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The perfect education January 21, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, gifted, homeschooling, older son, societal commentary.
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Over the weekend, we brought the older boy down to Minneapolis to hang out with his pals from his previous school. I enjoyed this as I got a chance to hang out with their moms. I talked about this on my old blog, but they really are some fantastic, intelligent women.

As we often do, we started talking about the boys. The youngest of them is still in the old school, the oldest is in a ‘regular’ high school, and of course, my son is doing part-time high school with part-time homeschooling (which will hopefully become part-time college next year).

Each of these arrangements has it’s drawbacks.

I know there’s no perfect way to educate a kid. If you take one kid, the best way for them to learn may be to have complete independence and let them focus on their curiosity. Another kid may be overwhelmed with such a prospect and does better with a bit of guidance and structure. Every kid is different.

I find it interesting that the oldest boy’s mom would complain a lot about the math program our sons used at their old school. She said her son didn’t learn anything from it. However, I found that my son has done far better with this program than any other method I’ve tried. We’re continuing to use it for homeschooling, although he may only have another year of using it.

On the other hand, I watched him struggle heavily with learning a foreign language on the computer. In his first quarter at the high school, he progressed more than he did the previous year with the computerized instruction.

It’s interesting that the youngest boy, who still at the old school, is quite unhappy. Socially, I think he’s better off than either of the other two boys, but he’s frustrated with the lack of structure and feels like he needs to learn more than he is. Unfortunately, he feels overwhelmed with the prospect of learning everything on his own. However, I have also seen kids at that school who have done things that I could only have dreamed of doing at that age. Some of these kids are writing novels and making fantastic science fair projects…with only minimal guidance.

I am not comfortable seeing kids left on their own to figure out their education. I do think there are some kids who operate quite well that way: they are very independent and would find structure to be stifling. On the other hand, the prospect of teaching oneself everything they want (and sometimes need) to know is overwhelming for another kid. That doesn’t mean, however, that putting that kid into a completely structured environment, like a regular high school, is ideal, either.

My personal feeling is that most kids do well with a little of both: they need to have freedom to choose at least some of the things that they want to learn. How they learn then becomes an issue of individual preference. Some kids will take off as soon as they know what to do, hit the library, start building things at home, etc. Other kids really need to be prodded: they will not progress without external guidance and prodding regardless of the fact that they really do want to learn something. Most often, that is a result of a frustration with the method of instruction rather than ‘laziness’: how they learn may not readily assimilate the material as it’s presented. Unfortunately, there are not always better ways to instruct someone in certain areas.

I think the perfect education is different for every person. It would be so much better for everyone if we all had the option to try different things and learn what helps us progress. One of the most important parts of education should really be about learning how one learns.

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Comments»

1. Chris Gammell - January 21, 2011

Next time you write about multiple students/sons, can you give them names, even if they’re fake? It’d be easier to keep them all straight. i.e. Johnny was homeschooled, Aaron is at the old school, Johann is entering the music conservatory, etc.

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mareserinitatis - January 21, 2011

Oops! Sorry. I went back and tried to clarify a bit. I hope that helps.

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2. Fluxor - January 21, 2011

I agree. Use pseudonyms, like Chris, Christopher, Christina, Kristina, Kris, Kristoph, Christ, Christo, or Crisco.

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mareserinitatis - January 21, 2011

Why do I have a sudden craving for cookies?

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