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Anyone want to help me out with a thought experiment??


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Great thought experiment and fun to read everyone's ideas!

 

With TWTM and Charlotte Mason, the ideal is to build our learning around great books. I want my kids to be able to think about what they're reading-- with the level/depth of thinking guided by their developmental stage. This sounds easy, but it's hard, especially since homeschoolers are continually challenged to provide something that they are still trying to attain for themselves.

 

So... along those lines... my ideal would also include the parents. Training and equipping them in the big ideas, methods, and lines of questioning that make learning deep and rich.

 

Along with this, my ideal homeschool would include an outside 'academy' of sorts that offered book discussions for each stage of the trivium, and for each historical period within these stages. So logic stage students would have a book discussion class for Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, then Modern. Same for elementary (with maybe light discussion and the projects) and then High School. 

 

In fact, I'd love to see a homeschool academy of some kind that has all sorts of classes for the things that are hard to do solo, or just more fun to do in a group. I'm thinking nature study and art projects at the elementary stage. Science at the logic and rhetoric stages-- those experiments! Many parents need to outsource math or foreign language. Public speaking, drama. All those things that we piece together and spend hours driving to, but located in one place. I'd love to see a private school of sorts that you can tap in or out of, to the extent you need, but still have a rich school at home.

 

I wish there were more meaningful social opportunities for kids. It's all so kid-centric and seems focused on keeping kids entertained.

 

I think travel would definitely be a part of our ideal. We're studying the Vikings and Norse Myths and I'm longing to kayak the fjords and visit Iceland.

 

Service. I'd love to find ways for us to be serving in unique ways. My daughter isn't old enough yet to be a 'homework buddy' at the library. I'd like to have us involved with something where we're working directly with kids who struggle to learn. I want my kids to meet and work with kids that are different from us. We are privileged and I see how much compassion and gratitude is created when kids see a bigger world. This has been one benefit I've appreciated from my son's public High School experience. 

 

Also, I wish we lived on a small farm. The suburbs are convenient but uninspiring, and often noisy. I think kids need important work to do. Laundry and dishes, dusting and vacuuming, mowing and weeding are all worthy and necessary, but having a few chickens, a garden... some quiet and beauty around us... I long for that.

 

I'd love to see easier access to mentoring and apprenticeship opportunities. My son really needed some direction and outside work that wasn't a class, but I never had any idea how to make it happen.

 

Hmmm.... I'll be thinking more about this....

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It's commendable that you are looking for ways to encourage parents (who are in the box) to think outside the box. Any time we can encourage parents to consider what learning really is, that is a good

Oh man, this - especially the bolded. This is a big part of why I hang on to some requirements even if they are not in passion subjects or don't seem directly relevant. Essentially, I want two things

I'd give some consideration to an oral tradition.  Historically speaking, and even culturally speaking (outside a western focus, anyway), knowledge was transmitted orally, not in written form.  The on

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(i think)

 

We did gymnastics for physical training. I wanted my children to learn that intense physical control. It cost a huge amount of money, down time, and family time. It has saved my children's lives upon occasion. We would do it again.

 

My ideal education would include gymnastics team at a good gym with no commute starting at about 2 and going through about 15. (The commute was part of what made it hard.) i need to get the sit-down part of school out of the way first thing in the morning,, but what would have worked best for my children, I think, would have been to do gym first and then, when their bodies were worn out enough to sit still, do seat work.

 

Music - we would do it every day, a combination of Orff and Kodally, in a class (so lots of harmony), working towards complete musical literacy, not just being able to sing. They would also study an instrument. Ensemble work outside music class would be optional. Nobody would be forced to be creative. The focus would be on skills. But everyone would be encouraged to play around with music and have fun.

 

Art - Ditto about the creating. The little ones would just draw and play with art stuff. Then I would watch carefully, and when they showed signs of being dissatisfied with their drawing, which happened at about 8 or 9 for my children, I would teach the cartooning/drafting type drawing taught in Draw Squad, drawing from the imagination. Later, I would do a more grownup version of drawing class and teach drawing something you are looking at. Learning to draw would not be optional. It would be considered a communication form like writing, and assignments for other classes would include a mix of drawing and writing. We would do painting and sculpting also, but only the basics. The Klutz painting book was great for this, I think. Anything further would be optional. This would be taught at home, unlike music and gymnastics.

