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LAmom

Question for those that like Circe, etc.

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What would be wrong with that? 

 

You are not an uneducated woman. Your husband is not an uneducated man. I know that you are constantly self educating, and that you have exceptional possibilities around you. 

 

I think that it would be an amazing year for you. 

 

I agree that the year could be great, if we get into a good routine.  My concern is for the longer term.  Neither of us has the languages or background knowledge to even start to go ad fontes, either in the classical or Christian sense.  And I do think that makes us sort of uneducated, compared to what we could have been learning in so many years of schooling.   

 

For myself, I think that with some more studying, I could give the children a "good English education" according to the criteria of late Victorian liberal/lapsed Protestants.   DH could do scientific and technical with a smattering of modern history and literature.  Perhaps not so coincidentally, those are the sorts of education we received in our respective countries.  The schools were doing the job of teaching according to their values.  It's the values that were off. 

 

The lack of patristics and Church history is a lot more serious to me than the lack of pagan classics, but I'm hoping we can take steps toward learning about both.  I had a bit of a surprise recently when I saw that St. Thomas quoted Sallust, the Roman historian.  Sallust isn't talked about much these days, and his writings don't tend to show up on "Great Books" lists, but they were very commonly found on the course of study at classical grammar schools.  

 

In this article [ETA:  sorry forgot the link!], Martin Cothran quotes Climbing Parnassus: “Americans view the Founding Fathers in vacuo, isolated from the soil that nurtured them," especially "the pulpit and the schoolroom.† The same could be said of the way some self-described Thomists in the 20th century (including educational reformers, both "progressivist" and "Great Books") viewed St. Thomas.  But I'm sure he would have been the first to correct them.  

 

What do you get if you stand on the shoulders of someone who stood on the shoulders of someone who stood on the shoulders of giants?  Well, it could work.  Or you could just collapse in a heap, like some sort of demented circus act.   :biggrinjester:    :leaving:

 

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What do you get if you stand on the shoulders of someone who stood on the shoulders of someone who stood on the shoulders of giants?  Well, it could work.  Or you could just collapse in a heap, like some sort of demented circus act.   :biggrinjester:    :leaving:

 

But isn't this all we are capable of doing right now, anyway? I wish I could give my kids a truly classical education, but I can only give them portions of it. However, I am still giving them a leg up onto the shoulders because I am giving them more than I had. We can recover it, but it may take more than one generation, and that's ok, no? It might have to be, because it's all I can do. God will have to show Himself strong on my behalf, as I am trying as hard as I can, and doing it to the best of my abilities. I have to trust that He is filling in for me. Meanwhile, I will have a lot to help my grandchildren with, and I won't have to backfill as I have for my own children. 

What if you got a binder, tabbed it for each of your kids, and then wrote down what you are happy with in their education, and where you see they need growth. This will be different for each, obviously. Then, from there, write out how you could possibly accomplish that. 

 

I'm reading The Living Page and gaining a lot of ideas from it, and if you do this experiment, you might want to try some of them. They might really work well in that situation. (I am loving this book! It is really helping me coalesce some of my more misty thoughts on how to go about teaching these kids, and it's one of the better books on CM I've read)

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But isn't this all we are capable of doing right now, anyway? I wish I could give my kids a truly classical education, but I can only give them portions of it. However, I am still giving them a leg up onto the shoulders because I am giving them more than I had. We can recover it, but it may take more than one generation, and that's ok, no? 

 

I think the question is, are we heading in the right direction to recover it?   Towards the "giants," and the heritage of content and pedagogy that they've left us?

 

Or are we taking fundamentally modern ideas about the main purposes of elementary and secondary education (e.g., as an individualistic opportunity for personal growth, or as an ideological tool for re-shaping the social order, or as a "practice stage" for whatever the universities are expecting), and putting a classical, Christian, or literary veneer on them?

 

CiRCE has so many different things on their site that I can't say for sure where they're heading.  But some of it does seem to be in the latter category.  

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I think the question is, are we heading in the right direction to recover it?   Towards the "giants," and the heritage of content and pedagogy that they've left us?

