Monday, February 11, 2008

Letting go of the control in your child's education

What do I mean control? Well, just that. In modern education everything is controlled. The predetermined educational menu is formated by grades, administered by employees that take one portion of that pre intended meal and over 12 years or so produces a whole and complete education. All this sounds good if you accept the finished product as fully educated. I don't. The often quoted phrase by William Yeats states, "Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire."

Predigested informational based education allows for very little exploration or self directed learning and produces only people who know how to spit back what they have been told. Generally, schools today produce cookie cutter employees ready for the job market. Yes, we do want our children to get a job, but is that the only reason for their education? I hope not. So how do you homeschool with freedom and without control? If we can just learn to let go of the control that has been built into us by our childhood experiences (being in school) It may not be easy, in fact, I believe some may never get it. But some do. I'm probably a little in the middle, where I get it but somehow control tends to seep in again every now and then and I start seeing the symptoms of apathy in my kids and I know to back off again.

Once I found out about the 5 learning tools coined by Marilyn Howshall, in the most excellent book series Lifestyle Learning, the light went on and I started seeing my children were already learning very well on their own. I saw how I needed to back off and stop interferring in their learning process and I learned to relax. All I needed to do was to facilitate their learning and not to control it. The 5 learning tools are below I will expand on each of the following in another post. I will also share the 7 vital signs of the learning process also penned by Marilyn Howshall in her Lifestyle of Learning series (My blog's namesake)

-This must be delight directed not controlled by assignment. It can include collections, observations, experimentations, and repeated exposure to certain subject matter.
-Reading of library books and field guides on chosen subject matter.

-everyday life, documenting the child's own life experiences and spiritual lessons. Record what the child is learning, building, collecting in productive free time. (more on this later on)

Reason -
-making choices, solving problems, making decisions, practicing discernment skills and logical thinking skills.
-Learning to ask the right questions that will lead to the solutions that they seek to solve a problem, (Controlled situations usually have no problems. They all have been resolved so they are testable)

-To see a need to relate to something to real life, to see a need to know something or a subject. This is the application or a how to apply of the reasoning process

-to relate to others what something meant to them and to others.
-To communicate through the written or spoken word. Can be done through a project, narration or brief composition. (or a blog as my son is doing right now)

Many times each of these learning tools build in order on top of each other but some times you may see a child or yourself go back and forth over the tools to revisit them in order to gain more info, record that new found info and reason it's importance in the child's subject of delight. Then he may relate it with a new twist or to create a new product (Rhetoric)

Does all that make sense? If you will watch yourself, really think about how you have learned something, anything, you may find that you also learn this way as well. Although sometimes we get stuck and do not move past one or two of the tools because we have had our learning controlled. Breaking free yourself into a Lifestyle of Learning is the first step to allowing your children the freedom to do it themselves ...and it comes much more naturally to them if they have never been in school. Then, and only then, will you be free yourself and allow that same freedom to blossom in your children.

But, I must warn you. Your children will take off with this and probably run much faster than you will and leave you in the dust. When this happens try, try, try to control the insecurity and the temptation to control again in order to hold them back (get the problem with public group schools?) Let them go and watch them flourish. Let them master their subject of delight. I haven't always been able to let them go but one such time I saw the evidence of the results of the learning tools in my youngest son.

At dinner one evening, Graydon 14 at that time, had wanted to explore and study physics. So I got him a great book on physics and let him go to it. He mastered the book quite quickly and sat at the table discussing electrical terms and principles with his electrician father. I sat there amazed, (but proud.) At the end of this deep and lengthy educated discussion of currents, and voltages, electrical diagrams and a whole bunch of other terms I did not understand, I took a deep breath and made the announcement. "I am such a g-r-e-a-t teacher!" Dumbfounded they all stared. I further explained, "I did not have a clue what you just talked about so I must be a great teacher. My student has gone far beyond me and my limited knowledge and pursued much higher education in a subject than I ever wanted to go.... so I must be a great teacher."

They all agreed once they knew where I was coming from. And so can you be a great teacher too by letting go of the control and letting God lead your children's education "in the way that they should go," according to their bent, gifts and calling in their life.