CM and more thinking this morning on education

posted in: Blogger, Homeschooling, Musings | 1

finished my book on charlotte mason last nite (the 2nd catherine levison one)…need to get it back to the library soon, its been requested by someone else. bad me for holding onto it past the due date knowing someone else wanted it! but i wasn’t finished! i cannot just turn it back in and not be finished! i hate that! gotta photocopy the resource pages in the back before i turn it in though.

well the good news is that i think i can happily turn back in all these other books now because they are on a variety of educational philosophies and i have decided that CM is the way for me to go. i’m really jazzed about it…but keep reminding myself that i felt this way about enki originally too. then the complexity and depth of it just overwhelmed me. but i do still feel intrigued by enki. so maybe i can find a way to merge the 2…CM and enki…we’ll see. enki is just SOOOO expensive, that i just don’t know that i’ll be able to purchase anymore of their curriculum again. and the fact that i cannot wrap my brain completely around the philosophy really bothers me. CM is very simple and straightforward and i have been able to fully understand and agree with its philosophies quickly. no reading and rereading. its really very clear, i think. i’m reading a new book now on the subject, “a charlotte mason companion” by karen andreola…got it from the library too…another excellent book, and so far pretty easy read too.

i’m going with the free CM curriculum on Ambleside Online…and tweaking things to fit us. found about a zillion egroups on CM and AO, and joined most all of them…lots of them are resource groups to get example schedules and art for printing and booklists and such. really cool to have so much at my fingertips for FREE!

bought maeven a math curriculum finally…had to charge it, but its that important. right start math was recommended by many CM’rs and sounded just wonderful! what drew me to it was several things…its made by a montessori teacher, and i like the very hands-on aspects of montessori and was told by people using it that this is a very hands-on and fun curriculum. then the fact that it uses an abacus was a huge bonus to me. i really enjoyed learning to do math on an abacus when i lived in okinawa, years ago…it was a terrific teaching tool. i’m excited that maeven will get to learn abacus too. a different type of abacus (i used the soroban)…this is how maeven’s will look. so its different…but the hands-on learning is still there. and that’s what i’m all about.

that’s really the problem that i have with so many educational philosophies…the lack of hands-on learning. particularly in the public school model. even most private schools! workbooks and textbooks are NOT hands-on. i don’t have a problem with using good ones sparingly…i’ve even bought some workbooks for maeven (felt weird, but she likes them)…but to base an entire education on photocopies and worksheets and textbooks that cram light facts on huge array of topics into one book in a dry way…that to me just spells a boring education that won’t stick.

that’s how i view the education i got. boring and didn’t stick. that’s how i view the public and most private school education and even the school-at-home that many homeschoolers use…because its essentially the same as the public schools, in my mind…although i have to say that it is worlds better to be doing it at home and take out all the negative social factors and have a loving mother as the teacher rather than a stranger who is distracted by so many personalities and duties. WORLDS better!

don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and how they want to educate their children is entirely up to them (i certainly wouldn’t want ANYONE trying to tell me how i “should” be educating my own children!) and they may feel wholeheartedly that their children are getting the best education possible…and they should! i’m just stating my personal beliefs. i have some very distinct and very deep beliefs on education. and the public school model of cramming as many dry facts into my children…as many as possible, to be able to pass some arbitrary test…in what i view as a dull way, not for my kids. i want them to be learning hands-on as much as possible…and using very good literature (what CM terms “living books”) really excites me!

really, what’s the purpose of education? the biggest purpose? to LEARN, right? so how in the world did all my teachers think that that was what they were accomplishing when very very few of the things that were presented to me in the dull ways they were presented, actually stuck? how many public school kids can later in life relay with any real understanding any of the stuff that was thrown at them in 13yrs of mind-numbingly boring rote and dry exercises? seriously, i always say when i cannot remember something like when something in history happened or who did it or whatever…i always say “hey, i’m a product of public education”…which really does explain a lot, i think. of course i don’t remember it. very little of it was ever made REAL to me.

