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When we talk about raising children to be autodidacts...


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What is the path you would follow?  What ages and stages, how to monitor for understanding, and what subjects are better with a teacher (lit analysis, I'm thinking of you)?

 

My son is going into fourth, which I realize is quite young.  But I have three others behind him, and when I think about what homeschooling high school level sciences, languages, etc requires, I realize that it's only going to be possible if he is almost entirely autodidact by that age.  

 

I am thinking that 6-8th grades should be a gradual movement to independent studies.  I've read Lewelma's (IIRC) great posts on teaching to use a textbook independently, and we are lucky to now have access to MOOCs like The Great Courses and Coursera and the like, so I certainly think it's possible.  

 

What I want to know is, how have you taken your kids from dependent to independent.  Was is a conscious and explicit process?  Was it more of a natural letting go?  How did it work for you?  

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For us, it was not an intentional process, it just happened naturally.

I pulled my kids out of school in 5th/6th grades, respectively.

For the middle grades, we very much did interest based learning - they had a lot of input into what they wanted to study. I never "taught", I facilitated by finding materials and being a discussion partner. We used a math curriculum that was written to the student and intended for use without an instructor (AoPS). In high school, they are largely independent.

I think what helped was to honor their natural curiosity, model learning as a lifelong process that is independent of "school", giving them time to pursue their interests, and offering them academic challenges at their level.

 

ETA: A word of caution: even if the teenager is academically ready to learn as an autodidact, he may require parental oversight and motivation. Several parents on the Highschool Board reported that their young teens, especially boys, needed more oversight than at a younger age, to make sure work is done and no corners cut. The idea of the independent learner who can be left to his own devices all day is, largely, a myth.

Edited by regentrude
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I'm with Regentrude.  I love reading books by someone with one or two kids who tells us how EVERY kid would turn out if we just did what they did.  I remember getting REALLY FRUSTRATED when my dd hit 4th grade and wasn't self-teaching everything the way this one "expert" book said.  Now I look back and realize kids just vary and that it's ok.

 

So good luck on the autodidcat thing.  My dd is self-driven for anything she's self-driven on, and she requires structure for anything she's not.  Her ability to work within that structure and manage on her own is reflective of her executive function, and that really blossomed this year.  I think if you want that independence before the maturity is there, you have to compromise on the materials.  And that of course is your call on what you value, what you're willing to let go down to the level of what they can do on their own, etc.

 

I really think the whole independence thing is overblown.  The years are so short.  My dd will graduate next year, and I can say it went by VERY quickly.  It actually makes me very stressed with ds, because I know that everything I'm NOT getting done now pinches something later.  It's over very quickly.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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My mother was not highly educated, but she managed to turn out autodidacts by teaching us to be curious.

 

As always, adore.  But why are there never like buttons on your posts?  It's only your posts, not anybody else's.  You're special or something, lol.

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I really think the whole independence thing is overblown.  The years are so short.  My dd will graduate next year, and I can say it went by VERY quickly.

 

But the independence should definitely be the goal at the end of high school. Otherwise, the student will not be successful at college.

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For us, it was not an intentional process, it just happened naturally.

I pulled my kids out of school in 5th/6th grades, respectively.

For the middle grades, we very much did interest based learning - they had a lot of input into what they wanted to study. I never "taught", I facilitated by finding materials and being a discussion partner. We used a math curriculum that was written to the student and intended for use without an instructor (AoPS). In high school, they are largely independent.

I think what helped was to honor their natural curiosity, model learning as a lifelong process that is independent of "school", giving them time to pursue their interests, and offering them academic challenges at their level.

 

ETA: A word of caution: even if the teenager is academically ready to learn as an autodidact, he may require parental oversight and motivation. Several parents on the Highschool Board reported that their young teens, especially boys, needed more oversight than at a younger age, to make sure work is done and no corners cut. The idea of the independent learner who can be left to his own devices all day is, largely, a myth.

 

This will save me a bit of writing if I can just add the  :iagree: emoticon.  ;)

 

All of this comes totally naturally to our family.  Our boys have picked (most) of it up too.  But I'm not sure I can teach others how to do it.  It's a lifestyle and genetics might come into play.  I'm positive our travel helped as it exposed them to so much on our planet and inspired curiosity and the desire to make/keep things better.