 

Family time - well, my preference would be for a wild, free summer of time spent stuck someplace like on a small boat or camping, with lots of this weekends, too. Making music together, reading aloud, playing games, ... All important stuff.

 

I think as the child grows, the child needs a bigger world. We did this by letting our children travel for months at a time with the Nipponzan Myohoji monks. In my opinion, this was ideal and covered many subjects in an applied way, but I certainly would not recommend it for all families or children. I would have something like this in my ideal education. I also would include classes and non-family teachers in my ideal education, for some subjects, so my children had a learning community to challenge them and inspire them, more for the social learners. I think mentors are important as well. I think ideally, the child would have mentors for their particular passions.

 

Foreign language - at least one ancient and one modern. Ideally, the modern would be taught immersion style from birth and then used in school, not taught as a foreign language. You would do dictation in English one day and French the next, great books would be both, history in English one year and in French the next, or something like that. Immersion, travel, and a use for the language would be important.The ancient language would be taught in a more conventional way, but much more like in Europe, where they move to using the language in a real way more quickly.

 

Nan

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I've been thinking a lot about this topic.

I'm not sure there is an ideal education, or even an ideal educational philosophy. When I read something like the Well Trained Mind that lays out a coherent philosophy and reasonable suggested course of study for 12 years or so, I can see that a path like that could result in an adult prepared for life.

But it's almost a polar opposite of my own educational/developmental experience, a rich but extremely fragmented path that also produced adults very much prepared for life.

Which makes me think--there is no best box, and boxes of any sort aren't necessarily required.

Here's my story:

My mom was an educator by training who felt that children should not be cooped up in classrooms at a young age. During my early years, we lived on a small family farm. I didn't go to school, neither did my mom provide any structured education at home. I had violin lessons and practicing was a daily ritual. We had lots of books in the house and both my parents read aloud to us regularly. We had family chores and as we were able helped with the farm. And I spent countless hours in imaginative play with my siblings. We waded in irrigation ditches, built cities in the sandbox, climbed trees, played on the coal pile in the shed, made dolls out of immature corn cobs and brushed their cornsilk hair with brushes made of spruce tree twigs, played with kittens, rode our bikes, ran barefoot through the fields. We didn't have a TV in the house, but did have a large collection of classical music on vinyl records.

When I was 8 my mom figured I was old enough for school and enrolled me in the third grade at the local elementary school. I'd learned to read just that summer, though my mom had been trying to teach me off and on for several years. Once I started reading I took off, going from barely sounding out words to reading David Copperfield in a single year. I hadn't had much exposure to spelling or writing or written math before I started school but I caught up quickly. The next summer, our family's life changed dramatically as my dad took a job that had us moving first across the country, then just a few months later leaving the US entirely. I spent the next nine years living in five different countries on three different continents, attending seven different schools with three different primary languages of instruction.

Fragmentation indeed. In terms of academic content, whole years at a time went over my head as I struggled to learn a new language. And then, there was no continuity of instruction from one school to the next. On the flip side of the coin, life was immensely rich with experience--living in and traveling through a significant portion of the world, learning languages, interacting with people from a wide variety of cultures and circumstances. At home, we still had lots of books and magazines, and that was where I did a lot of my learning. I'd just pick something that seemed interesting, whether it was Lord of the Rings or War and Peace or the Gaelic Wars in a Latin/English edition or The Economist or one of my mother's many science and math book of the month club acquisitions. Reading was my way of staying grounded in a constantly shifting world, of having something that was under my control.

My last two years of high school were spent in an International Baccalaureate program at a private school in Europe. Those were challenging years as my 9th and 10th grade years in an entirely differently and much less rigorous educational system (on a different continent) had not at all prepared me for the rigor of the IB. I survived though, passed my exams, graduated, and moved back to the US on my own to attend college. I can't say my academic course up to that point was in any way ideal, certainly there were all kinds of gaps, but the transition to college wasn't any more of a challenge than any of the other numerous transitions I had been through.

I'm not sure I can call what I experienced an education--certainly not in any traditional sense of a teacher passing a specified body of knowledge on to a student. But I grew and learned and experienced and was seemingly better prepared than many to make my way as an adult.