 

Or are we taking fundamentally modern ideas about the main purposes of elementary and secondary education (e.g., as an individualistic opportunity for personal growth, or as an ideological tool for re-shaping the social order, or as a "practice stage" for whatever the universities are expecting), and putting a classical, Christian, or literary veneer on them?

 

CiRCE has so many different things on their site that I can't say for sure where they're heading.  But some of it does seem to be in the latter category.  

 

I think it's bound to be in the latter category given who they are. They're basically a group of consultants. They are giving their market (private Christian schools) what the market wants.

 

The issue I see with any group like Circe is that they are not obedient to anyone. They're not beholden to anything beyond their own opinions. What you posted her about the Jesuits was very different because their Ratio was created by men who lived in obedience to a Rule and to their superiors.

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I think the question is, are we heading in the right direction to recover it?   Towards the "giants," and the heritage of content and pedagogy that they've left us?

 

Or are we taking fundamentally modern ideas about the main purposes of elementary and secondary education (e.g., as an individualistic opportunity for personal growth, or as an ideological tool for re-shaping the social order, or as a "practice stage" for whatever the universities are expecting), and putting a classical, Christian, or literary veneer on them?

 

CiRCE has so many different things on their site that I can't say for sure where they're heading.  But some of it does seem to be in the latter category.  

 

I guess a lot of that doesn't bother me because I know that whatever I can do is already so far from the pure, that I have to settle with the idea that this is all I can do. I'm not even sure I'm heading there the right way, but I'm not looking to do this perfectly, either. I have MY kids and my own education and we're doing the best we can, and working hard for it. 

 

I don't see CiRCE as reshaping the social order, or as a practice stage, or putting veneers on anything, I just see them as one idea as to how to recapture what we've lost, perhaps a portion of that whole. 

 

 

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I guess a lot of that doesn't bother me because I know that whatever I can do is already so far from the pure, that I have to settle with the idea that this is all I can do. I'm not even sure I'm heading there the right way, but I'm not looking to do this perfectly, either. I have MY kids and my own education and we're doing the best we can, and working hard for it. 

 

 

I agree with this.   This is how I view our journey as well.    

 

As for the part I didn't quote, I have realized from this thread and from the other ones that I probably shouldn't actually ever say that I am influenced by Circe.  ;)   I am just so far removed from seeing any one or thing as dominating my philosophy other than being guided by what I personally (and faithfully) believe is right that I am clueless to many of the ideas of "following" something.  I can't begin to relate to elevating the ideas to that kind of level.   They are ideas to ponder and percolate and mold into my own, but not to simply follow.

 

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I agree with this.   This is how I view our journey as well.    

 

As for the part I didn't quote, I have realized from this thread and from the other ones that I probably shouldn't actually ever say that I am influenced by Circe.  ;)   I am just so far removed from seeing any one or thing as dominating my philosophy other than being guided by what I personally (and faithfully) believe is right that I am clueless to many of the ideas of "following" something.  I can't begin to relate to elevating the ideas to that kind of level.   They are ideas to ponder and percolate and mold into my own, but not to simply follow.

 

I couldn't quite figure out how to say that (what I bolded in your quote) but yes. And I think that pinpoints a lot as to how many of us come at this so differently. I can't relate to elevating the ideas to that level, either. 

 

 

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I agree with this. This is how I view our journey as well.

 

As for the part I didn't quote, I have realized from this thread and from the other ones that I probably shouldn't actually ever say that I am influenced by Circe. ;) I am just so far removed from seeing any one or thing as dominating my philosophy other than being guided by what I personally (and faithfully) believe is right that I am clueless to many of the ideas of "following" something. I can't begin to relate to elevating the ideas to that kind of level. They are ideas to ponder and percolate and mold into my own, but not to simply follow.

 

 

 

I agree with this. I really look on Circe and on many other sources as starting points and fodder for things to ponder rather than as a plan telling me how and when I ought to do xyz.

 

I think the best thing I've pulled from Circe and from all the discussion here over the past couple years is that my own education is not over. I am thrilled about that (major understatement)! I feel like the more I learn myself, the better I can help my kids along.