 

At ps with other people's kids I get success by building a team attitude and then having expectations that it's done - no words - just expectations that they are keeping up their end of the team.  I rarely use discipline of any sort (dealing with high schoolers).  The relationship I build with the students makes them want to please and almost all do.  Some even add the peer pressure and/or study help to their peers who don't keep up.  It's kind of neat to watch TBH.  If I were a dictator "forcing" things I wouldn't get anywhere near the same results.  That's when learning is "work."  In my classes, it's rarely work.  It's filling curiosity about our world - expanding the brain.  We share what we learn.  I can learn a bit from the kids with their interests.

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My mother structured our days, but we had to teach ourselves. For me that was a definite start time, a stack of books, and a lesson planner I wrote out myself and she checked. She checked my planner not my work. It was my responsibilty to learn.

 

For my adhd brother that was a prepared environment that eliminated any distractions, a definite start time, scheduled breaks, teaching him to use a timer for every. single. assignment, and sitting nearby to remind him to keep working.

By high school he finally learned to manage his own time. He is working on his second doctorate using the same structure my mother taught him.

I talked to him recently and he doesn't give mom credit for any of it because she couldn't do the academics. He doesn't see the things he does every day that she trained him to do. He still does things as if she were there and he doesn't even see it!

Edited to add: Mom always taught us to do the worst thing first. That ensured math got done at our house. It's funny how that sicks with you. I still eat my veggies first and always eat the crust off my sandwich first. Ha ha

Edited by shadah
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I think a lot of it depends on the temperament of the kid. My oldest (who I am homeschooling) just finished 6th. And I have to check every. single.thing.he.does. Everything. I have to sit beside him doing his math on TT to make sure he actually does the problems and doesn't just guess and work the system. He's not interested in school. He struggles in school. My oldest daughter is a box checker. She'll do her work, but she's not really interested in learning anything. So, if I want her to learn something, I have to go over the material with her. My middle dd, who just finished first grade, loves to read and is practically independent in her CLE coursework already. And she struggles at times, too. So, it's not like learning problems have a lot to do with it.

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DS11 is the kind that as long as he has a timetable and checklist, he is good as long as he can call me over when he needs help. He is a classic public school kid. He is very structure driven and used to meltdown if we don't have a plan or deviate from the agreed plan.

 

DS10 has to be explicitly taught life skills/executive functions skills. Like homework planning, project planning, understanding and following deadlines, making sure bag is packed for outside class. For example before he start his math homework, he would get his book, writing paper, pencil, eraser so that he doesn't need to stop to get something he need. For german class today, he had to make sure his textbook, workbook, binder and pencil box are in his backpack yesterday night before bed. He also needs a timer as he has no sense of time. So if I want him to spend only an hour on math then go take a break, I would need to set the timer to ring after an hour. Else he would just work on math until I remind him to stop. For him, having a planner and everything has its place helps a lot. Else I would have to do a lot of reminding of what his tasks is and where his things are.

 

ETA:

If you are talking about autodidacts as in self taught without prompting, my kids would do no formal history or literature or writing. They will be extremely asynchronous. I can definately blame genetics for that :lol:

Edited by Arcadia
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It happened naturally for my kids too.  But, we talked a lot about a lot of different things as they were growing up.  We asked a lot of questions in day-to-day conversations, sometimes regarding controversial topics, and studied new things we heard about in the news (in science, historical discoveries, etc.).  I guess it got our kids into the habit of wanting to learn more about things that piqued their interest.

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My kids have always been homeschooled & I don't consider either of them to be an auto didact (one in college, one still at home) 

 

My view is that if it happens, you take credit for it (I definitely would have)  I did ALL the same stuff you guys talk about. 

Since it didn't, I blame genetics/personality :p

Edited by hornblower
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My kids have always been homeschooled & I don't consider either of them to be an auto didact (one in college, one still at home) 

 

My view is that if it happens, you take credit for it (I definitely would have)  I did ALL the same stuff you guys talk about. 

