Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Year-Round Sort of Thing

Breaking News!  Life is a year-round thing!  Didn't you know that already?  Well, I for one have had my head in the sand on this one and I finally realized that, *gasp* so is homeschooling!  I posted here earlier that I am on a journey to figure out what sort of approach to learning is best for these children of mine.  And, as I mentioned earlier, I'm also struggling with the concept of schedules.  These two things, "approach" and "schedules," are my central concerns.  And the breaking news above has helped to solve this apparent dilemma!

As you read at the above link, I am interested in the concept of unschooling, but only up to a point.  After further research, I happened upon "Classical" education.  Seemingly the polar opposite to unschooling, classical education is more structured and actually more purpose driven.  I won't go into detail about classical education here because everyone has their own opinions about what it really is.  What I discovered was that I am most drawn to it because of what I can teach the children.  They will learn basics which form the groundwork for understanding history, culture, science, language, and the arts.  This would be accomplished by studying Latin; Greek and Roman mythology, history, and culture; Jerusalem and it's history, culture and faith; learning at the earliest ages to appreciate good literature; encountering math as a reality rather than through 'drill and kill'; and being exposed to great works of art and music.

The way I see it, unschooling has its place, if you believe that the education of today is either cruel, incomplete, or just plain broken.  Some actually believe that unschooling is best because formal education is inconsiderate to the individual personality of each child, coercing them to choose between their self-identity or conforming to society to fit in.  I personally don't buy into that idea, not any more.  For this family, unschooling isn't the best answer to our educational problems of today.

I do believe that education today is incomplete and broken.  The reason I believe this is just take a look around.  How many people know our nation's history?  How many can actually read, write, or even speak intelligently?  How many know simple math?  How many can think critically for themselves?  How many know how to research any given subject to see if it's true or false?  How many of our graduates are able to compete on the international level?  The answers are terrifying.

Another reason I believe our educational system is broken is because we've neglected to appreciate the need to know our history, let alone ancient history.  And we all know the old saying, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."  Studying the Latin language is to give a person the keys to otherwise inaccessible knowledge.  For example, how many of us can read and understand the Latin on our country's money?  Studying ancient Greece and Rome are the keys to understanding our own country!  Western civilization was born from these two great civilizations.  Understand them, and you understand where we came from, who we are, and what could quite conceivably happen to us if we don't wake up.  Add to this the study of Jerusalem, which is responsible for the birth of our faith, which is responsible for giving birth to a Christian nation, the United States of America.

As you can tell, this gives purpose to what the children are learning.  It will stay with them and serve them well throughout their lives and maybe, just maybe, they can then effect a positive change of course for this country.  I can only hope.

This takes care of the "approach" aspect of my problem.  All that remains is the "schedule."  Since we live so far away from typical services such as stores, fuel, and a library, then I have to be prepared ahead of time.  I can give it my best shot, but it will never work out perfectly.  I need to make peace with that.  I also have to accept the fact that our unique lifestyle here on a mountain affects our schedules.  So what I'm forced to accept is that scheduling will always be a bit of a battle.  The end result is year-round homeschooling!

It's not so bad I suppose, because sometimes I just don't have the energy left to push through another school day or week.  Sometimes, a day off or even a week off is a much needed necessity around here.  Around here, we're human.

Being able to accept this will give me the strength to endure because I will firmly believe I really am giving them the best possible education.  And no, by doing it in a more formal way doesn't rob them of their unique personalities or force them to become something they aren't!  What it will do is give them the tools so many of us, myself included, have been so mercilessly deprived of!  This illustrates how I feel about classical education: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Breaking News!  Life, and school, are a year-round thing!

And the kids will learn a dose of reality, summer vacation isn't a birth right!

*  Live - do your best  *  Laugh - at yourself  *  Love - unconditionally  *

Linking to the lovely blog Deborah Jean's Dandelion House for the Farmgirl Friday blog hop #11!