Monday, March 8, 2010

Homeschool Blog Hop #5: My teaching style


This week is to talk about our teaching styles, preferably without saying I’m an eclectic teaching style.  Eclectic meaning that you use a little bit of everything.  Which, when it comes down to it, most of us really are.  But, what do you use predominantly.
First I’ll go through, what I think are minor influences.  I have a little bit of an unschooler in me.  Not much of one, because I like to have a curriculum to go through and I also know if I were to go solely based on my kids interests we’d spend all our time learning about Star Wars, Batman, Disney Princess, and random animals.  So, that really won’t work.  But, I do like to make sure I emphasize their interests.  So, there’s a tiny bit of the unschooler.
Next, I do think Charlotte Mason is really cool.  She believes in doing lots of Nature Studies and using “living books,” which basically means books that have really good writing.  I agree with some of this, but I’ve discovered some of the books she emphasizes as living books I don’t really like.  I don’t like Winnie the Pooh all that much, and a lot of the Beatrix Potter while somewhat interesting is a little hard to read through.  If you notice we don’t read the vast majority of her books to our kids.  We stick with Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and a few of her other picture books.  The others a little harder to relate to.  So, from her I draw the using books as much as possible, I do like a lot of classic books, but I don’t feel limited to them, and I adore the idea of nature studies.  I just haven’t quite figured out how to integrate it.
Where I think I’m going to be drawing the most of my approach is from the Classical approach to teaching.  There’s a lot of this that I agree with philosophically, and I’ve noticed that many of the other styles that appeal to me a lot draw from this.
Here’s the basic idea behind the Classical style:  They divide childhood into three different learning times, called the Trivium.  The youngest is the grammar.  Basically that’s a lot of memorization and acquiring of knowledge.  This lasts through most of elementary school and at this point most kids don’t have the ability to use higher reasoning skills.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but if you ask your young child “why?” you’ll usually get back a blank stare as they try to figure out the answer to it.  But if you present information and ask them to regurgitate it they can tell you an astonishing amount of information.
Next comes the dialetcic stage.  This is where the kids start to synthesize what they’ve learned and figure out how to put the pieces together.  They’ll also start to ask more questions and actually be able to answer when we say “why?”
Finally is the rhetoric stage, high school.  Here the kid moves from putting it together and being able to start presenting a good argument to being able to argue persuasively.
So, as you can see I’ve put a lot of thought into the classical style.  Partially it works with how my mind works, I like a logical step by step order.  That and it has a lot of emphasis on science and history which are two areas I’m really interested in.  I don’t know of many educational philosophies that plan on your kids going through the entire scope of human history three times before they graduate high school, with each repeat through going into more depth.  I like that.  Okay, I like that A LOT!  Did I mention I’m a history minor?  And I will decline from getting onto my soap box about how little history is actually learned today by most people.  ARGH!  Okay, I can feel my blood pressure rising.  Happy thoughts, fluffy bunnies, and cute puppies.
I’m better now.
And, you’ll notice I didn’t say I’m a Montessori person.  I adore Montessori activities, they always look so cool, I like a lot of the ideas, but I can’t ever teach it.  Every time I try to do a Montessori activity as they’re espoused it just goes horribly wrong.  So, I’ve given up on pretending I’m any good at following her philosophy, no matter how intriguing I find it.  I guess the part I do incorporate is having my kids do as much for themselves as they are able.
What’s your teaching style?  I know a lot of you aren’t homeschoolers, but do a lot of learning activities at home, so where do you think you lean?

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