 

Since it didn't, I blame genetics/personality :p

 

Genetics plays a part I'm sure.  At ps there are always a couple of kids I can't "turn on."  I can get them to behave, but not necessarily turn on the spark that intrigues them to new things.  They may, or may not, do their homework and such things.

 

Even more, expanding to the animal world, ponies are under a similar bell curve.  We just had one born that is super naturally curious and unafraid - wanting to explore his world at 5 days old (and earlier).  In the wild he'd likely have died TBH.  Most can be trained/taught to be bold at least to a major extent, and of course, aging helps.  Some stay uninterested in anything except the good old familiar things they like (whatever that may be).

 

Humans are animals too.

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As always, adore.  But why are there never like buttons on your posts?  It's only your posts, not anybody else's.  You're special or something, lol.

 

It's not just me. :) 

 

I'm on the Spam Busting Moderators team.  :coolgleamA:

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Thank you all for the responses so far.  

 

I think I wasn't clear it what my goal was.  I don't have a need to teach my kids curiosity or to pursue their own interests, they do that already.  My question is really more about, "Here is your biology text.  Learn it."  Modeling the process, doing long term planning with the kids, and scaffolding, as well as very regular checks on progress all make sense to me. Thanks!

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I have one boy who can self teach and developed those skills naturally overtime with my support.  My younger boy, however, really struggles to self teach anything. I can't give him a textbook and say 'learn it.'  He would just stare at me.  I have worked for years and years building up his skills, but it is just a very slow road, and I just tackle what each day gives me.  Unlike his older brother, he was never able to read those kiddy nonfiction books.  They were just too bitsy for him.  He needed more of a story, so switched to National Geographic early on.  These article don't lend themselves to testing, so I got him to write papers.  First summary papers and now at age 12 we are starting to get into multiple source opinion papers.  But we are not moving very fast into that realm. And we are no where near taking tests on content.  I'm working now to get him reading textbooks.  He is super interested in Earth Science, so we are working our way through a textbook by buddy reading, taking turns reading paragraphs.  As we do this, I talk to him about the voice in my mind, and how it asks questions all the time, and looks for answers. How it skims ahead to see what is coming up, and tries to find structure in the argument.  How it summarizes over and over again to strengthen understanding.  This boy needs very very direct guidance and support.  There is absolutely no handing over a textbook like there was with my older. And I might add, I don't have any hope of him being an independent learner for at least 3 years as I see it.

 

I will also add that I directly taught my older boy study skills when he needed to take the equivalent of the AP mock physics exam with only 6 weeks notice.  He had been learning the material for 1.5 years, and taking Regentrude's tests, but the transition to a very specific type of essay test was not something ds could have managed on his own, not at 15.  Especially because he had never taken a test that actually counted in his life.  He did not realize how important it was to study old tests and really over learn how the essays needed to be structured and how much detail had to be added.  I needed to directly teach him how to balance a timed test with the need to add enough detail to his essays to get full marks.  This intense learning process required very clear guidance.  I spent an hour a day showing him how to do this for 6 weeks. Now this year, he is much more clear on what is required and how to go about getting the grades that he wants.  Could he have learned it on his own?  I'm sure, but not for his *first* test which actually counted for quite a lot in the scheme of things. And it would have taken a few fails for him to develop an effective method through trial and error.

 

So both of my kids in their own way have required quite a lot of my involvement to learn these skills.  Not something that they just built up to without my directed effort day after day.  As far as I'm concerned, self-learning is the end game. So it is my number one priority.  But it *really* depends on the kid.  And dumping a kid in the deep end can backfire as I have seen with some of the kids that I tutor.

 

Ruth in NZ 

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Thank you all for the responses so far.  

 

I think I wasn't clear it what my goal was.  I don't have a need to teach my kids curiosity or to pursue their own interests, they do that already.  My question is really more about, "Here is your biology text.  Learn it."  Modeling the process, doing long term planning with the kids, and scaffolding, as well as very regular checks on progress all make sense to me. Thanks!

 

Discussions.  "What did you learn in Bio today?  What do you think about it?  How do you see that being important?  What sort of advances do you see coming from it?"

 

We didn't do discussions about everything they learned, but we did them fairly often.  Discussions could also come up at any time afterward - like when traveling and inspired from something else.

