Education Overhaul Step One: Reframe Your Thinking

Last night over dinner, my 6-year-old had this conversation with her Papa:

Papa: “So what did you learn at school today?”

LadyBug Girl: “Nothing; we just play.” (insert shock at him for thinking they actually learn).

Papa: “How do you learn all the things you know about then?”

LG: “From Mommy and Daddy and things I make up.”

Papa: “What do you mean ‘make up’?”

LG: “I make things up in my head and then I figure out how they work.

Impromptu "Garage Sale"

Impromptu “Garage Sale”

After I got over my initial disappointment that she doesn’t see that she’s learning valuable things in her homeschool enrichment program, I started to really think on what she said.   You see, I’ve felt the pressure to define her education.

“She’s unschooled.”  Riiiiiight.  So what does that mean?  What is my exact definition of how I’m teaching my kids?  Man, I don’t have my act together.  I have no schedule.  I have no curriculum.  I have no idea.  Seriously.  Who am I to think I can teach my kids anything brilliant?  I’m no rocket scientist.

Let me tell you a little about some of the judgments I’ve felt based on what I’ve seen in education:

  • There are educational checkpoints that need to be followed – tie your shoes at this age, read by this age, count to ten at this age. 
  • Memorization = knowledge
  • The only way to enforce learning is to test, test, test.
  • In order for life to run smoothly, education is standardized – overall, if everyone achieves the norm, then everyone is “educated.”
  • TV is for lazy parents
  • If there is no plan, there is no learning

Wow – that last one has really laid on the guilt pounds.  If I’m going to homeschool my kids, that means I need a clear agenda to lay out exactly what they will accomplish.  That has definitely not been on our calendar lately.

I’d like to take a few blog posts to really pick apart this whole “education” concept and see what our goals are with our kids.  I don’t want to lay out a pretty “unschooling is the only way to go and it’s all roses” mentality.  There are many, many ways to educate.  There are many, many ways kids will learn, and there are many, many different styles that will require different adaptations.

I want to share our story – the struggles, the successes, the bumps in the road, and the “almost but not quite” great intentions.  Ultimately, I hope we’ll make it through life with gusto and excitement and be better because of it.

I’ve been listening to the Sir Ken Robinson TED talks – they are amazing.  He talks about how we can’t just improve a broken model with education anymore.  It’s not a linear thing.  Learning…education…it’s organic.  It grows and develops in everyday life.   How do you define the right way to learn?

When you are passionate and excited about something, how quickly do you soak up more information?  How about when it’s simply required for a test?  Does memorization really equal knowledge?  If are are to create a “climate of possibility” where learning can occur (As Sir Ken Robinson says), where does our agenda fit in?

What are your thoughts on education?  Should we reframe the word, or throw it out all together?  I’m feeling more and more like the word “education” fits in the standardized school box, and “learning” paves the way for a whole new paradigm.

Number one goal this week: Define what “learning” means.

 

 

 

About Mama Rose

Insanely optimistic dreamer and implementer, gung ho to take life by the horns and learn from it! (Also fond of all things crafty or creative).
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5 Responses to Education Overhaul Step One: Reframe Your Thinking

  1. Oh my gosh, I have so many thoughts on this. Ha! You’re so right on all points. Totally agree. Phew.

    We do a weird hodgepodge of “homeschooling styles” so I sometimes feel the judgement of not going all in with one particular style.

    “What? You don’t have a plan?”
    “What? You have a plan? That’s not unschooling.”
    “What? You don’t have a set curriculum? How do you measure success?”
    “What? You’re not trained in that method!”
    “What?!? What?! What?!?!”

    We tend to have different approaches to homeschool depending on what season our life is in and/or what developmental things are happening with E. The first year, we attempted to use curriculum. And we learned alot…most notable was that sitting down and doing workbooks was not for us.

    The second year (last year), we unschooled, taking lots of opportunities to explore nature and science in the form of family hikes and trips to places E was interested in (ex. museums, etc.).

    This year, we’re shifting into more of a Montessori style because E loves it and has been chomping at the bit to explore things he “makes up in his head” specifically with math and history. He’s dying to absorb more and learn more and we’re finding that some hands on learning is the best way for him to do it.

    I have no doubt we’ll switch things up next year, too. ;)

    But we’re always learning no matter what style we’re doing that season. :D

    Hooray for individualized education!

  2. dan5747 says:

    We watched TED Talks Education (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ted-talks-education/) hosted by John Legend last night on PBS. It was awesome. One of the educators talked about teachers who claim to teach while being unconcerned about having any relationship with the students. And she pointed out that learning does not take place for children where is no relationship.

    That magnifies the opportunity and responsibility of us as parents to “teach” our children. And it’s why Clara can so quickly dismiss what happens at school as insignificant compared to what happens in the environment of her loving and encouraging parents.

    • Ashley, I hate to think how I slapped together curriculum for you and Jared when you were home schooled. I went by the seat of my pants. But if any parent has sense at all he/she can discern if they are setting a learning environment. You and Nathan certainly do that. Those kids are continually learning. And in this age we live in there is so much school curriculum that simply isn’t very important anymore. Just about every student has a calculator, dictionary, encyclopedia, Google, Internet, spell-check, etc on their phones….in their pocket all the times. It’s a whole new world out there. And I’m convinced if you have relationship and a learning environment available, kids will learn and love it. Every time I got bogged down in thinking I might be slacking in home schooling, I read something that encouraged me and helped me realize my fears were based mostly on what I thought I needed to do to emulate the classroom in school…which was NOT what I wanted to do at all. You are doing a great job…and right now the most important aspect of teaching in those little minds is to allow them to play and be children…….and in doing so, their imaginations will teach them….just as Clara said! And right now she doesn’t realize she is learning at school because they make it seem like play. Which is a GOOD thing!

  3. Does new technology conflict with or complement established teaching and learning? What is the impact on the teaching profession as we have traditionally known it? Will the power of the internet, with new innovations such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), create an unstoppable ‘avalanche’ of education reform, or are these reforms a false revolution? Can the value of face-to-face quality learning and student-teacher relationships ever really be questioned, at any level of education? Will the class room, lecture theatre, and traditional notion of education space – schools and universities – be usurped by a screen, online and distance learning, or alternative spaces such as the workplace, home, or concert-hall?

    • Mama Rose says:

      Rosemary,
      I don’t see this as a negative – an avalanche of different ways to educate yourself is a positive in my book. Being able to learn in any setting is the way it should be – I don’t want to simply put on my learning cap when I walk into a traditional education building/setting. With student/teacher relationships, I see that as any human connection. We all have the opportunity to be the student and the teacher to everyone else we meet.

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