Sunday, April 18, 2010

Self-Directed Learning?

Our home education has recently looked a lot different lately than it has in the past. I used to set up all the children's assignments for them every day. I haven't had time lately to oversee every bit of the learning as I had previously and I struggle with that reality, wondering if they are at a disadvantage now, if they would be better served in a traditional school, if children truly need adults to tell them everything they should be learning.

But I still balk at the idea of traditional school. I like having my kids at home. I like seeing what they are working on. They like being here. And I think that education can be more than me giving them lists of workbook pages to accomplish and choosing their books for them. But I'm not the nature-study-science-experiment-hands-on kind of teacher either. Never was, even when I taught school. I'm more pencil-and-paper, more books-and-internet.

So, what's the compromise? We've been trying to hit the right balance of self-directed learning. It hasn't quite happened yet. I am still struggling with it. What I WANT is them to love to learn things and love to read and love to write and love to spend their time in productive enterprises. And I see glimmers of it. But it's not as much as I'd like nor as rewarding as I thought. Maybe that's just life, eh?

Here are some things I've been looking at about self-directed learning.

Self-Directed Learning
From the Older Kids column, by Cafi Cohen, originally published in the May-June 1996 issue of Home Education Magazine.

Beach High School:
Freedom for self-direction

Life Learning Magazine

I'm trying to get a sense of what it looks like for other people, especially in the high school years. Isn't this when a student should find a passion? Something that grabs all his interest and that he wants to master? I want to see that happen. I'm tired of apathy and tired of "this is the stupidest book ever".

Any thoughts? Input?


Anonymous said...


I totally stuggle (always have)... with "what exactly IS education?"

Does it mean that you can master every black-lined workbook page thrown at you? Does it mean that you can neatly circle (and guess) at the correct answer on a test?

Does education mean that because my son "forgets what a synanom, antanoym and homophone," is yet, can tell you facts on a pekin duck and where it originated from... he is not "being educated?"

How about, since his spelling is shameful... yet he fixed my mom's computer last night... is not educated?

I especially feel this way when I hear from public school parents about what an utterly fantastic education their kids are having. AND, I DON'T EVEN PROMPT THIS CONVERSATION.
A public schooled friend was over on Saturday... his mother was telling me what a fantastic teacher her son had... they were studying "physics" in 6th grade. Learning how to build "roller coasters" with K'nex. I let her ramble... didn't mention that my boy did that in 4th or 5th grade with co-op... and I personally thought it was a ridiculous class, since most boys can snap those thing together in no time flat and without a teacher....ANYWAY, my frend proceeded to tell me that GET THIS, SHE SAID... They're TAKING THE PHYSICS KIDS ON A FIELDTRIP TO MI ADVENTURES to see them in action!

Now, my dear... do you think the kids really want to know how they work... or are they just gonna want to run and ride and eat hotdogs on a stick????

In closing... I have no advice, except traditional school IS not the answer. According to Glenn Beck, homeschoolers do have the advantage over public schooled. Homeschoolers are getting the Truth. Traditional schools are teaching communisim and the historical facts in which they are learning are not correct.

What is education?


~Byn There said...

The challenge for me in trying the self-directed teaching is the crushing reality that my kids didn't seem at all directed toward anything except video games! I see this in kids overall, no motivation whether self- or authority-directed. It's a little scary and disheartening.
I think if you kids are truely inspired to seek their own information that is fabulous but can you make it last for more than a fleeting moment?
Good luck....I think the answer lies somewhere in between their interests and your overall agenda.