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I couldn't quite figure out how to say that (what I bolded in your quote) but yes. And I think that pinpoints a lot as to how many of us come at this so differently. I can't relate to elevating the ideas to that level, either. 

 

 

I had a whole reply typed out, but it got eaten.  Summary version:  

 

1) For some of us, the constant, growing awareness of what's been lost in Western education and culture in the last 150-ish years or more -- in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes -- is an integral part of our homeschool journey.  It's not about perfectionism, or despair, or anxiety.   It just is.   And we can't set it aside.  

 

Maybe this is a weakness, and we should just be more detached and pragmatic.  

 

Or maybe it's a strength, in that we're confident (or strange) enough to be able to live with this awareness on an ongoing basis without feeling personally bad about ourselves and our children, so maybe we'll be able to do something about it.  

 

Who knows.   :001_smile:

 

2) I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't "follow" CiRCE, or "elevate" their ideas.  My appreciation of them (which is pretty limited) comes from the times when they happen to share ideas that I've absorbed elsewhere, from much more reliable sources.

 

 

I don't see CiRCE as reshaping the social order, or as a practice stage, or putting veneers on anything, I just see them as one idea as to how to recapture what we've lost, perhaps a portion of that whole. 

 

That's an interesting way of putting it.  What do you see as the "one idea?"

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I had a whole reply typed out, but it got eaten.  Summary version:  

 

1) For some of us, the constant, growing awareness of what's been lost in Western education and culture in the last 150-ish years or more -- in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes -- is an integral part of our homeschool journey.  It's not about perfectionism, or despair, or anxiety.   It just is.   And we can't set it aside.  

 

Maybe this is a weakness, and we should just be more detached and pragmatic.  

 

Or maybe it's a strength, in that we're confident (or strange) enough to be able to live with this awareness on an ongoing basis without feeling personally bad about ourselves and our children, so maybe we'll be able to do something about it.  

 

Who knows.   :001_smile:

 

2) I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't "follow" CiRCE, or "elevate" their ideas.  My appreciation of them (which is pretty limited) comes from the times when they happen to share ideas that I've absorbed elsewhere, from much more reliable sources.

 

 

 

That's an interesting way of putting it.  What is the "one idea?"

 

1. Very true. I am still learning about that, but I also can't be responsible for what I don't know, and I also can't make it happen immediately because I read it. It takes time. With me it's an organic process and it will take more than just me to bring it to pass, though I'd like to be a part of it. Until then, it IS an ideal, and we work toward it. That might happen when my last one is a senior in high school though, and I have to be OK with that. 

 

2. When I found CiRCE I wasn't even Catholic yet, so I don't know those other sources, though I do come across them now. However, I am glad that CiRCE points to them. I'm glad to other companies that point to them. Using something as a starting point is not a bad thing, is it? That Liturgical video is old to someone who is in a liturgical church, but to someone who has never before encountered liturgy, it was a wonderful way to point to why a liturgy is useful and what is beautiful about it. I see the same with CiRCE. 

 

Well, I see TWTM as another idea of how to go about retrieving parts of a  classical education. Classical Academic Press is another. "Here comes everybody." I don't think that one company will will be The Way, I think that they all might hold a piece of the puzzle. Thankfully as a parent, and not espoused to one idea, I get to pick and choose what I see as the best fit and the most doable for my family. 

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2. When I found CiRCE I wasn't even Catholic yet, so I don't know those other sources, though I do come across them now. 

 

I was thinking mainly of scholarly historical sources.  Many of these aren't specifically about Catholic education.  They're not too hard to find, once you start looking for them and following the rabbit trails of footnotes (though it would certainly help to have access to a university library).

 

CiRCE has very little on their site about the history of education, and what they do have tends to be vague and lacking in references.  Which is kind of weird, given that they're supposed to be trying to help people to understand and restore traditions.   Andrew Kern does recommend Marrou's History of Education in Antiquity, which is an excellent book -- but it doesn't say much about Christian education, since it's about ancient times.  