 

Lately my middle son has been teaching me about the anatomy of the nerves in the head... ;)

 

We used tests to be certain the foundational knowledge was obtained, but used discussions to make sure the real world implications were understood.

 

Interestingly enough, middle son still comes up with unique solutions to unknown issues.  It's very helpful at his research U as some of his tests had research questions on them where there was no "known" answer, but rather a "what would you do about this?" types of stuff.  Oldest ended up terrific with all things financial (stocks and more).  Youngest excels in languages and botany.  They all ended up with their "loves," and are able to go quite deeply into them, including the hypothetical/unknown.

 

This is what I try to get students at school to see they can do too. 

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Discussions.  "What did you learn in Bio today?  What do you think about it?  How do you see that being important?  What sort of advances do you see coming from it?"

 

We didn't do discussions about everything they learned, but we did them fairly often.  Discussions could also come up at any time afterward - like when traveling and inspired from something else.

 

Lately my middle son has been teaching me about the anatomy of the nerves in the head... ;)

 

We used tests to be certain the foundational knowledge was obtained, but used discussions to make sure the real world implications were understood.

 

Interestingly enough, middle son still comes up with unique solutions to unknown issues.  It's very helpful at his research U as some of his tests had research questions on them where there was no "known" answer, but rather a "what would you do about this?" types of stuff.  Oldest ended up terrific with all things financial (stocks and more).  Youngest excels in languages and botany.  They all ended up with their "loves," and are able to go quite deeply into them, including the hypothetical/unknown.

 

This is what I try to get students at school to see they can do too. 

 

This is an interesting idea.  In lieu of the direct instruction time, instead give that time to discussion.  Sort of a "flipped classroom" concept.  I like it, I like it...

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 I love reading books by someone with one or two kids who tells us how EVERY kid would turn out if we just did what they did. 

 

This is also true of parents with many kids. I cannot tell you the number of times moms of many have told me exactly what you just described. Their way worked for X number of their kids, therefore it works for all kids. So not true. There are billions of people in the world. Even if you have 20+ kids, that's still a small sample. 

 

One book in particular I'm thinking of was written by a father of around 7. I forget the exact number. No, he didn't have some magic formula. I know many families with several children. They all parent differently, some much better than others. Numbers aren't everything.

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My mother was not highly educated, but she managed to turn out autodidacts by teaching us to be curious.

 

 

Curious...  I like having it turned around into what do I think made ME this way.

 

I spent an insane amount of time outside as a child with my dad who had the shortest attention span known to man.  I loved it.  Feel like planting a tree? Plant a tree.... Or build a sandbox, or go on a hike and see the beaver dam he found, or go hunting.  He always had conservation magazines around and talked a lot about habitat and animals and plants.  

 

My younger brother and sister and I had very different lives.  I grew up on a hobby farm raising one of everything.  My dad had a 7-4 job while my mom worked nights and weekends.  When I was 14, we moved to my grandparents' farm - the family farm and it was a working farm.  My dad went into working every spare moment (his "real" job and then "real" farming.)  My mom went to 8-5.  There is a 10.5 year gap between my sister and I.  We are total opposites and adore each other but she cannot understand why I would want to research or read or learn about much of anything.

 

*However* I've also noticed the busier I am, the less "space" I have to read, research, explore, try............  As she works full time and I see her schedule, she has enough time to get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, do human maintenance, go to bed.  On the weekends they do house/yard care and rest up.  What time/space/energy is there to read, think, explore with that schedule?  I think given those three things she would become curious.

 

This last year while I worked some and was a full time student on top of parenting and homeschooling, I read so very little (other than assigned textbooks) it was shocking.

 

 

 

*I honestly believe that people need free time, space to breathe, time outdoors, natural rhythms, sleep to be autodidacts.  They must have time and space to ponder ideas.  They must have time to read others' ideas and thoughts.  They must have the energy to expend to try things and fail and try again.

 

The busy-ness of life squashes curiousity.

