For years, the question of socialization was always the hot button topic, but lately - There's a new question in town. I'm sure most of them don't mean it in a condescending or judgmental way, but lately I've been getting asked how we teach our high schoolers. I find myself pointing toward curriculum that is really out there in abundance if you merely look for it, but as the words are coming out of my mouth - My mind is racing as if I somehow need to justify to this non-homeschooler the curriculum we choose.
I've been homeschooling since my firstborn was born, but technically since he entered Kindergarten, which was 2005. So, for 11 years I have been an official homeschool teacher. Yet, it hasn't been until recently that all of a sudden when we discuss homeschooling with non-homeschoolers, the topic of curriculum comes up.
Let's get real here homeschooler to homeschooler -
Some of us are curriculum junkies. We have to pull ourselves away from curriculum fairs because everything on those high-priced tables look so appealing to us as they come with a promise to teach our children the subject at hand with guaranteed curriculum-logging hours that the state requires.
But, at the heart of our curriculum hunt is a deeper issue. At, least I will speak for me - My goal is to educate my children in such a way that they begin to learn how to learn and not necessarily merely muddling through tackling subject by subject.
Now, I'm certainly not against boxed curriculum - If that works for the student. My point in writing this blog post is to point out how I'm baffled at the response of others who cannot seem to wrap their head around the idea that it's possible to teach high school level topics at home, whether or not you use formal curriculum to do it.
I want my children to pursue their God-given talents and bents in life.
When I began homeschooling my son, I was so excited to pull out the boxed curriculum sets, which quite frankly, taught me more about history and other subjects than I ever learned in my public education. So, I found out very quickly that I was the only one excited about learning in the manner I was presenting it - Read the text, follow the teacher's suggestions of the lesson plans, and then work through the work book activities, and finally administer a test.
Maybe that is necessary in a classroom setting where the main goal is to corral a group of children and keep them under some as semblance of order until the end of the school day. But, we are homeschoolers. This means, we are free to teach our children individually, based upon their learning style.
For some, this means throwing out the text books all together and embracing the Charlotte Mason style of living books. For others, this means diving in and tightening the reigns even tighter to enforce and follow a strict Classical Trivium style. For others, this means loosening the reigns and giving up the idea that we were even truly in control to begin with and allow the child to learn in a setting of delight, interest-led, or uncschooling.
For us, it means a combination of all of the above depending on what each child needs at the moment as they grow and learn.
I stopped beating myself over the head when it comes to curriculum choice, but it stands out to me that recently this topic comes up in every conversation I have with non-homeschoolers. Why are they so concerned about curriculum? Why does the idea of teaching a high schooler scare them so? Why did it scare me until I found myself in the thick of it? I guess, it comes down to our culture and society. We place high value on the proper style of education.
It bothers me that our society praises intellect yet has no creativity in how it delivers the ability to learn.
The question to me lately is a puzzled one, as if the one who asked the question cannot wrap their head around the fact that it just may be possible to learn great things and achieve an incredibly wonderful education without following the path of public or private prep school through college route. It seems to baffle their minds that it is possible for a mother who has a Bachelor's Degree and a father who is a musician has the capacity to provide the wealth of learning necessary to make it to or through college. They ask questions like:
-When I think of teaching subjects like Advanced Physics, I wonder how you might go about that.
-Subjects like Calculus, how do you teach them that?
It seems funny to me that in the minds of these highly educated people that it never dawned on them that there is more than one way to learn, and especially with an internet at our fingertips nowadays, it is very easy to learn whatever you want to learn right there at home. Of course, once you bring up the possibility of learning online, be prepared to shield the comments stuffed with innuendos that you are a siimpleton who may think that you can believe everything you read online as truth. (Yes, we are homeschooled, so we are naive???? We probably believe everything we read and we are never socialized - Let's just throw that one in for good measure...(insert so much sarcasm here).
A different style of learning does not mean you are not learning. In fact, it probably means you are retaining the information and applying it to your everyday life more than you would by merely listening to a lecture, reading a text book and taking a test.
My most important goal when my children began their formal schooling years, besides living out our faith, was to teach them to read. When a child learns to read, he or she is then able to learn anything. From there, my ever-changing goal is to closely observe each child's learning styles and provide them with the ability to learn within that framework while still gathering what they have learned to turn it into log-able, transcript-worthy hours.
We seem to forget that great inventors of our time, like Thomas Edison, did not thrive in this traditional classroom setting, but rather when he was allowed to tinker and think in his own style of learning, he changed the world with so many life-changing innovations.