 

Looking through their resource pages, it's as if they almost blip right over the 1500 years of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant classical schools between St. Augustine and John Dewey.  Do they think the Christians who were teaching for all those centuries just banjaxed the whole thing?   :confused:

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I was thinking mainly of scholarly historical sources.  Many of these aren't specifically about Catholic education.  They're not too hard to find, once you start looking for them and following the rabbit trails of footnotes (though it would certainly help to have access to a university library).

 

CiRCE has very little on their site about the history of education, and what they do have tends to be vague and lacking in references.  Which is kind of weird, given that they're supposed to be trying to help people to understand and restore traditions.   Andrew Kern does recommend Marrou's History of Education in Antiquity, which is an excellent book -- but it doesn't say much about Christian education, since it's about ancient times.  

 

Looking through their resource pages, it's as if they almost blip right over the 1500 years of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant classical schools between St. Augustine and John Dewey.  Do they think the Christians who were teaching for all those centuries just banjaxed the whole thing?   :confused:

Yes, but they also support Richard Gamble's The Great Tradition, which is about all of that? 

 

 

"The Great Tradition provides a treasury of insights into Western education that no school leadership can afford to ignore. Something will speak to everybody with a mildly curious mind: headmasters who want help with the curriculum (Quintilian), parents who want to raise wise and virtuous children (Chrysostom), lovers of the classics (Philip Melanchthon), students setting life goals (Basil The Great), teachers who want help focusing their efforts (Aristotle), the historically curious (from Plato to C. S. Lewis), and board members setting priorities (Paul Elmer More). Every now and then someone does the world the invaluable favor of reminding us how we got here and what we’ve left behind. Richard M. Gamble has done so for a new generation."

— Andrew Kern, President, CiRCE Institute, and coauthor of Classical Education, The Movement Sweeping America

 

 

I don't expect them to have links on all of that. It's not what they're doing? They're not teaching the history of it, they're trying to change what they can with both private schools and help homeschoolers. 

 

I don't think I've seen what you are talking about on ANY homeschooling curric/site/group. I don't remember reading about it in LCC? 

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I was just describing some of the sources I've been looking at, not saying CiRCE should list all of them.   :001_smile:  But I think it would make sense for them to give references for the ideas that they're promoting most intensively.   

 

I don't think I've seen what you are talking about on ANY homeschooling curric/site/group. I don't remember reading about it in LCC? 

 

No, there isn't much along those lines in LCC.  It seems to be built more on DIY and guesswork than on serious research.  

 

I think part of the issue is that the neo-classical education movement got going before people had much access to the Internet, and especially to easily searchable databases of online e-books and cheap used books.   Once something got published, other people would flock to it, because there just wasn't that much available.  (Someone just mentioned this in another thread, regarding Charlotte Mason.)   

 

The situation has changed a lot in the last few years; we have loads of old books and bibliographies available.  But I don't know if most people are interested.   Look at the small response to threads about topics in the history of education, and compare them to the multiple-page threads full of excitement about some new ready-made curriculum.   

 

About the only time threads about old books really take off is when people are talking about racism, etc.  And this is on the #1 online classical education board.  Kind of a bleak thought.   :unsure:

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I was just describing some of the sources I've been looking at, not saying CiRCE should list all of them. :001_smile: But I think it would make sense for them to give references for the ideas that they're promoting most intensively.

 

No, there isn't much along those lines in LCC. It seems to be built more on DIY and guesswork than on serious research.

 

I think part of the issue is that the neo-classical education movement got going before people had much access to the Internet, and especially to easily searchable databases of online e-books and cheap used books. Once something got published, other people would flock to it, because there just wasn't that much available. (Someone just mentioned this in another thread, regarding Charlotte Mason.)

 

The situation has changed a lot in the last few years; we have loads of old books and bibliographies available. But I don't know if most people are interested. Look at the small response to threads about topics in the history of education, and compare them to the multiple-page threads full of excitement about some new ready-made curriculum.

