This will almost sound like an apologetic regarding a few of our curriculum choices, though that is far from my intent. To be truthful, these are simply my latest ramblings about education as I pull together lesson plans for our middle schooler.
As a home educator, I think alot about my own educational process first–how I was taught, what I was taught, and the marked difference between what I told to learn and that knowledge that I sought out for myself. I think about what I want to continue when it comes to our children, and even moreso, about what I want to do differently.
I have been thinking more and more about the conceptual aspect of learning when it comes to our last student. Where is all of this “knowledge” going? What do I want her to do after we leave this table?
Somewhere in thinking about what I want, I began to define a couple of problem areas that I want to avoid:
Studying with the Bible as our foundation has always been the cornerstone to everything else that we learn. Walking out our faith in shoe leather has always been a priority for us, and nurturing hearts and heads that can articulate God’s will on this earth shapes everything that we do. There is a problem, however, when we send our kids elsewhere (i.e., youth ministry) thinking that we are somehow furthering their Christian education. It goes a little something like this.
‘Every day we see a world suffocated by poverty, and racism, and violence, and bigotry, and hunger; and in the face of that stuff, you [the Body of Christ] get awfully, frighteningly quiet.’
This is a quote from blogger/ pastor(?) John Pavlovitz. Though I don’t agree with every criticism he has regarding modern-day believers and the church, I thought he was spot-on here.
In short, we follow a savior who addressed many tough issues, but we as Believers are somewhere hiding. That is not what we teach our children.
There is also a problem with traditional education. I have to face a hard, cold fact that sometimes when our daughter says, “I don’t get it,” what she is really saying to me in spirit and in body language is, “I don’t see why I have to own it.” I saw this just recently when she was working through percents and determining what it meant cost-wise to see a sale sign that says “___% off.” As I reminded her how to work through the problems, she made some remark about how that stuff is automatically calculated when you reach the register, she just shops for what she likes, blah, blah, blah. I responded by explaining that when you own the store, you need to understand how to establish your pricing so that you don’t lose money or don’t get ripped off. (Mind you, I am speaking to my budding kidpreneur here). Silence. I could tell by her body language that my words resonated, and she continued to work through the problems more quickly with renewed determination and a desire to truly understand.
I see our daughter as I see many of her generation. In her words, ‘I like education; I just don’t like school.’ Like others of young thinking America, she studies the headlines. She wants to help, but doesn’t necessarily know how to connect passion, purpose, and our present condition. In a world where information is as close as her fingertips, but Truth can seem far, far away, she is just as likely to draw conclusions from a cute rapper if she is not encouraged to dig deep in the scriptures. After all, most of those songs are written at a third grade level.
So, there it is. I want her to know Whose she is, who she is, and what that self-awareness means in terms of the world around her. We will use our time together with some traditional tools, but we will continually strive toward relevance. Our goal is to be Christlike and conscious.
It’s one of the reasons I deviated from the standard AO-recommended Ourselves by Charlotte Mason as a character study. I enjoyed this book in reading it both times with our older two, but I think our youngest would benefit more from a shorter, straight-forward mandate for this generation like Do Hard Things by the Harris twins. I shared this book first with our Sunday School class years ago, stating a harsh reality: no one expects much of them, or of this generation. If we teach our children to stand up and be heard, they will still meet adversity in a world that has no loftier expectation of them than to sit down and be quiet. And if this is true, who will reach the world for the Gospel of Christ?
We will marry this book with other resources (though I’m not sure of which ones yet), including their blog. We will also use our ongoing staple, notebooking, to continue to build upon our skills in written expression. Speaking of writing skills, why on earth would we use Rod and Staff’s series, you ask? Well, whatever else this series is, it is one of the best I have seen regarding grammar and sentence structure. I am, however, planning to tie in Cheryl Carter’s Writing Success: Essential Writing Skills for the College-Bound Student at this level and introduce various types of writing in addition to understanding mechanics.
How about you? What are you doing to bring relevance to your time around the kitchen table/ desk/ outdoor blanket? Here are some resources that might help you with thinking about education and all of its possibilities for a young, thinking generation:
With Rigor for All (1st edition) by Carol Jago
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn
Whatever is your plan, make the days count. Memorization is one thing; affecting this world with a positive change is another.