heads at the inconsistencies between her given grades and their scores. I don't feel I have the confidence, yet, though, to know how my dc do in comparision to the rest of the world. One of my dd I thought would get extremely low scores on her yearly test in Grammar (she consistently misuses verb tense, so it seemed a given). On the test, though, she scored amazing. She's proving to be a good test taker, though.

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Sarah,

 

It's an interesting idea, that informal grading can sometimes be just as accurate as rubrics, tests and other attempts of formalize a grade. I remember years ago reading the notes for the teacher in BJU Math for testing (at the elementary level). Basically the notes encouraged the parent not to strictly follow a point system for grading the test. They suggested looking at the number wrong, but then also using your knowledge of the child's abilities to assign a grade, especially on tests with fewer problems. The idea was that the test may not accurately reflect the student's abilities. I was surprised that a major publisher would be so open. For some reason I have a harder time following this advice in high school. I suspect, though, that the ability to accurately grade informally may differ from parent to parent.

 

I read the same article. Thanks for reminding me about it. It fits nicely with this discussion. Something else to read!

 

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Wee Pip, your friend cracks me up!! You're remembering the Enchantment of the World series, and yes they're good. We used some Beautiful America series books this summer and will finish going through the states this coming year.

 

I really appreciate you bringing this line of thought up. See the books I'm wanting to use with dd this fall are from the Time Life What Life Was Like series. They're exactly dd's cup of tea, and I've been coordinating them loosely to sections and chapters from the BJU world history. It's sort of an inverse way of getting a framework, starting with the books. But like you, I keep hyperventilating and wanting someone ELSE'S framework to plug it into! But I think it's because knowledge is infinite. There's always something more to the subject, so it's hard to know when you're doing a good job. And now for 8th I'm going through conniptions on what regrets we'll have if we hit 9th and *haven't* hit ancients. I know that's utterly ridiculous, but there you go. :lol: That's what I've been sweating for the last couple days, whether I'm getting in so much room for rabbit trails that we're not getting somewhere fast enough. But then I tell myself to get over it. So for right now I'm just plotting a couple paths and when dd gets back from her grandparents she can sort through it herself and see if she has a preference. Doubtless she'll have one, lol.

 

And just to be clear for the more mathematically minded, there are about 14 books in that Time Life WLWL series. About 1/2 of them cover non-western cultures and history (Japan, China, etc.), and the other 1/2 go through a more typical progression (ancients, middle ages, up to the Russian Revolution and the Hapsburgs, I have no clue what I'm talking about...). So I could either do the non-western this coming year and the western the following year do all the books in one year. The other thing that struck me, when I spent time REALLY LOOKING at all the units and week titles of TOG last night, for all 4 years, is that all these cultures are THERE in TOG. They might not be covered exactly as I would, and you don't get this tidy little progression of Ancient south americans to Simon Bolivar/indepence to modern all in one tidy 3 week unit, but it's actually in the curriculum already. It's just spread out. And that's really a preference thing, not a right or wrong, kwim? But now that I'm understanding the issues better, I can toss it out to dd. Where it's just a matter of preference, it really doesn't matter.

 

Off to play with my toddler.

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See, my biggest battle, I think, is in dd's personality differences. We've always battled school and butted heads, right from kindergarten (when we were supposed to be having fun with it). Dd is a very b/w, yes/no person. That doesn't leave a lot of room for discussion:lol: She has no seemingly academic interests, so I'm interested in what Doodles said about tying those non-academic things gradually into academic areas. Dd comes thru as a non-energetic doer. She just does things and gets things done, but isn't especially energetic or perfectionistic about it. She's taken a huge interest in Art this year. Will I run with it? You betcha! Not sure if that will burn her out or feed a new love, so we'll see. Some of it is outsourced, and she's paying part of it (her choice). She also enjoys Cooking, so the idea of tying Cooking in with geography and history strikes a chord for me. This takes me out of my comfort zone, because I am not a "let's craft this or cook this!" kind of person. Up until this year, dd didn't want to craft anything schooly either ("let's just get it done, already!"). But now she's showing interest in devoting a little school time to arts/crafts. This thread has really inspired me about leadership, too - dd has just been itching to teach something or lead something. I think she will make a good organizer someday. I'm just not sure what to do with it yet. She's young (12 in Oct), so she just doesn't have a lot of leadership options yet, other than to boss her 2 younger sisters around.

