Friday, December 17, 2010

Some Lessons I have Learned as a Home Schoooling Teacher

Most of these lessons I learned from a book years before I even started educating my own children but then I proceeded to make mistakes in practise and realise that I should have followed my theoretical lessons more carefully. Sometimes you have to learn your lessons the hard way and even though we are all grown up, there is still an awful of peer pressure around to influence us too! (Don't worry I don't think we are the only adults who are influenced by peer pressure)

 Lesson 1: "The curriculum is there to serve the child, not the child the curriculum." Charlotte Mason.

So often I keep struggling determinedly with a book/curriculum that is just not working for a child - only to figure out later it is not cowardly to stop using it for now or forever - just stupid. If it does not suit the child either for developmental reasons, reasons of intellectual ability or it does not fit the child's learning style, then the time spend on it can be better used learning something more suited! Staying with the same book/curriculum that does not work is just a waste of time and is not God honouring or good use of time! If a child really cannot do the work, then it it is cruel to keep making them do it and continue ot make them fail. In the school system they would just fall further and further behind and eventually drop out and feel absolute failures (unless they got good appropriate help). This is a failing of the school system that we should not imitate in the guise of diligence! Our children should never feel inferior because they cannot do something.

Saying all that it is obvious that we should not be dumbing our children down with bad curriculum choices and implied it is obvious that we should not being doing worse by not choosing any curriculum at all as I sometimes see in the context of unschooling where the parents are too scared to actually choose a curriculum and stick with it because the child has a BA ( bad attitude) towards doing anything anyone else wants them to do. Such learning is not true learning - but simply teaching a child to resist authority, walk their own paths with no thought of anyone else and to resent anyone helping them in life, in case they have a higher authority over them or should dare spoil the fun. Coming from Africa I have so often noticed - Life is not all about fun unfortunately! The people who just have fun only in Africa often land up depressed and/or begging. The dole cushions this a bit here, but a work ethic must be encouraged in all children if they are ultimately to be truly happy. Children are most happy learning to do their best.

Lesson 2: Real learning is not just passing an exam/test or doing a bookwork well, it is what effects your life in a significant way! That life changing effect is the goal of true 'education' in the best sense of the word. It is not about intellectual outcomes, it is about how a child grows into being a beautiful adult able to enjoy the world adn contribute to the world!

Children can do all the book works perfectly, pass an exam really well and forget about the topic for the rest of their lives. Getting such 'proofs of schooling' done is not always the most effective way for your child to retain knowledge and for them to love what they have learnt, seek to learn more about what they have learnt and actually have the ability to apply it to their lives well. As important as 'proving ourselves' as good home schoolers might have to is not the most important emphasis in educating a child properly!

Life is far more important than that!

Lesson 3: I am ultimately responsible for the education of my child. This is a God given responsibly and to be taken extremely seriously - it is a huge responsibility!

 Now before you right me off as a 'religious nutter' - bear with me ....instead of this principal giving me freedom to 'do what I like' as some may interpret it - it actually pulls me in quite the opposite direction, it tightens the reigns and gives me less leeway to divert to the left or right. I have no chance of being lazy or slack if I bear this lesson in mind seriously - quite the opposite.... everything has got to be done with excellence and determination.  Only the very best is good enough! Such a principal properly applied makes for the best educators in the world!

Lesson 4: You can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

I become more and more aware of this as my children get older and finish home schooling. Their education is just that - their education and is intricately involved in who they are as people.
They decide if they will be lazy or diligent. You can do your best to guide them in the right direction to motivate and inspire them but you cannot ultimately live their lives for them. They have decisions that they must make themselves.  And you are left behind to love them to bits, encourage them, provide for them, provide a sounding board for them, give them a safe place to test and experiment with 'being grown up' and to always be there for  them no matter what. And last but not least you are there to pray for them for the rest of their lives. You are ultimately their servant, their helpers if you understand it in a respectful sort of way. Note I did not say slave - you are not at their beck and call to do everything for them but rather you are there to give them the best start in life - and that involves setting boundaries too, which brings me to the next lesson.

Lesson 5: Kids find security in clear, kind boundaries.

And to not set them is cruel, as glamorous as it may seem at the time. kids like to know that you will stick to the boundries you set them. I could not say it better than these people:

Lesson 5: Love is the most important part of teaching!

Jo Organised a Master Chef Cooking Class for his friends with Granny.

Teaching is about a relationship that is conducive to proper learning together. It is a lifestyle of enjoying each other in a wonderful world of many interesting things.Without love it is merely doing what the government expects and requires you to do. Teaching at it's best is about helping to make a person beautiful, happy and fulfilled in the ultimate  intellectual sort of way and well rounded in every other sort of way.

It is the most fulfilling as well as the most difficult of jobs to do well. Happy Teaching!

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