7/31/12

Sir Ken Robinson on Education



“We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”
Ken Robinson

I read this quote in a recent issue of the Costco Connection. The whole article was quite inspiring for this homeschool mom because most of the things he had to say about an educational system that could work, sound so much like what is possible in homeschooling. He talks about personalizing education to the needs of the student, personalizing assessment to how the child learns individually, really every point he made describes what is done in two million homes across America through homeschooling.

As I gear up for a new school year, it is encouraging to know that not only am I following what I believe is best for my children from a Biblical perspective, much research also points to homeschooling as a superior educational system.

7/29/12

Memorizing History

I just spoke at Valley Home Educator's conference on a homeschool history program that is classical, memorable and fun. One of the aspects of history studies that I spoke about is memorization.
I have to admit, most of the memorization we have done has been Bible verses and the occasional poetry selections.
My sister's children have stacks of flash cards that they have worked on memorizing for their Classical Conversations studies, but this has never been my modus operandi.
We have mostly focused on lots of reading aloud, daily Bible, and because we live on property we throw in a good dose of nature study/weeding. You would be surprised at how many interesting creatures you can find when spending a significant amount of time weeding the garden!

weeds among the flowers

A few ways we have squeezed in some memorization has been through songs. Although Neurodevelopmentalists warn against memorizing important facts that need to be recalled frequently to music (think how automatic it is to start singing the "ABC" song in your head when you are trying to figure out which letter comes after Q)we have learned a few facts this way.
singing through the States
My children participated in a patriotic concert this spring that was full of facts that they may not need to recall often, but were fun to learn. They sang their way through the 50 states and all the Presidents, and entertained many moms and dads. I think the highlight for them though was eating up all the jelly beans at the end.

7/2/12

Why Criticize the Duggars?

I have been writing for Home Educating Family Magazine for several months now. I love the layout and the amazing contributors they feature. Authors such as John Piper, Rob Shearer and Karen Andreola are all contributors. It has been exciting to be a part of it.

I was disturbed though by the Audience Soapbox article which was printed in 2012 Issue 1. This column is an opportunity for people to express a viewpoint, so some of the articles have been controversial. This months column was focusing on the Duggars though, and although they may be different from the norm, to criticize a family who are in the throes of raising 19 children just seems unfair. As Christians I think we can examine each other's beliefs but I don't think we should personally attack each other.

Below is my response.
Re. Audience Soapbox 2012 issue 1
Dulce Chale, "They Smile But Do They Laugh"
I was very disturbed by the Audience Soapbox article, "They Smile But Do They Laugh." I picture Home Educating Family to be a magazine that encourages Homeschooling families, even though the encouragement may sometimes be that being imperfect is just a part of life. However, I felt pretty upset to see Dulce Chale gang up on a very prominent homeschool family in her article. The Duggar's get plenty of flack from the secular world for being a super sized family and for sheltering their children, but for a presumably homeschool author to criticise them for having kids who seem too happy is just ludicrous. As well, from a Christian perspective God does ask us to, "serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalm 100) and to "be self controlled" (1Peter 1:13). Although we certainly cannot be happy all the time, why criticise a family for doing their best to follow the the teachings of the Bible? My 14 year old son's comment on reading the article was that perhaps Ms. Chale is not a very happy person herself.
I imagine the author's real issue is with the three ministries that she cites the Duggars as followers of. If that is truly the case, why not give biblical reasons why their philosophy is wrong and give parents real tools for dealing with parenting issues from this other perspective? It seems that people who disagree with the undeniably horrific excesses that some people who follow their teachings have been guilty of, choose to pin those excesses on the fallen human teachers instead of the fallen human parents who implement the teachings. It is kind of like saying that knives kill people. It is not the knife that is guilty but the person wielding it.
Although the author may be able to find examples of families who were abusive in their implementation of these teachings, if a person is off balanced enough that they will abuse a child, they probably would have done it anyway. Perhaps without the teaching that accompanies, regarding never disciplining in anger(TTUAC p.43) and treating your children with respect (TTUAC p.26) the results might have been worse. Although I am not a groupie of the ministries she mentions, I have seen many families benefit from their teaching.
I do understand however, that we humans can tend to excess and because of that I appreciate books such as Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson which remind us as Christian parents to always be reminding our children that God offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I don't believe that God is glorified when we allow our children to wallow in every negative emotion that they feel, reading the story of Moses makes it pretty clear what an affront that is to God. On the other hand, we as parents need to be continually offering mercy to our children even as we carefully follow God in teaching them what His word says. If God's word tells us to love, adomonish and train our children it seems that we should do our best to obey. I think this is all that the Duggar's can be considered guilty of.