 

But as far as a "history or science" gal, she's neither. She'd like 100% step-by-step science experiments (but not the kind that involve self-discovery. Science fair projects are torture). For history, she seems to like short/sweet facts with lots of photos. If we can connect this to an upcoming museum trip, she gets more out of it. There is just such a hands-on, practical aspect to her learning that I have trouble wrapping my brain around. I'm a "learn for the love of it" person, and really chew all sides of an issue before I can present a solid opinion. And even then, my opinions go deep into all the gray areas. This drives her crazy, of course! I think my upcoming 5th grader will be a dream to take thru high school. She'll be the one that plots her own course, and will delve in deeply. But she won't be able to cook dinner or run a household (my practical older will).

 

I can understand the conflict with "will we ignore ancients?" because I still have that 4 year cycle stuck in my head. But since we've really skimmed the surface of every era in the elementary years, it just might be OK to let the dc run with certain themes, and trust that connections are being made. I've often thought my high school years in public school would've been better served with giving me a library and 6 hours to study each day (and a personal math tutor, since that was my weakness). Through my own meandering, I would've hit most major subjects in a way public schools couldn't.

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I'm enjoying this discussion. Thank you to all who are contributing food for thought.

 

I guess you can't juice ice cream. :lol:

 

Uh huh, yes you can. It's called a milkshake.

 

I had precisely the same thought!

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Wee Pip, you might find this interesting. http://www.susanwisebauer.com/blog/the-raving-writer/a-writers-education/ It's a blog post from SWB way back in 2006 where she was talking about her plans for customizing for her oldest. To all appearances she's blowing through HoAW and HoMW each in a semester (something I can see my dd doing in 9th or 10th) and not even worrying about the ancient literature to go with it. Shudders, she's not following WTM!! :lol: Love it.

 

Anyways, as far as your dd not liking history, I would suggest that she may but not with the history she's been shown to this point. Most of the history people cover is political. Get her something with more people, cooking, LIVING, and it might strike her fancy. After all, that's the stuff it sounds like she's drawn to. I've wondered for some time at the extreme male-centered education we women give our daughters in the name of doing a good job. It just doesn't make sense to me. I mean that is the whole CRUX of WEM, that there are lots of ways to see the world and that you could put on a new prism (the prism of women's issues), read through the entirety of history, and see it afresh and learn a ton. It's not like there's one set of knowledge that is the ONLY knowledge worth having. And yeah, usually those women were married to the political leaders or acting in political situations so the more traditional issues get covered.

 

Well maybe that gives you some fodder.

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2nd thought on the b&w, yes/no thing. I can tell you, as an excessively b&w person myself, that history is infinite and overwhelming. I need it streamlined, flowcharted, compartmentalized. It has to be something I can wrap my brain around in a very b&w way, or it doesn't make sense. If you teach it with some never-ending story method, it's not something that is clear to me. I love VP's approach for that. Everything is neat and tidy, organized into time periods and specific topics. Then from there you decide where rabbit trails fit.

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I too found myself feeling so much pressure at the start of 9th grade, feeling very constricted and limited in what we could do because of "the requirements." For a huge number of reasons, our decision (jointly with dd, that is) this year (10th) was to go with minimal formal work and a boatload of interest-directed learning.

 

What happened was fascinating. I'm not saying this will happen with all kids, but with this particular one, the quantity and the quality of work actually shot way, way up. It's just the way it unfolded. She's spending far longer now, very focused time, very disciplined time -- some of it on typical materials people here use, much of it her own choice.

 

This is how it went for us as well. Right before Ana's ninth grade year I was all a flutter and in a panic. It felt as though now everything must be uber-planned and perfectly coordinated.

 

She will be starting her Junior year this coming fall. I love high school. It's a beautiful thing to see a child turn into an adult and appreciate the enthusiasm with which they tackle high school. They swallow great gulps of information and then let it digest. They talk and talk and talk about IDEAS and THEORIES. Teens are amazing creatures. I'm so glad it worked out the way it did. I'm eager to see if the same transformation into being very self-directed and eager takes place in DS#2 as well. It would be so enjoyable to see him really take off and FLY! I'm getting little hints of it now as we approach his eighth grade year!

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This is how it went for us as well. Right before Ana's ninth grade year I was all a flutter and in a panic. It felt as though now everything must be uber-planned and perfectly coordinated.

 

She will be starting her Junior year this coming fall. I love high school. It's a beautiful thing to see a child turn into an adult and appreciate the enthusiasm with which they tackle high school. They swallow great gulps of information and then let it digest. They talk and talk and talk about IDEAS and THEORIES. Teens are amazing creatures. I'm so glad it worked out the way it did. I'm eager to see if the same transformation into being very self-directed and eager takes place in DS#2 as well. It would be so enjoyable to see him really take off and FLY! I'm getting little hints of it now as we approach his eighth grade year!

