General Rambling

Thoughts for the day

1)  There is def­i­nitely a cer­tain level of insan­ity needed to home edu­cate.  At the moment my nights are taken up with read­ing about WW1 bat­tles as my knowl­edge isn’t good enough to cover it in the depth I want, to a large extent we’ll learn together but I need enough of a ground­ing to know where to start and how to grab his inter­est (think­ing tanks! — see­ing some Air­fix build­ing hap­pen­ing).  Then there are the hours I have spent prepar­ing work for the next few weeks.  Although I like his spelling cur­ricu­lum the work­sheets were poor (work for for the sake of work — not what I want) so have made my own thin­ning them down to the basics.  And Maths!  Hav­ing bought sec­ond hand there are sheets miss­ing and some used and it is pro­duced on really hor­ri­ble paper so have spent most of the day redo­ing the first approx 3 weeks, mak­ing them met­ric and angli­cised.  And adding the vom­it­ing pen­guin as Sam is much hap­pier doing maths with a vom­it­ing pen­guin on the page (I blame Pete and his really bad draw­ing!), hop­ing we can wean him off this before GCSE’s.

Vomiting penguinI am not say­ing that this is the only (or even the right) way of home edu­cat­ing but what­ever the approach there is hard work involved (being con­stantly alert to learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, taxi­ing them from one social activ­ity to another…), and at times you will find your­self doing things that pretty much any­one but another home eder (and no doubt some of those) will con­sider com­pletely mad.

2)  There is a home edu­ca­tors mind­set where almost any­thing can be turned into a learn­ing oppor­tu­nity. This came up on the Guiders Face­book forum earlier.

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What a nice idea for Mother’s Day’ say the com­ments. ‘What a pretty way to show con­vec­tion cur­rents’ I think.  Obvi­ously it is good to have new and inspired ideas but some­times need to switch off that part of my brain and just enjoy things for their own sake.

3) If any­one was tasked to design an edu­ca­tion sys­tem from scratch for today’s soci­ety I find it impos­si­ble to believe that they would come up with any­thing resem­bling the cur­rent sys­tem.  A ‘one size fits all sys­tem’ where any dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is really down to ded­i­ca­tion of indi­vid­ual teach­ers who are work­ing in a sys­tem that ties their hands behind their backs and won’t let them do their job prop­erly, is a dis­as­ter that fails too many pupils.  Many will do okay — Jack will — but of course he could do much bet­ter if he was able to go at his own pace!  The rea­son why this is on my mind is I have a whole cur­ricu­lum ready to sell on that Jack worked through but I know won’t work for Sam as their learn­ing styles are too dif­fer­ent.  Jack had a text­book and read through it, worked through the exer­cises and pre­ferred to be left alone, he liked research­ing things him­self with­out inter­fer­ence, Sam is much more an ‘active learner’ we read a lot, make things and chat while we do and han­dle stuff, do lit­tle on paper.  If I have this much dif­fer­ence within one fam­ily how on earth does a school decide on which text­books to use for a sub­ject — isn’t just the 30 chil­dren in a class, they don’t change the books every year?  Mindboggling!

And then there are the dif­fer­ent strengths and weak­nesses of indi­vid­u­als.  Most of the stuff we use is Amer­i­can and Sam would be Grade 2.  Now some of the stuff we are using is Grade 1 level, because I decided it was bet­ter to start from the start and judge level appro­pri­ate (writ­ing) or very flex­i­ble (SOTW).  Yet when I looked prop­erly at the Grade 2 Maths cur­ricu­lum (I’d bought months ago and failed to start) it is really miles too easy.  Sam isn’t a nat­ural math­e­mati­cian and I’ve bought some­thing with a lot of drill as that is what he needs but it is really sim­ple (read­ing around a bit today seems to be a gen­eral com­ment on the course).  Luck­ily I got a bit car­ried away and bought the next 3 grades second-hand so we are just skip­ping Grade 2.  But this is where home ed shines — flexibility.

4) Think­ing aloud here…one day when I have more time I am going to get back in to maths teach­ing — tutor­ing really (prob­a­bly only at pri­mary level — not up for stress of exams).  Been glanc­ing round and sur­prised at the call for it and pri­mary level but so many peo­ple have a maths is hard men­tal­ity because they were badly taught.  Maths teach­ing in schools is prob­a­bly bet­ter now than it was in the 70’s/80’s, much less focus on there being a right method to work some­thing out.  And lets face it I have tried pretty much every cur­ricu­lum out there between the boys so not short of resources ;)

5) Coor­di­nat­ing things with more than one other per­son at a time is a bit like going round in cir­cles.  All I can hope is if they are the right peo­ple then it should only be a cou­ple of cir­cuits before turn­ing on to a straight road ahead.  Plans are creak­ing into place :)

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