 

About the only time threads about old books really take off is when people are talking about racism, etc. And this is on the #1 online classical education board. Kind of a bleak thought. :unsure:

I agree that there aren't many people really interested. I enjoy researching educational methodologies. I enjoy things like reading the Ratio, etc. but most people just want something presented in a way they can simply pick up and use and accept its validity wo questioning.

 

It is why people really believe cyclical history is classical or why rote memorization of facts like CC is what represents classical education for young children.

 

Every once and a while, there are discussions that are really interesting to me and spur me on to research more. But, no, I don't ever expect anyone to want to read the same things I do. But then again, there are people that spend time reading things like psy research on things like right brained and left brained learners or intelligences that make me yawn. :). If those ideas help them be better teachers, then it is doing for them what I read does for me.

 

My goal isn't to restore anything. My goal is to provide my kids the best education I can offer. My view is that real classical ed and the Jesuits in the 1500-1600 hundreds had it right. A poor imitation of those ideas is the closest I can get. But, the knowledge of what that really was has given me confidence of what i can completely ignore as necessary.....which is the exact same thing that many people value as core. But, hey, that's ok. We share a common desire for something better.

 

I just don't view this board as a site for serious discussion on classical education, but educational ideas for homeschooling in general.

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justamouse, on 13 Apr 2014 - 12:25 AM, said:snapback.png

 

I am relaxed because I am well prepared. I have done my job, and I am not that often caught unaware. I am confident because I am well prepared. I am in a state of rest because I have done my part, and I know God will show up for the day. I know that even with mistakes, He writes straight with crooked lines, and that as long as I'm doing my part in good faith and to the best of my ability, God will fill in my gaps.

 

 

Amen to all of that! You are even better than I.

 

I can't even claim this part of- 'I'm well prepared'. Thou I will trust God knows what's best for my children even though *I* fail miserably day in and out. So I can relax with that- as *He* is the overseer of all: both the good and bad. I hand it all to Him, but try and do my best for my dd. I too, believe God will honor our commitment to our family. We serve an Almighty King!!! AMEN!!!

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I just don't view this board as a site for serious discussion on classical education, but educational ideas for homeschooling in general.

 

I guess I've always held out the hope that CiRCE would turn into that site.  They used to present their mission as "research and advocacy for classical education."  But now it seems more like "trying to find the principles of education that we can derive from seeking to know God."

 

This concerns me on a very basic level, because I think abstract principles stink as a way to create a curriculum.  I really do.  There are just so many examples of absolute rubbish being foisted on children, because it seemed to follow logically from a set of ideals that looked great on paper.  The only person who came close to pulling this off was Montessori, and the "abstract principle" she started with was simply the scientific method -- i.e., practical experimentation and observation of the child.  

 

On top of that, there's the fuzzifying of language, so that "classical education" is used as a synonym for "true, good, beautiful, virtue-driven education for all people, at all stages of life."  The net result is that we can't use the term in a more specific way, because people will get upset.  This has been shown over and over in these threads.  No amount of disclaimers will get around it, because the fear of exclusion is so strong.  At best, we end up with two parallel conversations.    

 

I think this means I'm permanently done with the CiRCE threads.  There are still posts and topics that interest me on their site, but I'm going to stick with discussing them on their own terms, not as part of some larger educational movement (which, whatever it is, is evidently not my thing).  

 

Still, it's been a very interesting and fruitful two years, one way and another.   :001_smile:  See you around.   :001_smile:   

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I just don't view this board as a site for serious discussion on classical education, but educational ideas for homeschooling in general.

 

Is there a place for serious discussion on classical education? I am interested in learning about it and I agree that when the topic comes up here it does get confused with other things.

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I guess I've always held out the hope that CiRCE would turn into that site.  They used to present their mission as "research and advocacy for classical education."  But now it seems more like "trying to find the principles of education that we can derive from seeking to know God."

 

This concerns me on a very basic level, because I think abstract principles stink as a way to create a curriculum.  I really do.  There are just so many examples of absolute rubbish being foisted on children, because it seemed to follow logically from a set of ideals that looked great on paper.  The only person who came close to pulling this off was Montessori, and the "abstract principle" she started with was simply the scientific method -- i.e., practical experimentation and observation of the child.  