 

Ok, if you're jumping in on this, I'm gonna pick your brain! See I was reading your blog and old posts last night about how you did TOG, took a break from TOG where you let your dd pull together her own plans, and then were lusting again to go back to it. So what did you learn in that process? What kind of balance did you come to in your own mind on that walk between structure for you and the student chosing? And what did you conclude about age-appropriateness? When did this ability to spur for herself really bloom and how did you know it was happening?

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Responding to Doodler's fine post:

 

I think this topic is particularly relevant now in education because of the mixed messages we receive. So much depends on performance scores (on the one hand) yet students who crack the mold and create their own paths are placed on pedestals. Of course, we homeschooling parents who act as counselors must also create a transcript. There are regular threads on point systems for example--do I use a 4.0 or 5.0 or 6.0 (to distinguish honors or AP)?

 

My son attended a Montessori school through 6th grade which used an assessment system that was elaborate but gave great information to parents. Students who were being introduced to lessons received one score while students making progress on those lessons over time received a higher. Eventually mastery was achieved and that would be indicated on the report.

 

There was a huge problem though with students who left the Montessori for the public school system. The administrators there had no idea what the report meant. The best they could do was translate a "5" (mastery) to an A while someone who was only being introduced to the lessons would have a lower score interpreted as a C or less. Example: a student being introduced to division would not yet earn a "5" because he had yet to master division with remainders. But this did not mean that the student was only doing average work (whatever that means anyway) because division with remainders may not yet be appropriate for his situation.

 

My best friend is a public school teacher in a system that has decided to walk away from letter grades and give numeric grades that are sort of like but not as elaborate as the Montessori grades. She knows this will drive parents in her well heeled, suburban district batty. Apparently she and other teachers will have official numeric grades and under the table letter grades for parents. Back to asking what these grades mean anyway....

 

Do college admissions officials take mommy grades seriously? It seems that they usually want to see grades backed up with test scores, CC classes, AP. Does it really matter if we give grades? I don't know.

 

I do want to note that my son's LAC and another that was in our radar do not tie merit aid to a GPA of 3.5 as many colleges so. Both of these schools state that they want students to try classes that may be hard for them. By having a scholarship tied to a 3.5 or better, some students might limit themselves which is contrary to the point of a liberal arts education.

 

 

Jane

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I also highly value mistakes and false leads. Learning from mistakes or misunderstandings is one of the most powerful learning tools available to us, so it's tragic that all the emphasis these days is put on scores and grades to the extent that kids have no room to experiment, fail, re-assess, try again, etc.

 

This is important. It's hard not to step in sometimes and say "eht. wrong." Entrepreneurs have their own badge system that they earn by the number of failed businesses they've started:) I watched part of that video someone posted a month or so ago about math teachers in the US vs. Japan. The basic idea was - what could the students learn from getting the wrong answer in math? The Japanese teachers were asking, "tell us more about how you got the wrong answer. Can you explain why it doesn't work?", whereas the US teachers were saying "John got the wrong answer again. He's a problem to teach and needs remediation". I know I've been trapped in that mode of thinking (my dc is a problem to teach and needs remediation - how do I fix them?). So there is something more for me to ponder.

 

ETA: Here's a book that might be interesting to someone: Making Thinking Visible. It's got a range of quick, easy techniques for getting kids to demonstrate what they know without going into quizzes, tests, or full papers.

 

www.amazon.com/Making-Thinking-Visible-Understanding-Independence/dp/047091551X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341330261&sr=8-1&keywords=making+learning+visible

 

Looked at the preview on Amazon and love the first unit: Some Thinking About Thinking. LOL!

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2nd thought on the b&w, yes/no thing. I can tell you, as an excessively b&w person myself, that history is infinite and overwhelming. I need it streamlined, flowcharted, compartmentalized. It has to be something I can wrap my brain around in a very b&w way, or it doesn't make sense. If you teach it with some never-ending story method, it's not something that is clear to me. I love VP's approach for that. Everything is neat and tidy, organized into time periods and specific topics. Then from there you decide where rabbit trails fit.

 

Thanks! You've helped a ton! It reaffirms what I had guessed might work, but I worried that it lacked "rigor". But perhaps a few simple picture history books for framework mixed in with some museums, history reenactments, dvds, and cooking projects...along with a well defined research/writing assignment (or some other output) would go much further to connect in her brain than a thick bju textbook (although I love the looks of bju, all that text is overwhelming to her).