 

 

I want my children to be inquisitive, curious, readers, and explorers.  I believe they need as much time outside as I can offer them.  They need free time to play hard and be tired.  They need VERY limited screen time because they don't understand the importance of keeping passive entertainment out of their lives.  They need me to introduce them to ideas - and eventually to learn how to look for other ideas and alternative views on their own.  They need me to answer questions honestly - and admit when I  don't know the answer.  They need me to let them see seasons, rhythms...  They need pets/animals and to learn compassion and care for those animals that are dependent on them.  

 

I do see that some of my children are less curious than others.  It will be curious and fascinating to see the little people in front of me and who they become as adults. 

Edited by BlsdMama
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Thank you all for the responses so far.  

 

I think I wasn't clear it what my goal was.  I don't have a need to teach my kids curiosity or to pursue their own interests, they do that already.  My question is really more about, "Here is your biology text.  Learn it."  Modeling the process, doing long term planning with the kids, and scaffolding, as well as very regular checks on progress all make sense to me. Thanks!

 

I think those kids are unusual.  College doesn't *really* do that either.  They give you a syllabus, accountability points, office hours, peer group projects, etc.  It's an unusual kid who will self-do all that on his own.  That's why it stands out so much.

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I think those kids are unusual.  College doesn't *really* do that either.  They give you a syllabus, accountability points, office hours, peer group projects, etc.  It's an unusual kid who will self-do all that on his own.  That's why it stands out so much.

 

College classes differ too - even within colleges.  Some expect a fully prepared student entering into class for the day having read and learned about the topic at hand, then being prepared to discuss it or anything new (not in textbooks) about it.  Others just teach what was in the reading, so there's no real point for a student having done it first unless they want a double dose of the concept (some need that).

 

My older two boys (homeschooled through high school), thrived on the first and got annoyed with the latter.  Youngest (public schooled for high school) prefers the latter for classes that don't interest him.  He's way ahead on classes that do interest him.

 

It's the former that I teach for in my classes when I get long term subbing at school and many students love it.  It doesn't take long before students are bringing things to my attention - things they've learned on their own when preparing - things outside the book.  We share what we know.

 

Did you know the Crooked Forest exists in Poland?

 

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=crooked%20forest%20poland

 

I didn't either until one of my Animal and Plant Class kids brought it to my attention when she found out about it.  Plant "stuff" is not in my background as known things.  I'm Physics/Math and Chem, then handle enough Bio for high school.  But I ended up teaching the class for 10 or 12 weeks this past year because they "didn't have anyone better to do it."  Sure we covered the text stuff together, but we also all starting learning beyond the text.  That's what makes learning fun.  It's even more fun when we all share things rather than me, as the teacher, finding it all myself.  I've learned many things from my boys and my students.  

 

When I'm just doing regular subbing I bring in a lot of outside (real life) stuff anyway.  They love that too.  It inspires a love of learning outside the texts and classrooms.

 

Regular teaching is downright boring - it needs to be done sometimes to ensure a solid foundation - but one can do so much more.  Most kids love it as long as grades and discipline are not wrapped up in it - that makes it work.  Not all, but most.

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College classes differ too - even within colleges.  Some expect a fully prepared student entering into class for the day having read and learned about the topic at hand, then being prepared to discuss it or anything new (not in textbooks) about it.  Others just teach what was in the reading, so there's no real point for a student having done it first unless they want a double dose of the concept (some need that).

 

I agree.  My university profs were all over the map in terms of expectations for student reading, etc.  

 

I think what may answer my questions best is looking more into the flipped classroom design for younger students, and working my way up to a student-led-learning-plus-discussion-based learning model from there.  

 

Ultimately, what I want are students thoroughly prepared for university (if that's the path they choose), including those tough professors who expect the students to bring the discussion to them, rather than spoon-feeding it to the students.  

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This is an interesting idea.  In lieu of the direct instruction time, instead give that time to discussion.  Sort of a "flipped classroom" concept.  I like it, I like it...

  

I agree.  My university profs were all over the map in terms of expectations for student reading, etc.  

 

I think what may answer my questions best is looking more into the flipped classroom design for younger students, and working my way up to a student-led-learning-plus-discussion-based learning model from there.  

 

Ultimately, what I want are students thoroughly prepared for university (if that's the path they choose), including those tough professors who expect the students to bring the discussion to them, rather than spoon-feeding it to the students.