 

On top of that, there's the fuzzifying of language, so that "classical education" is used as a synonym for "true, good, beautiful, virtue-driven education for all people, at all stages of life."  The net result is that we can't use the term in a more specific way, because people will get upset.  This has been shown over and over in these threads.  No amount of disclaimers will get around it, because the fear of exclusion is so strong.  At best, we end up with two parallel conversations.    

 

I think this means I'm permanently done with the CiRCE threads.  There are still posts and topics that interest me on their site, but I'm going to stick with discussing them on their own terms, not as part of some larger educational movement (which, whatever it is, is evidently not my thing).  

 

Still, it's been a very interesting and fruitful two years, one way and another.   :001_smile:  See you around.   :001_smile:   

I don't have the expectations you do. 

 

Did yo rever look at CLAA? http://wmclaa.wordpress.com

 

This article is right up your alley. Don't be Duped.

 

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Did yo rever look at CLAA? http://wmclaa.wordpress.com

 

This article is right up your alley. Don't be Duped.

 

Um, you're not kidding, are you?  I'm pretty sure we've talked about this.  

 

If not, there were quite a lot of threads on here (and other HS boards) on the subject, a few years ago.  8FilltheHeart and I were among the posters.  

 

Suffice it to say, it's not right up my alley at all.  But trying to evaluate all those claims was the trigger for a lot of the stuff I've learned.  

 

(I think he or one of his fans must be lurking on these boards.  It seems that he posted the 1987 Wilhelmsen essay on his Facebook, a couple of days after I posted it here.  Which is funny, because if you actually read it, it's no more favorable toward what he's offering than it is toward the Great Books.)

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I actually don't remember discussions about CLAA at all, so I'm sorry. I'll look up the threads. (They've never been much on my radar because of my distaste for the director)

I do think a lot of his fans are on this board. 

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One thing I think that is key to any of these conversations is that ultimately it boils down to having trust in yourself that you can provide the education you envision. I was at a homeschool meeting last night and most of the moms were new homeschoolers. The anxiety and overwhelmed emotions were high. It seemed the intensity of the feelings came from comparing themselves to schools and wanting similar to school output.

 

Teaching from your core educational values and meeting your objectives puts you in the drivers seat and controlling the direction vs. feeling like you are lost and constantly feeling like you need to find someone else's directions to make sure you aren't lost (or wrong by their definition.)

 

Believing in yourself and that you can forge a solid educational path for your kids and that schools do not have the answer or need to be replicated is the real starting place.

 

 

I love this, I think this clarifies the "teaching from a state of rest" thing so much. Thank you.

 

OP, I'm currently musing on the exact same things. 

 

8FilltheHeart, I'm like you, I love reading about educational methodologies. And I agree that in general the WTM forum isn't the ideal place for those bigger conversations. Too many people here and you're right, a lot are just in the nitty gritty trying to get that 6 year old to figure out phonics or keep the high schooler on track while keeping up with the laundry :) And I'm there too I suppose but I also like to retreat into the world of ideas and ideals to refresh myself and bring a focus back to our homeschooling. Without it I am often overtaken with the tyranny of the urgent...as Susan Wise Bauer mentions in her talk on educating ourselves while we educate our children. 

 

Of course marrying those big ideas to the nitty gritty is where I kind of fall flat. :) I suppose that's exactly where the OP is too. And I suspect there is a decent group of us in the exact same place.

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I keep trying to post in this thread, but by the time I catch up with all the other posts, I have used up all my board time. 

 

Keri, I can give you specifics.  I am very much into helping people find how to practically implement goals. 

 

First of all, I think that teaching from a place of rest, can also be interpreted as authentic learning.  And I bet that you have experienced authentic learning in your own life, as well as tick the box learning.  With authentic learning, you know *what* you want to learn, you have a *method* that is effective for you, and you have the *motivation* and *self discipline* to implement it. Often with this type of learning, you get in the 'zone' and *engage* with the material, fighting for understanding.  With tick-the-box learning, you often feel annoyed with having to do it, you keep looking at the time, you know that some of the work will help you learn the material but as a whole it just doesn't 'click' with your needs at the time or your learning style or whatever.  If you can identify the difference between these two styles, then you should be able to see them in your children.  Obviously, you want the authentic learning.

