Trust The Children

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some Wisdom From Alice at Harvard

"I'm quite content to stay here-only I am so hot and thirsty!"

'I know what you'd like!" the Queen said good naturedly, taking a little box out of her pocket. "Have a biscuit?"

Alice thought it would not be civil to say "No" though it wasn't at all what she wanted. So she took it, and ate it as well as she could. And it was very dry and she thought she had never been so nearly choked in her life.

While you're refreshing yourself," said the Queen. I'll just take the measurements. Have another biscuit?"

"No, thank you," said Alice. "One's quite enough!"

"Thirst quenched, I hope?" said the Queen.

Alice did not know what to say to this, but luckily the Queen did not wait for an answer, but went on.

("Teaching and the Case Method" p. 18.)

What are the implications of the following description of teaching, to the quoted narative above?

"How we teach is what we teach."


"The job of the teacher, as I see it, is to teach students, not how to draw but how to learn to draw. They must acquire some real method of finding out facts for themselves lest they be limited for the rest of their lives to facts the instructor relates. Thev discover something of the true nature of artistic creation - of the hidden processes bv which inspiration works."

( K. Nicolaides, Introduction to the Natural Way to Draw (Boston:Houghton Mifflin, 1941)


One does not learn to play golf by reading a book, but by taking club in hand and actually hitting a golf ball, preferably under a pro's watchful eye.

To give the map to others (as a teacher might) is to give the results of an experience, not the experience itself by which the map was produced.

The point again is, to trust that you are giving your children a wonderful gift, when you allow them the time and opportunity to follow their own curiosity and discover for themselves the depth and breadth of their interests. They not only learn, but in a very natural way, learn HOW to learn. They learn to trust in their own ability to make sense of the world on their own terms. They become strong in conviction. They get to more of the why of things than just the what. Again, this is a great gift to give to them, The more your you remove your own ego and need to be affirmed by your "students" the more room you make for their personalities to fill up the space you now make available to them. Cyndy would say there is a balance here. I agree. One thing we both value, though, is the tendency our children have, to be very comfortable teaching themselves many things, when they want to learn something. It is just amazing to watch, day in and day out.

Try it for a few weeks and watch the bud blossom. Try if for longer and the plant is truly beautiful, the fruit truly pleasing. At least that has been our experience. Trust them to learn, especially from your example of being curious and learning yourself.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

The mind of a home schooling parent

Reading success literature, like "Think and Grow Rich" or "The Secret" or "As A Man Thinketh" I am left to consider the common thread that weaves itself through all of them. It is the idea that somehow the mind is like a heat seeking missile. Once you program the computer in the missile for the target, no matter what winds blow it off it's path, it self corrects, keeps moving toward the acquired target until it finally arrives. Such a missile is constantly seeking to solve the problem, "Now that I have acquired the goal, how to I keep myself moving toward the target?" The minds of home schooling parents are like the computer in the missile. As home educators, we are made acquire targets and to solve problems.

I received a quote from Allison today that represents a target or goal for us as home educators.

"good college teaching is the kind that promises to make the teacher
finally superfluous, the kind that will lead students to want to
continue work in the given subject and to be able to have the
necessary intellectual equipment to continue work at a more advanced
level." Wayne Booth

Link to Wayne Booth Article

For me, this idea is a large part of what I would call, "My Target" as a home schooling parent.

So today's mission, should you choose to accept it.... put this idea in your mind as the target. The idea that good teaching instills in the learner both a) motivation to learn and b) develops tools that our "students" can use for a lifetime so they can learn on their own, without us. This is the target. Now, what can you do at home to see that happen in your life and the lives of your children?

I would be very complimented if you would share your ideas on this topic with all 100+ of us that read this blog.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Story Musgrave

Shuttle Astronaut Story Musgrave

Six (6) Shuttle Missions
Seven (7) college Degrees.

Medical Degree (Columbia University)
Masters in Biophysics
Masters in Literature
Bachelors in Math
Bachelors in Chemistry
Masters in Psychology

Masters in History coming

With all those degrees, there is one diploma that Musgrave missed:
He never finished High School.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What Is Instructional Design?

I have had a few people ask me about our new venture to strive for an advanced degree. The most common question is "What is instructional Technology?"

Here are a few thoughts to describe it:

Instructional theory describes a variety of methods of instruction (different ways of facilitating human learning and development) and when to use--and not use--each of those methods. It is about how to help people learn better." Charles M. Reigeluth, University of Indiana, Bloomington. It is about how to help people learn better.

That is what strikes me to the core. This is what drives me to many of my observations and conclusions. I believe people can learn better than they currently do. At it's core, one of the reasons we home school is that I became convinced that educating our children at home, especially in the early years, "helped them learn better."

Whether it was moral values, math, english, history or shop skills, the environment we have at home has helped our children learn better. It seems lately, the evidence of this is all around me. Allison at the University of Chicago continues to pour links and resources my way, to help me prepare for this academic pursuit. She is a life long learner, and it shows. David and I have regular conversations about his experience "back in school", his professors, good and bad, and his victories and near misses, all of which is very helpful to me. Tam just had her third child, Zoe and is an example of a grounded learner. Christine just finished her masters and is in El Salvador as co-country director for a health organization. Jenn and Deb are experiencing a semester abroad in Jerusalem. Jon, working to save money for school in the fall is a self directed music aficionado, with the emphasis on self-directed. And then of course the boys at home continue down the same path, their older siblings have already benefitted from.

Like Robert K. Greenleaf says of servant-leadership, our home schooling experience has by and large successfully answsered his questions: " "The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?"

It would appear that in all of our children, the Greenleaf standard is being realized. This is very encouraging at this point in our family history. The seeds of faith in the early years continue to bear fruit in observable ways in our later years, in part, because we had the vision of believing that there was a better way of learning.

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