 

We began homeschooling six years ago when dd was in fifth grade. I have never done any direct instruction with her. Instead we have

 

• buddy-read lit or history and discussed as we went along

• worked problems side-by-side (or across the table) from prealgebra through AP calculus

• read a section or chapter separately then discussed it

• watched documentaries together, pausing to discuss

• listened to Great Courses/Teaching Company lectures together, pausing to discuss and google interesting bits

• followed a flipped-classroom mode in which she would read and/or watch video clips one day and then we'd discuss the topic the next day

• followed a flipped-classroom mode in which she would read/watch and do a problem set or answer questions (short essay, not basic comprehension fil-in-the-blank-type questions) one day, and then we'd discuss and go over her work the next

 

Dd has no patience for direct instruction even in foreign language classes. She prefers (and learns faster in) the immersion model.

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Scaffolding is helpful.

So, for instance, a long term project might require prereading, looking for additional sources, studying and annotating those, doing an outline, writing a first draft, writing a final version, editing, adding references, and checking grammar/spelling.

 

So you set a deadline for each of these, and the next time you hand the student this list and ask him to set those deadlines, etc.

 

Also, modelling is helpful.  You say that you wonder about something.  You ask whether the student knows anything about it.  You look through references, you go to the library, you read up, you summarize, you talk about this as you're going along as though it is the most fascinating thing in the world.  

 

Also, giving choices is helpful.  "You can write a paper on this book, or compare and contrast this book with this other one, or a poem about the book's theme, or propose a separate assignment for us to discuss."  I did this A LOT, and it got to the point where DD was making up her own assignments in literature and sometimes history, and they were good ones, and instead of giving her a hard time about not following instructions, I would say, well, this was superb so I'll let you slide on the instructions.  This teaches or at least gives space for initiative.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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My kids have always been homeschooled & I don't consider either of them to be an auto didact (one in college, one still at home) 

 

My view is that if it happens, you take credit for it (I definitely would have)  I did ALL the same stuff you guys talk about. 

 

Since it didn't, I blame genetics/personality :p

 

Actually I want to change my answer because I realized we hadn't defined terms (what is an autodidact exactly?) & I think I was thinking of something a little bit different.  

 

My kids are curious, self motivated & learn on their own about tons of stuff. It's just that much of it seems to be things the mainstream academic world doesn't recognize - or maybe not until senior undergrad & above years?

 

When I think autodidact, I think someone who teaches themselves calculus out of a book when they're 13. Or a student who decides to learn Japanese on their own & tests into college level classes after watching youtube videos and doing mango online or something... 

 

I guess my kids are autodidacts about their own world. And then there's the world of narrowly defined high school & lower undergrad subject, the entrance essay, the exam requiring you to regurgitate definitions, functions, charts etc.  That stuff they view as hoops to get ahead in life & for that they're all "give the textbook, give me an instructor, tell me what you want to memorize and know and let me out of here" 

 

So I'm not sure what the difference is exactly but there's something different. I know I did spend a lot of time in high school reigning them in from their rabbit trails (because they'd get *nothing* that translated into academia done) & talking about the difference between education & credentialing vs. learning & maybe that's the result.  They're lifelong learners in some ways, just not the ways that made my teaching high-school homeschool experience easy. 

 

Not sure if that's making sense? 

 

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what is an autodidact exactly? 

 

 

I'm using the term as a student who is eager to learn about the world (or parts thereof) and makes an active effort to learn by themselves vs someone who comes in and says "teach me" or "I don't give a hoot," neither of which put much effort in themselves unless they are convinced they have to.

 

It could be Calc, or Botany, or Mechanics, or Cooking, or whatever.  Often these types are interested in more than one thing TBH.  Little bits of knowledge or experience can inspire more areas.

 

Most love to share info and bounce ideas off one another.

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I'm using the term as a student who is eager to learn about the world (or parts thereof) and makes an active effort to learn by themselves vs someone who comes in and says "teach me" or "I don't give a hoot," neither of which put much effort in themselves unless they are convinced they have to.

