How it used to be...
Ingenuity and self-reliance were at the heart of "old" America. Businesses were small and local, selling quality goods to friends and neighbors. People sought to be self-sufficient- providing nearly all of their own food, clothing, shelter, education and entertainment. Communities were tight-knit and interactive. Upon the advancement in coal and eventually oil, all this changed. A new centralized, managed society was upon us with much at stake.
Since school doesn't teach the way children learn, how should we teach? Education is an adventure we're on together- it's not something for a child to sit back and receive through a schooling of separate subjects arranged by strangers. It is something for each person to take for themselves, as active participants.
- Reading plenty of biographies and advanced literature- choosing the real work over the diluted children's version. Read aloud together and also some to self, analyze to one's self, then engage in deep discussions over the reading. Allow children to come up with their own questions, and make their own personal response or conclusion, rather than providing a set of pre-made questions and someone else's conclusion. Employ the use of carefully chosen copywork and dictation.
- Encourage questioning and critical thinking. Teach children how to find the answers to their questions.
- Use real tools and real life experience- not a watered-down simulation of them.
- Ask children what they wish to learn- letting them choose some things they want to be knowledgeable in, and weaknesses they want to overcome by the end of the year. This gives them an active role in their education, and allows the two of you to work together to accomplish what's important to them. By knowing that you're working with their educational priorities in mind, they should be more motivated to work with your priorities for them as well. You may also make yearly goals for them & present them at the beginning of the year. In this way, you're both choosing important elements to include in their education.
- Seek out an abundance of apprenticeship opportunities.
- Give them real work, and real responsibility.
- Seek out service opportunities. Also give children their own responsibilities at home.
- Allow for independent study and solitary time.
- Encourage self direction: "Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy..."2:43
- In summary, education should seek to multiply the connections between real life experience, people, places, knowledge, and self. The keys to rich education are exploration and self-discipline and won't be found in a classroom setting. It must be taken for one's self, not passively received from strangers. As William Butler Yeats puts it, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."