regurgitating facts and memorizing dates and formulas that they have no relationship with doesn’t help my children to learn. it means nothing to them. i don’t give a damn about test results…when it comes down to it, all i want for my children in regards to homeschooling is for them to REALLY LEARN. i don’t care if it means that they don’t cover as much as they do in public school…because really…maybe they cover more in public school…but like i say…how much of it do they internalize? how much of it sticks? not much. so my children, to the best of my ability, will be guided to really LEARN…really develop a relationship and intimately know and understand.

take my brother, for instance…2 years younger than me (34yrs) and the smartest person i know. how did he do in school? not well. not horrid, but not well. my brother, the smartest and most book learned and life learned person i know…that uses huge, very educated words and speaks concepts that often go over my head, on a daily basis (in IMs and emails and casual phone conversations even….) my brother did NOT enjoy reading, and did very little of it in school. why? i can’t say for sure…but i suspect that it was the method of “teaching”. my brother is an AMAZING person…i seriously love to just soak up knowledge by just being around him…and HOW did he come to be so knowledgable? he taught himself! as an adult….long after high school…he became a serious book-reader. as far as i can tell he’s been devouring all kinds of complex books ever since. and not only that…but he has lived life in such a way as to educate himself by exposing himself to people and places and experiences that most of us couldn’t even dream of! he’s been around the world and back again so many times i cannot even keep track! he’s lived in many other countries, immersed himself in their cultures and languages and gotten to know intimately their people. and THEN he went back to school to learn more.

is his public school education responsible for who my brother is? are all the boring textbooks and bland worksheets and cut and paste, color-in-the-lines pre-drawn activities and cramming for tests any way responsible for this incredibly educated mind? no way in hell! he got his education AFTER he left the public schools! and i have to say that’s exactly what happened to me too!

i went on to college immediately following high school and probably did gleam some actual learning, but not much. got my degree in child development in 4.5yrs. gave me some knowledge, sure…but i really don’t value even my college education much anymore. i have learned SOOOOO much more on my own! the college education that i received, for the field that i chose, didn’t really give me a whole lot more than my public education, honestly. some, but not much.

so when people talk about college, and how important it is for their children to go on to college…i just don’t agree. if my kids want to go to college…sure, i’ll 100% support them. and there ARE things that can be learned in college…especially if you’re not completely overwhelmed. and of course there are fields that you absolutely cannot go into without a college education. but college is just not so important in my mind if they are not going in a direction like that. my husband has no college education and also did pretty poorly in public school and is just a brilliant person. why? he soaks up all that interests him–through books, the internet, talking to people…just like my brother. he teaches himself how to work the programs that he uses for his job–he’s a video photographer/editor and mainly self-taught (other than the original hands-on instruction he got from his dad as a teen…his dad does the same work and has his own biz)

i have a college degree and would say that its for the most part not really done much for me…some, yes…because child development is a topic that i can draw upon even as a mom. especially as a mom! but i don’t remember all the stuff i learned in college…i have to look up when kids do what at what ages because it doesn’t stick in my brain…i would say that most of the knowledge that has stuck is because of first-hand experience (teaching preschool at a high quality program, harmony day school in sacramento, which, sadly, no longer exists…being an intern at scicon outdoor school…that sort of thing) and lots and lots of reading on my own.

i’m nowhere near as educated as my brother…he travels a lot and soaks up things that don’t interest me so much, so are harder for me to understand…i go to him to explain to me international relations type stuff and historical info and such…he recently got his masters in international relations and i do think that level of education definitely has more stickiness to is…it has to, since that’s the point, lol.

MY point? hell i don’t know, i got off on a tangent…i guess my whole purpose is to find a way to educate my children in a way that actually STICKS…in a way that is deep and meaningful and really helps to mold them into a truly educated person. i just don’t feel that any variation of the public school model does this. perhaps i’m wrong…perhaps there are kids out there this works for…but then why is our american education system so crappy and kids are still graduating from high school not able to read? or not interested in reading? i see adults on tv shows that make jokes about how they hate to read and i know this to be the fact in many adults…hating to read…that just blows my mind. reading is so crucial to an educated life.

but not only that…HANDS-ON learning…experiential education. crucial! to build a strong connection. i can’t wait for maeven’s math curriculum to arrive! and i have silk moth eggs coming next week too…education, here we come! 😉

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