 

It could be Calc, or Botany, or Mechanics, or Cooking, or whatever.  Often these types are interested in more than one thing TBH.  Little bits of knowledge or experience can inspire more areas.

 

Most love to share info and bounce ideas off one another.

So maybe I have halves? Cause they definitely fit the first part but there are definitely things where' they're "whatevs, teach me" They put in effort for some things just because they want gpa/need the credit/it's a hoop to jump through. 

 

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We just had one born that is super naturally curious and unafraid - wanting to explore his world at 5 days old (and earlier).  In the wild he'd likely have died TBH.  

When I first read that, I thought you were talking about one of your sons, haha!  And I was coming to say that I have a couple of those sorts of children too, LOL!  Crazy curious and no sense of fear.  We just try to teach them to harness their energy for good. . .

 

My, albeit fairly limited, experience is that my kids will teach themselves when they're interested in the subject and that all kids are different.  They'll soak up hours and hours of finding resources and learning everything they can about whatever subjects THEY want to learn, whether it's a school subject or not.  I have two kids who analyze classic rock for the historical meanings (who knew Iron Maiden was educational? I didn't!  But it is!). ;)  And my one son generally likes most subjects and will happily work on his own at this point, for many subjects.  (Granted, it helps that the more he learns about history, the more connections he makes to music.)  But sometimes I have to pull the "just do it" with my kids because while THEY may not care, I can see a bigger picture and won't let apathy be the reason they may have holes in their knowledge.  (Time, energy, whatever, sure, but not "it was there and I just didn't care.")

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So maybe I have halves? Cause they definitely fit the first part but there are definitely things where' they're "whatevs, teach me" They put in effort for some things just because they want gpa/need the credit/it's a hoop to jump through. 

 

 

Like anything else, it's a bell curve, not an "on or off" switch.  Some will put the effort into everything, some into nothing, and many into differing levels of what interests them.

 

The trick can come in with making things interesting enough for some to choose to put more effort in on their own.  Learning (academics) is often seen as "work" so naturally will turn some off.  That's the first stereotype to try to break.

 

Then there can be negative peer (or family) pressure against "over achievers."  I had a senior gal this year take quite an interest in some brain videos (and info) I was bringing into the classroom.  Being curious, she decided to watch more of them outside of school.  Her dad walked in, saw what was on TV and asked her, "Why are you watching that crap???"  She was pretty shaken mentally.  I did my best to assure her that it was ok to be curious about her world even if her family wasn't.  She didn't have to adopt their ideas for her life.  She's off to college this year, so hopefully will keep her love of learning alive.

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When I first read that, I thought you were talking about one of your sons, haha!  And I was coming to say that I have a couple of those sorts of children too, LOL!  Crazy curious and no sense of fear.  We just try to teach them to harness their energy for good. . .

 

Kids can be that way too - just not generally at 5 days old.  We get things on "fast forward" with ponies!

 

Middle son was naturally curious from birth.  He'd go off with a stranger easily if they had something interesting going on or even better food in his opinion in their grocery carts, so we had to watch him for that reason.

 

Youngest was/is my daredevil.  Sometimes it's better if I just don't look.  Our new neighbors saw him last Christmas break and let me know if we ever needed the husband's nursing skills, be sure to let them know.  They weren't joking.  My lad was way up in a tree sawing off branches (pruning) at the time with no safety anything attached to him.  He is probably lucky he made it to adulthood, but obviously, still presses the limits on many things.

 

Oldest was clingy (to me).  He still grew up to develop a deep mind overall, but esp into things he likes - like finances, history, and public affairs.

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(what is an autodidact exactly?)

 

 

literally a self-teacher.

A person who can teach herself from available materials; who has the ability to seek out and use resources that enable her to learn what she wants to learn, and the discipline to actually follow through.

 

 

 

When I think autodidact, I think someone who teaches themselves calculus out of a book when they're 13.  

 

No to the bolded - being an autodidact does not have to mean the student is in any way precocious or gifted.

But yes, a person who teaches himself calculus from a book is an autodidact.

 

 

 

. Or a student who decides to learn Japanese on their own & tests into college level classes after watching youtube videos and doing mango online or something... 

 

Yes, a student who is teaching himself a foreign language is an autodidact.

