Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reading about Education

I recently finished yet another book about education. Over the years I have read loads of people's thoughts on what an education is, the trouble with the public school system, different approaches to teaching, the importance of certain subjects and how they should be taught.

The most recent book I finished is called The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education. I can't say this book told me anything I hadn't already read before. Especially since I already agree with much of what the author says and actually practice much of what she describes.  I don't think this book even comes close to teaching what a Classical Education looks like when you compare it to The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. I read Bauer's book before Sophie was even old enough for Kindergarden so I can't help but think of it first when I consider Classical Education. I check it out of the library at least once a year to revisit the lists and ideas presented.

Another book that also presents Classical Education but calls it Leadership Education because the approach is a little different  is A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century.  I say the approach is different because this book doesn't give you lists of things to do for each grade level but instead gives you principles to use as you explore all the many different subjects out there.  I really LOVE the principles of Leadership Education and try to incorporate them into our schooling. I have read many of the other books written by DeMille and others that follow this approach and can see the benefits but I felt like I needed to also look to other sources in order to gather ideas for the day to day subjects and methods that I should guide my children toward and study with my children.
I found this guidance from Charlotte Mason.  I have borrowed her Original Homeschooling Series, book by book, from the library and work my way through them.  They are rather long and hard to get through but I have had more luck with books written about her methods than with her original works. I really need to get them again and reread them but I do revisit For the Children's Sake and A Charlotte Mason Companion.  I have both of these on the shelf and I reread them often, especially when I feel like we have run off track and need to come back to the path.

To me Charlotte Mason ideas and the principles of Leadership Education seem to coexist well together.  Charlotte Mason is a little more "school" like than Oliver DeMille describes in Leadership Education but since I am the teacher, principle and school board for my home I can make my house look and act the way I see fit.

So I am sure I will keep reading and rereading books about education. I glean ideas from each, either in an approach to a certain subject, or simply help me look at where we are headed and point us toward the path I want to follow and that I feel is right for my family.

So after reading through this latest book. There are a few things I liked that I really want to do with my kids. In The Core, the author describes what she does for Geography.  She has the children draw the maps themselves.  Right now we look at maps and we even color in maps that are in our Story of the World Activity guide but I really like the idea of laying out the grid and having the kids look at the map and draw that continent or country and label the cities and land formation and such.

One of the things that bothered me about what The Core emphasized was Memorization. Now I do have my kids memorize things. They have poems and scriptures that we memorize but I haven't placed a lot of emphasis on ingraining the dates of a time line into their brains.  I feel like the kids remember names, dates and events because we have covered them enough so that they remember it without me having to tell them to memorize it.  For me it is better to have a general idea of the time period then to know the specific date something happened. Especially at this young age.  In her book she kept using words  that made it sound like kids enjoyed memorizing or were thrilled with the drills she conducted with them.  She must have different children than I do because my kids don't like to be forced into much of anything. But when something is introduced and revisited enough through the course of our unit, the kids learn it without being forced.

I know every home is different and no one approach is right for everyone. I certainly don't subscribe to any one philosophy or method and reject all others. I read as much as I can and take what I like and leave the rest. There are a number of books I revisit often for inspiration or reminders but most I am glad I just checked out of the library.

Here are a few more good ones to see if your library has.

I know this isn't an exhaustive list.  I know I have read many many more.  Are there any that you suggest?


Desiree said...

I need to read some of these. My first read when I started homeschooling was Thomas Jefferson, and I loved it. I have tried to read some of the Charlotte Mason works, but like you said it is a bit difficult to get through. I do love Charlotte Mason learning though, and have enjoyed reading Pocketful of Pinecones, a journal about Charlotte Mason homeschooling.

Cellista said...

I've heard fabulous things about the geography chapter in The Core, but it's good to know the rest of the book doesn't compare to WTM. My library doesn't have it, but so far I think I'll wait rather than buy it. I read one of Rafe Esquith's books last year and really enjoyed it. I should look for the one that you listed. I should really read Charlotte Mason. I've only read bits and pieces. I don't get a lot of time to read though, and right now I feel like I need to read up on history and science so I can stay ahead of the boys, rather than books on teaching.