With my own kids? I've never had any particular set educational path in mind. I try every year to give them what seems best to meet their mental, physical, social, and emotional needs at the time. I do keep basic skills in mind--they need to be able to read, to write, and to understand and manipulate numbers and mathematical relations. I'd like them to speak at least one foreign language. I'd like them to have the joy of artistic and physical pursuits in their lives, I'd like to cultivate curiosity and inquisitiveness and a sense of self in a large and fascinating world. I'd like them to develop compassion and a willingness to seek to understand the lives and experiences of others.

I'm not too worried about a checklist of things to learn. There's way more to the world than could ever fit on a checklist.

Edited by maize
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I'm still working my way through the posts in this thread (note to self: you left off at post #47) and trying to gather my thoughts coherently on this subject.  It's surprisingly difficult for me to do this right now (gather my thoughts on it), yet I suspect it is a well-timed exercise nonetheless.  It's something of a reality-check, something that can help make sure we are still going in a good direction, working in good ways for us, instead of getting stuck in ruts.

 

Does this make sense?

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I'm still working my way through the posts in this thread (note to self: you left off at post #47) and trying to gather my thoughts coherently on this subject.  It's surprisingly difficult for me to do this right now (gather my thoughts on it), yet I suspect it is a well-timed exercise nonetheless.  It's something of a reality-check, something that can help make sure we are still going in a good direction, working in good ways for us, instead of getting stuck in ruts.

 

Does this make sense?

 

Yes, it does. And I agree!

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You know what I would love? A homeschool tour group. If there was an affordable way to travel and take the kids to educational places with other homeschoolers, I'd be there.

 

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You know what I would love? A homeschool tour group. If there was an affordable way to travel and take the kids to educational places with other homeschoolers, I'd be there.

 

My experience going on field trips with homeschoolers is that the kids are so excited to see their friends they miss the whole purpose of the field trip.  No more group field trips for me unless they're recreational.   :D

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The interesting thing about the bolded is that autonomy plays a key role in the development of competence, mastery and self discipline, at least according to self determination theory (which has reasonably good evidence for its utility).

 

I actually see a lot of education as actively undermining autonomy - especially that which is undertaken due to having to tick the boxes.

 

I personally struggle with this. I believe I could provide an education more encouraging of both autonomy and competence if I was freed from the legal obligation to tick certain boxes.

 

:iagree: I struggle with this, too. It's hard to find that perfect balance between requiring A, B, and C, on the one hand, and encouraging the student's intrinsic motivation, on the other.

 

Short personal anecdote: We had a library in our public high school, I do not know why. No one ever used it, except for one, brief class -- Library Orientation -- at the beginning of sophomore year. I remember walking past the library doors each morning, thinking, "If they'd only let me in there, if they'd only let me read, I might actually learn something." Honestly, by the time I'd put in my day, shuffling from poorly-taught class to even-more-poorly-taught class, went to band practice or Mock Trial, walked home, did chores, took a shower, did homework, spent time with my parents -- where was there any time for autonomy? Where was there any time for self-study or personal interests or mastery of something that interested me? That kind of daily set-up, year after year, is not at all conducive to becoming a self-directed learner. I remember feeling a sense of loss about that, even in high school.

 

So there is that question for us, as homeschoolers, of how to prevent doing the same thing again to our own kids. On the one hand -- The Requirements, ours and the state's. On the other hand -- Something Else? I remember having this idea in my head, back then, that my preference would have been to meet with tutors every week (for direction, conversation, reading assignments, assessment), and then to spend the rest of my time in a nice, quiet, comfortable, sunny place, surrounded by books, pen and notebook in hand, reading, absorbing, thinking through things.... Alas, it was not to be. 

 

I had this idea that I could have one tutor for Math, Science & Technology. We would meet twice weekly.

 

Another for Humanities -- English Composition (with vocabulary, grammar, etc.), English Literature, History, Geography, Philosophy, etc. We would meet three times per week.

 

Another tutor for French. Three times a week.

 

Another for Music. Twice weekly.