 

Now, every person has a different way to learn.  I'm not talking about aural or kinaesthetic learners.  I think that is a bit gimmicky.  Instead, I think it is much more useful to think about the family unit in a homeschool.  How can you make learning authentic for *your* family and its quirkiness.  Authentic learning needs to have strong guiding principles (which this thread keeps describing) which concurrently plans for the students' needs and the teacher's needs.  Some kids need a lot of parental interaction, whereas others like to learn independently.  Some kids like to do hands on activities but others hate them. etc Then you need to put the overlay of the parent's needs.  How much time do you have?  How much energy? How many kids? Clearly, there will be some give and take here.  To meet your goals you need to consider these things as a whole, and choose some subjects with curriculum that is authentic to *your* kids, and possibly develop some courses on your own.  But the key is that you consider your goals and limitations and what is authentic to your individual student, *before* you choose a curriculum for each subject.  That is how you avoid tick-the-box learning.

 

Have you ever read any of the threads that have asked for my help with science?  People come in with basically a tick-the-box question -- what curriculum should I use?  And I turn it around into a authentic-learning planning session.  I always ask the same questions, because you cannot create an authentic learning environment without looking at the big picture.  Although I do it for science, you can use the same process for any subject.  My questions usually are something like:

 

1) what are your goals?  content goals? skill goals?  attitude goals?  If you don't have any, you should start looking at other's goals.  Do some research and develop an opinion. Ask here.

 

2) What has worked for your student in the past?  basically, when have you seen authentic learning in your student and what, specifically, allowed it to happen? interaction with you? reading? hands-on?  going deep vs going broad? etc It is incredibly important to use past successes to plan future learning.

 

3) How much time do you as a teacher have to give?  This is just a practicality question.  Your availability limits your choices, and you have to be realistic. 

 

4) What kind of schedule and oversight has worked in the past?  All learning requires some time management.  So you have to plan this in so that your student is kept accountable. Also, how much time is available insures that you don't over schedule work, making it into a rush to tick the boxes.  Kids need time to work authentically.

 

5) a) What kind of output will help your student to process the material?  b )What kind of output do *you* want to see for your own sense of security?  c) What kind of output is required by the state?  you need to really think about this, because a student's output needs to be useful to make learning authentic.  Some people focus way too much on b and c, at the expense of a.  You need to find a balance for the competing interests.

 

6) Finally, what curriculum, set of books, online class, home-made class fits the above?  This is the *last* step, NOT the first step.  If you pick the curriculum as the first and only step, you are like to just be ticking the boxes.  Authentic learning will be much harder to accomplish because your needs and your students' needs are not likely to be met by chance.  And it becomes an uphill battle.

 

I can dig up examples of these planning sessions if you would like.  I have helped about 15 different people develop a individualized plan for authentic learning in science.  And what is really amazing, is that every.single.one of the plans is VERY different from the other. 

 

When experienced homeschoolers post about their planning sessions, where they create individualized plans for their students that allow for authentic learning, it appears to me that this process is going on in the background, intuitively and without any conscious thought. Excellent teachers just do it and don't realize it. 

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

 

I was just reviewing some of your old posts, Ruth, and then I came back to this one. I had not read your posts before on setting goals and then making choice as to curriculum, etc. Boy, have I missed out on a TON of great advice. You have really broken down the process in a way that is easy to understand and to follow. Brilliant! Thank you!

 

(I have read a lot of homeschool books in the past. In many ways, I feel like everything has been said before. I do not even read the new ones anymore. However, I do agree with the others that are clamoring for you to write a book. I do believe that you have something to offer the homeschool community that is unique and would fill a gap that currently exists. Even people who intuit how to teach well do not often know how to explain it to others. You do an excellent job of explaining it!)

 

 

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