Well, as long as we’re still here, prior to any possible impending apocolypse (perhaps of a zombie nature?), the Mitchells plan to have a wonderful and exciting year of learning starting this fall!
This is our second year focusing on a Leadership Education. I recently read a well-thought-out blog from a man who doesn’t like the Thomas Jefferson Education books and gives his reasons why. I found his arguments interesting, in a sort of academic way, as I could see he got very different things from the books than I did. More and more, I have realized that some folks like things to come in neatly-tied packages. If one ribbon is askew, or the item has a scratch or two, they return it for a full refund.
This isn’t how I naturally view information. As I hear or read new things, I pick up the things I like, put them in my pocket, and leave the rest without glancing back. I don’t care what the packaging looks like, and I actually don’t care much who’s offering the gift. This is one reason I own a copy of the Communist Manifesto and Hitler’s autobiography as well as the Quran and the Torah and Buddha’s teachings and others, though I’m actually a Mormon. And I don’t subscribe to all I’ve heard from the Mormon camp, either. For instance, their tendency (in the U.S.) to support Republican politicians. 🙂
I don’t know that my way of viewing information is better, I just mention that it is what it is.
This may be explained by the fact that I am a Rational temperament type (see www.keirsey.com — test based on the old myers-briggs tests). I think this gives me a distinct advantage as a homeschooling mom, as I can explore history and literature and other subjects (art and music come to mind) sort of eclectically, looking for the nuggets of useful information, of Truth, as mentioned in my last post. And I hope that, even though I am the only Rational in my family, I can help my kids to learn this as a skill, if not by nature.
So, what ideas do I find useful from Leadership Education? Let me list a few things:
- Student whispering — or really taking the time to meditate, pray, list and act on behalf of each individual I mentor.
- Working hard to inspire learning and be an example of it.
- Imparting what’s MINE, including my own list of classics, while encouraging my kids to find their own list of classics in every field, some of which are common to others in our culture.
- The lingo — I mention this because the anti-blog fella hated the lingo. In fact, his griping over definitions encompassed most of his dissent. But I find Leadership Education’s labels of “Core”, “Love of Learning” and “Scholar” much more practical in everyday conversation than (for instance) Piaget’s “preoperational”, “concrete operational”, and “formal operational” stages! And a million times better than the conveyer belt’s “grade 4” to describe my wonderfully individual child.
- Emphasis on quality, not conformity, or HOW to think — not WHAT to think.
- Emphasis on learning to Create, to Value and to Impact…. not to copy, count and compare.
Note: clearly, these are simple and not original ideas, but do I care that the Thomas Jefferson Education books did not originate them? Nah. It’s a handy conglomeration.
There are many other concepts that appeal to me — weekly mentor meetings, emphasis on experiential learning, the KISS principle… etc.
Anxiously Engaged in a Good Cause
Grace is 12 (and by the way, an Idealist whose cause is animals) and a Practice Scholar who is holding back into our love of learning environment for hopefully the whole academic year, so she can wind up and soar when we finally let her go :).
Noah is 10 (an Artisan who currently wants to be an orthodontist or gunsmith) and solidly in Love of Learning — a real pleasure to see as he had some serious core issues just one year ago.
Elias is 7 (a Guardian like his dad, so we are bookended nicely by these solid individuals!) and is just tipping the scale into Love of Learning.
This year, I want to grow the things that were awesome from last year, and truthfully there wasn’t that much to prune. I feel like all we need is to make the year even more full and vigorous, to see how far we can go! Once we see our limits, we’ll know where they are, right? And even then, as we bump into them I firmly believe they will retreat before us. Our motto for the year comes from this scripture:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. D&C 58:26-28
As such, I am turning even more of the educational reins over to the kids — particularly Grace and Noah, while still offering accountability on a daily and weekly and bi-yearly basis. The accountability mostly takes the form of mentor meetings with me and Steve.
We are again using history as the spine for our learning during Amber’s MINE (example MINE here), moving into the Middle Ages. We’re very loosely (see above!) following the weeks outlined in Tapestry of Grace’s year 2 (between ancient and modern) and so we’ll move from the fall of the Roman empire, through the Early Middle Ages, into the Crusades, on to the Renaissance and Reformation, and ending the year with Elizabethan England and the French Revolution, hitting some geographically broader studies along the way (like China’s Genghis Khan, the northern Vikings, the New World colonies, etc). ToG year 2 goes into the founding of the U.S. but we’ll save that for next year.
This means our science will study the advancements (or, at times, lack thereof) of the middle ages, you know, stuff like how iron turns to steel, the printing press, all sorts of things. I find I don’t have to buy a science curriculum because the kids are great at noticing something interestingly science-y, designing their own experiments and finding their own resources to study. I will be inviting them to do more scientific method and more scientific reporting this year.
Our literature will focus on things like King Arthur and Robin Hood early in the year, Fairy Tales by mid-year and Shakespeare in the spring. I find that all I have to do with literature is get lots of great books into the learning bins, and they devour them. We discuss them throughout the day and at Amber’s MINE. For composition, our fiction (and fantasy) writings will be set in medieval times. Art and Music will focus on these periods as well.
I guess I should say that when I say “focus” I mean that it remains a focus in my mind constantly, and at the beginning of the year, I invite the kids to get in the same habit. Then, it comes up many times a day… Grace is choosing a new piano piece: I invite her to pick something from a classical composer or something bard-ish… Noah grabs a blank page to draw his umpteenth Star Wars scene: I hand him a “how to draw knights and castles” book… Elias wants to do an engineering project: I suggest we construct his favorite medieval battle weapon. You know, stuff like that. We’ll go to medieval fairs, plays and events, too.
Outside of “learning time” (though all things are learning!) We’re going to continue partnering with a local school district program for field trips and curriculum stipends.
With my local homeschool support group, I’ll host a weekly meetup, and will be involved in various other events such as mom’s-nights-out, book clubs, show-n-tells, etc.
For the kids, Grace’s extras will be with the church youth group as well as piano lessons and dog and chicken care. Noah’s are with the Scouts and shooting with his dad. Elias wants to do martial arts and in the Spring he’ll join Scouts.
On a more personal growth level, Grace is increasing her personal leadership as a practice scholar in our home, Noah is strengthening his higher-level core virtues as he studies the knights and saints of the middle ages, and Elias is focusing on becoming a fluent reader so he can enjoy being a love-of-learner in our home.
As for me, I’m focusing on several writing projects this year, and I’m reading or re-reading the books on the TJEd for Teens 100 book list so I’m ready to discuss them with Grace when I give her the Teens book at the end of this year.
Now, all these plans have come as a result of some serious soul-searching and proverbial hair-pulling over the past month. It certainly isn’t easy to design a great individualized education, and to mentor three different personalities toward designing their own, but it is incredibly rewarding. I am much more engaged than I was when they were at big box school. Perhaps that was my failing, or perhaps it is the nature of that system. Most likely it’s both. But here’s the thing: I’m not the most talented or organized mom. I’m not. I just care, and that’s enough to be going on with. That’s why I think any loving parent can educate their children. It’s not about degrees or smarts or talents. At the core, it’s about love.
Live, love and learn!