 

So, a high school schedule might be something like:

 

Monday-Wednesday-Friday

AM: Humanities Tutor; French Tutor

PM: Readings/study/exercises in Math/Science & Music

 

Tuesday-Thursday

AM: Math/Science/Tech Tutor; Music Tutor

PM: Readings/study/writings for Humanities & French

 

Anyway, that was my high school dream line-up. The reality was a far cry from that. :rolleyes:

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So, a high school schedule might be something like:

 

Monday-Wednesday-Friday

AM: Humanities Tutor; French Tutor

PM: Readings/study/exercises in Math/Science & Music

 

Tuesday-Thursday

AM: Math/Science/Tech Tutor; Music Tutor

PM: Readings/study/writings for Humanities & French

 

 

 

This is actually quite similar to my daughter's schedule with tutors and on-line classes. It's working out well. Now if we can just replicate it next year.... :glare:

 

Edited to add: Time in the afternoons and evenings is also spent with mentors and in pursuing other interests and goals.

(Thanks for the reminder, maize.)

Edited by Woodland Mist Academy
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The autonomy issue is important to me as well. After writing my post upthread I realized I had left out an important goal I have in educating my own children: that of facilitating the development of their personal interests and pursuit of their individual goals.

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My experience going on field trips with homeschoolers is that the kids are so excited to see their friends they miss the whole purpose of the field trip.  No more group field trips for me unless they're recreational.   :D

 

I'm not talking about field trips though. I'm talking about a whole week touring educational places similar to what schools do with Washington DC or Europe trips. I'd prefer middle school age and up. 

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I'm not talking about field trips though. I'm talking about a whole week touring educational places similar to what schools do with Washington DC or Europe trips. I'd prefer middle school age and up. 

 

I've seen it happen on these types of trips, too. I'm sure it depends on the individuals involved. 

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I'm not talking about field trips though. I'm talking about a whole week touring educational places similar to what schools do with Washington DC or Europe trips. I'd prefer middle school age and up.

I think Landry Academy runs trips like that but they're probably only a good option for folks in their target demographic.

 

Do I hear you volunteering to coordinate something? :D

 

It actually would probably not be hard to do--set something up with one of the companies that regularly runs tour groups then advertise on TWTM boards for participants :)

Edited by maize
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I'm not talking about field trips though. I'm talking about a whole week touring educational places similar to what schools do with Washington DC or Europe trips. I'd prefer middle school age and up.

I think this is an example of what would be a great opportunity for one family, would be another family's private hell. I like having options though. (I just wouldn't choose the same option that you chose).

 

 

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I think this is an example of what would be a great opportunity for one family, would be another family's private hell. I like having options though. (I just wouldn't choose the same option that you chose).

 

 

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No I get it. Dh would never be on board with something like this. He loathes travel. I'm the one with the wanderlust. 

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No I get it. Dh would never be on board with something like this. He loathes travel. I'm the one with the wanderlust. 

 

For us it wouldn't be the travel. The issue would be traveling with a group.  There are many reasons I avoid it, including losing a certain degree of spontaneity and freedom.

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For us it wouldn't be the travel. The issue would be traveling with a group. There are many reasons I avoid it, including losing a certain degree of spontaneity and freedom.

Yes. This is it for me. I like to poke around at things at my own pace. Some things I would breeze over and some things would have me stalled as I took it all in. It's similar when it comes to my book learning. In an ideal world, that would be at my pace too.

 

 

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  • 5 months later...

Just wanted to say thank you SWB for starting this thread - and huge thanks to everyone who took the time to respond.  I've been reading through the replies and thinking and writing down my own responses to SWB's and others' questions.  Found this thread by accident and it came my way at a really good time for me to really benefit from considering these big picture questions.

 

How awesome is it to have a place to get challenged to think and respond in our homeschool life according to the really important stuff?! Fuel for the days and weeks when it can feel that we're just putting one foot in front of the other.   

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 8 months later...

I am finding some of the ideal in a homeschool co-op that employs those who are passionate about the subject their teaching. A former engineer is teaching junior high boys robotics. A woman whose native language is Spanish is teaching Spanish. A high ranking Air Force pilot who loves loves loves history has move his schedule around so that he can teach history. I guess in the upper grades, mentors as teachers is ideal. Also, I wish there were more people who were willing and more laws that made it possible for teens to be apprenticed. I had a friend who owned a remodeling company. He was excellent at his job. He was willing to take on apprentices but there were some laws that made it hard unless it was your own child. I have a son that loves computers and building them. We have a friend who has taught him some things and I have never seen my child so happy. But-our friend just doesn’t have the time. So, a network of people willing to apprentice teens in a variety of skills is my ideal.

 

 

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Edited by bethben
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