Sunday, July 17, 2011

Impressing Learning

My father smoked a lot when I was a kid. Everyone in the family wanted him to quit, and many methods to convince him were employed, but he wouldn't hear of it. Some time after I started dating my husband, he did quit, quietly and on his own. His epiphany came in the form of a PSA. It said that people who smoke are addicted, and if you smoke, you are an addict. He didn't want to be an addict, so he quit.

As the saying goes, when the student is ready, the master appears. As much as we care about others and want the best for them, it is very difficult to tell them what we think they should do and expect them to listen. It's true that we can force them to our will from time to time, but my feeling is that anything forced is not going to be embraced wholeheartedly. And if an action is not embraced, it will not make a lasting impression since the decision is not owned. People are hard to change. Change comes from within. There is a need to be open to a new way of thinking.

This is also true of homeschooling my children. I could force them to learn what the state arbitrarily tells me must be learned at such and such age, but I choose not to. Instead, I try to help them learn the way I would have wanted to learn, through stories, games, and challenges. When Marina was younger, I started teaching her history using the classical model, beginning at the beginning. This made so much sense to me. I had never learned early history, myself. Until high school, I learned American history from Columbus until some point during the Civil War. Suddenly history was not a boring textbook presenting one perspective. I learned as much as she did as I looked up books about the mythology and folklore of other lands. Nonfiction picture books became our favorite mode of learning. We enjoyed learning about history, and this has stuck with her through the years.

When I tried to teach Chase reading, I realized that he had a harder time getting it. Reading was an excruciating task, and usually ended without any retained memory of the book. It wasn't until I allowed him to read graphic novels based on classics that he finally started to warm up to reading. I waited very long to do this because I believed what all the teacher's manuals told me, that comic books were a poor substitute for real books. When I finally followed my intuition and let him read what he was interested in, I was eventually able to convince him to read books without pictures. There is a need to feel confident before you can take on a challenge.

My challenge with Sierra is becoming math. No surprise, as it has been a challenge for each of my children, as well as my own challenge. I try to make math friendlier by pointing it out in our daily lives, by playing Sudoku in front of them, and just by being open to math myself. I want to be an example for my kids. I remember math being painful in school, endless pages of question after question without any reason except that it was practice. My writing hand would hurt and my head would grow tired from figuring one sum after another. I was told there were patterns, but I didn't see them. That wouldn't come until I taught my own kids, more than a decade after I had taken my last math test. I am trying to make Sierra less afraid of math by trying to help her see the patterns while she is young, by explaining the "why" behind showing all work, and by letting math be part of life rather than apart from it. Because I learned all this on my own, when I was ready. It was not something I could be told to do.


Angel R said...

Before history started to be reorde some 3,000 years ago, there was human life and many other forms of life. Eah culture, whwther advanced or not, had different verssions of how we started. No one knows for a fact if we were reated or we were the creators. Someone developed the theory that we were created by a Higher Power and the belief has spread throughout our world. The evidence, after many enturies of beliefs, still remains at large.A deefinition of belief can derive from "BE LOVE". And we know that love has has procreated or cocreated about 6.5 billion others just like us.
As we become cnscious of who we are, our minds transcend new and expanded realities. Our onsciousness is not defined by the number of subjects we learn, but by the values we bring to bear on the quality of existence of our universe.
I love you,

christinethecurious said...

Just a math resource, nothing cosmic: you and the kids may love some of the books and activities at

Carol Topp, CPA said...

Thanks for sharing this on the Carnival of Hoemschooling!

Inner Elder said...

How wise, how true! I remember happily pursuing the study of medieval history once I finished college and could learn what I wanted. Love, Mom

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