This month it's my turn to lead the discussion for our home school book study. Being involved in this way, at times, seems like too much to add to my already busy days as mother, teacher, wife etc. But I do believe that without this 'deadline' in my life, the books I meant to read, would sit on the shelf and collect dust, and 'school' (a.k.a. life) would quite possibly grow stale here at home. Let me give you a little taste of the beautiful words that have inspired me lately to strive to reach higher.
"Even the divine authority does not compel [think: bribe, nag, guilt etc.] It indicates the way and protects the wayfarer,and strengthens and directs self-compelling power [a child's will-power].
It permits a man to make free choice of obedience rather than compels him to obey."
"Perhaps parents, great as they are and should be in the eyes of their children, should always keep well to the front the fact that their authority is derived." [from God]
"...the study of the lives of great men and of the great moments in the lives of smaller men is most wonderfully inspiring to children, especially when they perceive the strenuousness of the childhood out of which a noble manhood has evolved itself. "
[Think: character training w/o the weekly character quality/bulletin board/coloring page.]
"The moral impulse [to do good]having been given by means of some such inspiring idea [from the lives of great men]... the parent's or teacher's next business is to keep the idea well to the front, [of a child's mind] with tact and delicacy, and without insistence, and to afford apparently casual opportunities for moral effort on the lines of the first impulse."
"Again, let us keep before the children that it is the manner of thoughts we think which matters; and, in the early days, when a child's face is an open book to his parents,
the habit of sweet thoughts must be kept up, and every selfish, resentful, unamiable movement of children's minds observed in the countenance must be changed before consciousness sets in."
You know how when you’re out somewhere and someone asks you a question and you kind of fumble through your answer, then when you get home you can think of all the things you could have said? (Why is that, by the way? )That was me a few weekends ago.
I went to an all-day workshop to keep my teaching license current. Someday I may end up back in a classroom, you never know. I love that I get to keep in touch with what is going on in the teaching world outside the walls of my home school ‘classroom’ in this way.
Our state’s board of education has a research group that puts together information based on what is happening in our public schools. They put together these workshops based on that information in an effort to present teachers with what they see as the most critical for them to know and address in their classrooms. That alone is interesting to hear, as is sitting in a room full of teachers hearing them discuss their needs and opinions, as much or little as the trainer allows.
This one was held in a local high school building that is pretty new, a large brick structure with hardly a window in it. They scheduled us with no breaks between sessions, and after a long day under fluorescent lights, I was craving some fresh air and sunshine! Many things from the day struck me.
During lunch we listened to a presentation on Math. I have been pondering this book on math via Mason's philosophy for a while now. In the session teachers at every level were urged to not skip the word problems at the bottom of the page, and to work on students’ deeper understanding of number relationships first before the formulas given in the book. Though it wasn’t expressed this way directly, it was obvious that even the state’s studies are showing that oral language is how our brains were made to learn, yes, even math!
One of our other 5 sessions was labeled Positive Behavior Strategies a.k.a. classroom management. We talked about rules and consequences, how each teacher needs to establish clearly and re-teach the rules as often as necessary to manage the behavior outbursts in their classroom. The example given of 4 rules in a class was “Be Prompt. Be Polite. Be Positive. And Be P… “ (something else, I forget.) The presenter told us how every behavior a child does can fit into one of these categories which the child can then be held accountable for. I understand that there has to be some kind of a system in place when you gather that many children in one building all day and expect things to run smoothly. Yet, I kept sensing that somehow this whole approach is not treating a child as a person. I wanted to ask, “If someone kept repeating those things in your ear, how would you respond?” Don't worry, I didn't.
What I should have brought up when she asked us if anyone had a good example to share of a set of rules they saw in a classroom, is the PNEU’s student motto: I am, I can, I ought, I will. Just the way it is phrased is in such that the ownership of the behavior is on the child. This phrase can help replace negative thoughts and overcome difficulties. It leaves me feeling way more empowered than having someone remind me every day to ‘Be Polite.’ I wonder at what age Mason introduced this and how it was taught in an inspiring and not derogatory way.
The attendees in the “Behavior” session gave numerous examples of even kindergartners they had heard saying “I can’t do that. I’m not good at ____” a certain subject. Heads nodded in agreement that it’s too young to already be carrying that load! What I see in Mason’s motto is that it speaks truth. ‘We are God’s workmanship’ and ‘For God so loved the world’ are phrases come to mind. We need to train children from little on to embrace who they are as children of God so that they can have strength through trials. We need to tell them that struggles will come, but that they have a choice of what to make of those hard times. I’m still curious how that room full of teachers would have responded to this twist on the traditional set of rules and procedures in a classroom setting.
One more thing about my day in teacher training: Have you heard of the ‘flipped classroom?’
Take 4 minutes and watch this: Goomoodleikiog 4 Students
Our last session of the day was with a trainer from ISTE , who is also an elementary teacher. It was about integrating technology into the classroom. We were given ‘tools’ for using technology in classrooms whenever possible, with the idea being that, kids are on their ipads or cell phones etc. all day anyhow, so why not show them the educational side of those things in hopes that they will opt for that over games when they are at home too. Our trainer said he was not allowed to field questions about why teachers and schools are being pushed to flip their classrooms, because the training time was for the 'tools'.
His point was, “Kids love it;” technology IS coming, so embrace it. He used his classroom as the example while handing us all the links we needed to follow suit. He has his students watch the pre-recorded lesson as many times as they need to. They then submit their assignments as Google documents, visible to all other students for peer critiquing. Assignments are posted on the class blog and when completed are linked there so that all parents, and the administrator etc. can see how children are doing. For the weekly video assignments, kids take home the class cameras and tape themselves. These are put on the site too. At this rate, he said, a child’s entire education will be documented and accessible online, so college entrance exams won’t be necessary. We will just hand over our kid’s file and password to whichever college they wish to attend. Imagine a pencil and paperless classroom... (enter twilight zone music here.)
Check this out: 21 Things That Will Be Obsolete By 2020.
I just have a few questions: Where do home schools fit into this? Will we to try to measure our child’s learning against what a certain school or state education system is doing? How does our God-given role as the parental authority figure over our children come into play in all this?
Yep, my day as a ‘teacher’ with the state’s education system left me much to ponder…
"I am recording this so that future generations will also praise the Lord for all He has done." -Psalm 102:18
I am a mama to 2 sweet brothers who aspires to a "thinking love" toward my children.
Take a peek into our journey towards a living education inspired by the writings of Charlotte Mason.
Be sure to leave me a comment if you're inspired!
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Instead of T.V.
Librivox free audio books
Seeds of Family Worship
Bible verses put to song
Storynory free audio stories for kids
Storyline Online- famous faces read books to kids
Mister Rogers- episodes online
"In this field small efforts are honoured with great rewards, and we perceive that the education we are giving exceeds all that we intended or imagined.”
“It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.”