Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making Sense of it All

So we are homeschooling. Obviously. There is so much to sift through. Homeschooling is a personal thing; the cliche "what works for everybody may not work for you" is so completely true. I am currently attempting to put together our own compilation of different books to make up one cohesive year next year. In that attempt I have read up on what KIND of homeschool we should be running--and therefore what curriculum would fit us best.

I quickly ruled out unschooling because that just does not make sense to me and I do not agree with it's premise: that children can lead themselves throughout their education.

Charlotte Mason sounds good. I read one of the books in her Home Education Series (that is a long series!). I like it, I just do not like the goal of spending only 15-30 minutes per subject. (quoting from memory, but it's a short amount of time.) I love her ideas of living books; habits, especially the one about correcting bad habits (writing 5 backwards) immediately so that it doesn't have a chance to sear the wrong way on the brain, surrounding the children with unbroken, good things so that they are trained to love good and beauty; letting the children loose to go play and explore without parents hovering (that was my childhood; we were literally let loose on 80+ acres of field and woods and I learned so much); and I love the way she seems to strive to nurture the souls of children. I love that.

(neo) Classical education sounds good. I read The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I loved it. I love the scope of it. I don't even think I can articulate WHAT I loved about it concisely except to say that it put feet to what I had been starving for in my own education ever since middle school. I hated that I didn't know grammar. I hated knowing that I did not know how to diagram a sentence. Who diagrams sentences anymore in this culture? Nobody! That is what I was told when I said I didn't know how; obviously, not by my teachers. I think I was taught at some point. I hated knowing that there were high school level classes out there like critical thinking or dissecting and discussing Great Books to great depths that a friend of mine was taking at his private school but I had no access to. Not knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but because of the way it changes the very way you think. Once that changes, you have tools! Tools I just never felt like I had. In hindsight, I have been educating myself after high school when I realized just how mediocre it is to "get through." It was not enough. It was not my teachers' fault. Maybe they educated me enough to set me at the beginning of a path with the skills and ability to KNOW that what I had was not enough. I still feel like what I have is not enough; not in a whining, complaining, woe is me type of way, but in an I am thirsty to learn more every single day--about anything--kind of way... I think it's just my personality? I want this for my children; a rigorous complete education. (But really, who doesn't want that?)

So comparing Charlotte Mason (CM) and Classical Education has been interesting. I found this site on Susan Wise Baur's site through a friend that compares the two. It basically says that CM is a neo-classical approach to education. For my purposes, there are differences--short time chunks to study each thing, CM does not favor memorization quite as much--that were laid out in which I tend to lean away from CM, but there are a lot of similarities. I also, to get both sides of the story, read this comparison on the Simply Charlotte Mason site.

I looked up Dorothy Sayers who's speech titled "The Lost Tools of Learning" seems to be the source for a lot of the neo-classical "revolution" for lack of a better word. It's really interesting to then read this article that is completely opposed to Dorothy Sayers and written by William Michael. He has some pretty rough words for Dorothy Sayers' followers. She apparently is a horrible role model for Christians (daughter of a pastor so had an upbringing with Christian values, had lovers and a child at the age of 30 that she sent away to live with a relative so that she could maintain her "christian" public image. She has no real legitimate credibility that would allow her to be making educational reforms with any sort of authority. Very interesting. He basically is saying that she proposes nothing more than a new modern education with a lot of old names attached to them. Very interesting to chew and then digest what I think about if an unapologetic (big assumption on my part) sinner's advice on how to do something that she has never had to do is worth anything? How much am I willing to base my kids' education on her opinions? The book The Latin Centered Curriculum by Adam Campbell seems to satisfy William Michael's definition of real classical education. I found that I agreed with a lot of it and was inspired. I found it a relief to read through a book about home education without getting a huge diatribe about the evils of public school and the condemnation to any parent that considers it as a possible choice. The Bluedorns' book Teaching the Trivium was so irritatingly condescending that I couldn't even finish it. I want to read up about Blessed John Henry Newman and his educational ideas. Who knows where that will lead me.

I am currently reading The Core by Leigh A. Bortins. It's convicting, but isn't really saying anything new yet.

I've kind of landed on what we are doing for each subject; a lot of what is used is recommended by the Well-Trained Mind. I feel confident that it's going to bring us where we are trying to go. I feel confident that it's going to give a great education to my girl. I am a little disappointed because for some reason I assumed it would be cheaper to put together my own "package" of curriculum than to order a complete one from My Father's World. It's about $20 cheaper, but I assumed it would be a greater savings. $330 still seems a cheap price to me for the experience. It's still cheaper than what we spent each month for public school preschool!!!! :) There is the silver lining. There always is one!

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