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Like you're saying, you may talk with your ds and find some things aren't as essential. On the other hand, sometimes when people give well-meaning advice about dropping something that "isn't going anywhere" they're missing the OTHER value the thing had. For instance my dd ice skated every day from K5-I forget what year. Olympic material? No. Good for her and enjoyable in other ways? Yes. Someone had told me to drop it down to 1 day a week because it wasn't going anywhere. In retrospect, I don't think that was the best advice. I think BUSY kids get more done than BORED kids.

 

They had a pretty narrow definition of anywhere, didn't they?

We've poured tons of time and money and missed family dinners into gymnastics all the time being relieved that nobody was going "anywhere" that was going to require them to have an overly narrow focus for most of their growing up. For some families and some children I am sure it is the right thing, but doing Olympic level gymnastics definately didn't match our family goals. Doing gymnastics, lots of gymnastics, in a less competative way definately did. It gave my children something that it would have been very hard for us to give them in our circumstances otherwise. The benefits were HUGE. And all the while we knew, they knew, and their coaches knew that this was not leading to the Olympics, the world championships, or college scholarships. I can see how someone might suggest dropping back to 1 day a week if they thought that by doing so the child might have room to develop another, more worthwhile-for-this-child interest (like music), or that the child wasn't benefiting from the activity in any way, but I think one has to be careful with advice like this.

 

Nan

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:iagree:Great post! The bold print above is just not mentioned enough. I have been re-reading several of my how to homeschool high school books and the exact opposite advice is consistently given. "look at the areas your Dc is likely to major in and the colleges your Dc might like to attend and plan your high school years to fulfill their requirements" or some similar statement is what I keep reading again and again.

 

I find this advice impossible. My Dc has no idea what he wants to do in college, let alone where he will attend (which, I imagine, may be driven by what major he wishes to pursue). I wonder if part of the pressure of planning high school comes from this idea that we somehow have to plan to accommodate some future version of your Dc who we do not even know yet, when what we should be doing is planning for the Dc we have before us now and leaving room to grow...

 

I have known where my sons were headed and I *still* found it impossible to follow that advice. The college requirements list is terribly narrow compared to my family's educational goals for high school. In the end (after much panic), I tossed up my hands and told my children that we were going to give them the education they (and we) wanted for them and then try to find a college that would accept them. I warned them that we were cutting down their choices, possibly drastically cutting down their choices. At the time, the educational opportunities that might cause problems (like peace-walking) seemed much more important both to them and to us than keeping their college options wide open. Besides, there was quite a lot of overlap between what colleges wanted and what we wanted, like learning to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, finishing a math book every year, being widely read, understanding how the natural world works (in other words, science) and aquiring a second language.

 

I remember so very clearly the disappointment and panic rollercoaster I rode when I first began planning high school and realized that we might have to sacrifice the advantages that homeschooling had been giving us and the opportunities to improve drastically (in non-academic ways - our school system does a better job than I do academically, much better) on the raising of our teenagers. I remember the relief when we decided that our own educational goals (one of which was to get our children through the teenage years ALIVE) were far more important than anything else and that it was ok to restrict their choices of colleges, that they were restricted anyway, already.

 

Nan

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I have been reading WTM as I have been reading this thread and have a few questions and thoughts. I realize WTM specifies a specific time period and suggested book list for history/listerature study, and it offers suggestions for science study, but doesn't WTM allow for interest-led learning in those subject areas? With WTM, the student makes decisions about the dates, individuals and events they want to study, and they make decisions about the essays they want to write. If the student has a particular interest/bent, wouldn't that show up in his choices for further research? Also, the chapter on junior and senior projects gives a general idea of the direction this intensive work could take; i.e. everything from history to sports. So, doesn't WTM provide for interest-led learning and teach the skills to accomplish it? I realize that for some families interest-led learning means the student decides on the big picture as well, but the proliferation of ready-made classical curriculum; i.e. TOG, Biblioplan, MFW, etc. shows that even the options in the WTM plan are more than most mothers can put into practice. This is certainly true for me. I enjoy reading posts by mothers who are planning every aspect of courses they plan to teach or leaving the planning up to their children, but just shifting away from packaged curriculum for history and literature using WTM guidelines is a big step for us.

 

I have watched over the years as people hesitated to make the leap from more structured to TWTM. I think many of those are people who have actually read and understood TWTM lol rather than just reading it as a list of textbooks and tasks. Yes, it takes guts to follow TWTM.

 

I keep saying that TWTM is half-way between a traditional textbook-based education and unschooling. And I keep saying that we are doing a WTM education despite there being a long list of things recommended in TWTM that we haven't done, mostly because my children weren't there educationally or because there isn't time to follow every track in TWTM to its endpoint.