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See then there are several people talking about different things. I have curious kids. They're auto didacts in many, many areas. 

But when Monica says My question is really more about, "Here is your biology text.  Learn it."  I don't have that kid.  I'm also just musing about the recent thread on what homeschooling in high school looks like & being able to work during it etc and high school ticking off boxes for college wouldn't happen here without a lot of guidance from me. 

They're curious and engaged and I have no doubt they'll be lifelong learners but they're also pretty cynical about lots of the busywork requirements of various programs. 

 

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See then there are several people talking about different things. I have curious kids. They're auto didacts in many, many areas. 

 

But when Monica says My question is really more about, "Here is your biology text.  Learn it."  I don't have that kid.  I'm also just musing about the recent thread on what homeschooling in high school looks like & being able to work during it etc and high school ticking off boxes for college wouldn't happen here without a lot of guidance from me. 

 

They're curious and engaged and I have no doubt they'll be lifelong learners but they're also pretty cynical about lots of the busywork requirements of various programs. 

 

 

Autodidacts and independent learners are often not kindly inclined towards busywork.

Simple solution: cut it out. Make sure every assignment has a specific purpose furthering the learning goal.

 

We homeschooled highschool largely without busy work.

 

The busywork in scripted programs is there for the non-independent learner.

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My child is not an autodidact in my understanding of that term (which I would apply to a kid I grew up with who taught himself computer and other subjects completely on his own, no college, and went to work for Microsoft, or to a kid I know locally who decided he wanted to know Japanese and taught himself that with some help from a librarian to interlibrary loan him the materials).  

 

However, he can work fairly independently when he has a mind to, which may be what you really want. For him a lot of working independently has come along with adolescence as a way to become independent in general and push mom away.

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My mother modeled curiosity through lifelong learning and never making excuses for herself. She prepared us to participate in the Great Conversation, so to speak, by demanding our personal best for academic excellence and never giving up on us. So when we followed her path as autodidacts in middle, high and grad school--we were able to be in great company. I don't mean Harvard. Just able to maintain the respect and interest of well-educated people who'd studies the world over.

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Interestingly enough, upon talking with middle son tonight - just got off the phone - he's now teaching himself computer coding.  Why?  Because he wanted to.  It's useful in his major.  He got a book from the library and already has his first program working well...

 

His lab mentor/prof heard about what he is doing and has him teaching a workshop to all the lab researchers too.  He didn't decline.  He's making lesson plans for the classes that will meet twice weekly starting soon.

 

He's also taught himself soldering because he needed it to create machines to use in his lab.  He took an old machine, fixed it, drastically improved it to meet their needs, and now will be building nine more.

 

Then he came up with a creative thought as to what could be causing my health issues - one I hadn't even thought of before, but is certainly plausible.  I'll have to look into more details about it if I don't get answers from an upcoming test.

 

I really need him to finish med school.  I suppose he needs to get accepted and start first.  Talk about busywork!   :lol:

Edited by creekland
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My ds taught himself to solder quite a while back. He's been working all weekend on repairing an RC quadcopter which he built a few months ago & which suffered a rather hard landing. I guess  I did ok raising him after all. 

Yup, I'm taking ALL.THE.CREDIT! 
 

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Interestingly enough, upon talking with middle son tonight - just got off the phone - he's now teaching himself computer coding.  Why?  Because he wanted to.  It's useful in his major.  He got a book from the library and already has his first program working well...

 

And that is what distinguishes an excellent student from an average one.

 

The average student will complain when he is expected to know something that "had not been covered" in a previous class.

The excellent student will take the steps he needs to learn what he needs to know in order to succeed.

 

The first is expecting spoon feeding; the second is taking charge of, and responsibility for, his education.

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My ds taught himself to solder quite a while back. He's been working all weekend on repairing an RC quadcopter which he built a few months ago & which suffered a rather hard landing. I guess  I did ok raising him after all. 

 

Yup, I'm taking ALL.THE.CREDIT! 

 

 

Assuming you didn't walk in while he was working/learning and ask him, "What is this crap you're doing???" I think you can take at least some of the credit.

 

As parents, part of our job is supporting their dreams.

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