 

Lisa - I have to laugh about your literature plans being scrapped for the classics. You are in good company. My youngest, after reading Farenheit 451 and hating it (I knew he would hate the style but felt he needed the references) and starting Brave New World and deciding the writing was lacking and balking at finishing, announced that he had just listened to The Iliad on his ipod (!!!) and why on earth were we bothering with badly written scifi, couldn't he just read The Aeneid and if I wanted him to read scifi, he would read some well-written scifi this summer (by well-written, he means Asimov and Orwell, lol, and of couse his beloved Hitchhikers Guide), but there are lots of great books he would rather read for school. So much for the plan of having him read scifi instead of moderns. I guess it is going to be more pre-moderns instead of moderns lol. He gave me a nice little argument about why he thought people liked these scifi selections at the time and why they were irrelivent (sorry - can't spell that) now, and thanked me for putting The Iliad on his ipod last time I transfered some of our CD collection, that he had enjoyed it even more this time round (he had read it previously when his brother did). This is why I don't make elaborate year-long lesson plans. I've done it a few times. I've devoted several weeks to making a lovely plan, only to have my children come up with something better. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why my son should read something other than more classical great books but for our family, this is perfect. We'll add a few Greek plays and that will be his English this year. I am not about to complain if TWTM, without my realizing it, brought my son up to prefer ancients. I had no idea when I chose TWTM how much it was going to mold my children. It assumed that you had a reading first grader, unlike any other curriculum I could find, and the early reading lists matched my family's childhood must-read lists, and the philosophy seemed to match, since it said that the goal was to teach children to teach themselves for the rest of their lives and to think for themselves. Culturally, it was a good match for my family. I think it is just as well that I didn't realize just how much influence it was going to have. I would have agonized over the choice and wondered if there was something better for my children, when all the while, this was just about perfect because it contained directions for how to modify it to fit my own family.

 

By the way, I may not have talked about it much, but my youngest has been doing those independent projects. He will have a number of them on his transcript. They have been a huge part of his high school education, a place where he developed and firmed up his academic skills. The topics were sometimes non-academic, but these particular projects were definately carried out in an academic manner (unlike lots of other things in his homeschooling). For example, one project was slight-of hand tricks. He learned them from a book, following written directions, practiced, developed his own versions, and then wrote a paper about his approach. Despite the non-academic seeming topic, the rest was exactly what TWTM taught him.

 

Nan

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... kids write the same basic types of papers over and over all four years: context papers, author papers, literary analysis...

 

Doesn't TWTM make other suggestions for the literary projects for each book at well? I think I remember a suggestion of making your own set designs for a play? This is how my children wound up doing things like drawing the circles of hell for Dante's Inferno and making a model reed boat for Gilgamesh and resetting a play in outer space. Not that I felt I needed TWTM to tell me it was ok to do something, but I lack experience in the realm of literature so the suggestions were useful.

 

Not that I don't agree that TWTM is mostly reading/writing based. It has a heavy emphasis on developing traditional academic skills. As someone whose children were not born naturally gifted in this area and had specifically to learn those skills because their own goals were going to require them, I have appreciated this greatly. Someone whose children were able to pick up these skills more easily or whose children were not going to need them as much might well be better off doing something different.

 

Nan

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...You know to me, and I'll open a HUGE can of worms here, the one thing that really bugs me about what I read in WTM for the high school level (and I was reading HoAW this weekend, which is what I'm basing this on) is that it's education without responsibility. There's no accountability on what to DO with the information or what the CONSEQUENCES are of the information or the higher wisdom we should GAIN by studying the materials. It's just thing after thing. Occasionally she pulls wisdom out in HoAW. I actually liked it more than I imagined I would. I think she has done fascinating things with it. However once you say you want those discussions about wisdom and consequences and what it means and what the implications are, then the mom needs a lot more help, kwim? And I don't actually see that happening in straight WTM, not unless the mom is bringing WAY more to the table than I am, lol.

 

Like I said, a can of worms. But it's another reason why I don't just want to launch off into utter lala land, because the WHY behind the information matters to me as much as the information itself.

 

But but but...

 

Thank goodness it doesn't! There is no way I could use TWTM/TWEM if it tried to relate the information to a specific set of beliefs. It is a good cultural match for my family but I need a curriculum that leaves my children free to be shaped by their growing knowledge. Is it really such a struggle to make the knowledge your children are aquiring line up with their morals? I feel like I am missing something here because so far, this has been very easy for us. It isn't as though they thought they had to agreed completely with everything they read...

 

(I guess I am jumping right into your can of worms...)

 

Nan

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