Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Countdown to School: Pedagogical Passion, Part Three (updated with a Circe link)

Part One is here.
Part Two is here.

It's (less than) one week till school starts, and I'm still thinking about passion.  And perfectionism.  ("I do too eat breakfast," Dollygirl huffs.  'I just eat it later.")  One of the big controversies on Ontario news radio this week is a proposal that all public-school students should be measured and assessed for obesity, using the Body Mass Index.  "I've noticed," says Mr. Fixit, "that when our doctor uses the BMI, she looks mostly at the measurements chart.  Not at me."

Proponents of standardized tests (educational as well as physical) might want to chew on that one.

I'm thinking about something Dr. Fried wrote about in The Passionate Learner (see Part Two), about sometimes being satisfied with a "good enough" framework for learning.  Not that there isn't room for improvement, but just because you can't make everything or everybody perfect in every way doesn't mean that you've failed.  (Everybody goes through that. Ann Voskamp wrote a bestseller, but she's still feeling like a failure because her vegetable garden went belly-up.)  Classroom teachers are human beings. Homeschooling parents are human beings. Students, public-schooled or homeschooled, are human beings. We don't love them or respect our kids any less because they don't always say yippee about math lessons, or get all excited over a book that their forty-something mom thinks is wonderful, because they didn't click with a particular teacher or do as well as they thought they should have in a course.  But sometimes we're so worried about getting it all right that we don't notice the things that are already...all right.

What are my goals for lighting a little fire for Dollygirl this year (not just filling the pail)?  If it's not about dumping the curriculum, then how can I give her a bit more responsibility for getting from "beginner" or "don't care" in some aspects of learning to "pretty good" or "expert" or at least "I am starting to get interested in this?"  For instance, if I'm not thrilled about the fact that she doesn't voluntarily read a wider variety of books on her own, maybe it's time to ask her to make that a part of her school year.  It's not about nagging or criticizing...but it could be her personal goal as well as something I think she should be doing.

If I take some of what we're doing in Ambleside Online's Year 7, along with the Grade 7 objectives given in Rebecca Rupp's Home Learning Year by Year and even the Typical Course of Study lists that I used to map out language and math...and adding some "check where you are" levels suggested by Dr. Fried in The Passionate Learner (which appears to be out of stock on Amazon--how annoying)...I might come up with goals like this.  These are NOT, by any means, perfect or complete.  Just thought I'd warn you.

READING, WRITING, SPEAKING, LISTENING
  • I read different kinds of fiction and nonfiction materials (including novels, short stories, plays, newspaper articles), both during school and on my own time. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I am getting to know some classic books I haven’t read before. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I read and enjoy different kinds of poetry, and I have memorized several poems that I like. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I listen to and participate in discussions, dramatic presentations, storytelling sessions, and oral reports. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know how to get information I need from books and online sources. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • When I get an unfamiliar book, I know how to look through it quickly to see what it’s about or if it has the information I’m looking for. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know how to find prepositions, mark off prepositional phrases, and show the other parts of a sentence. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I write often and produce a variety of types of writing such as descriptions, reports, journals, blog posts, stories, poems, and letters. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I write about people and things I care about. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I write about ideas and feelings that are important to me. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can edit and revise my own work (checking for spelling and grammar problems). ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I understand more spoken French than I used to. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
SOCIAL STUDIES (CHRISTIAN STUDIES, CITIZENSHIP, HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY)
  • I know the major events in the Book of Acts, and can follow Paul’s journeys on a map. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know when and what the Dark Ages were.  ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know about the importance of religion and especially the Christian Church in the Middle Ages. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can describe life in the feudal society of the Middle Ages. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can relate my own life situation and choices to the challenges of living in the Middle Ages. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know a lot about the geography of Western Europe and England, including countries, cities, rivers, lakes and mountain ranges. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know what money is and how it works. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY
  • I know what science is, what it can and can’t do. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can outline the high points of scientific history. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can use the scientific method to carry out experiments, and write lab reports to explain my findings. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know about the theory of evolution, and the reasons many Christians dispute the evidence for that theory. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know the basic ideas of geology, rocks, soil and minerals. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know how various organisms (life forms) use food for growth and energy.  ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know how typical plant and animal cells are put together, and what they do. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can talk about atoms, molecules, and the periodic table of elements. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can describe some chemical changes.  ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I know many local birds, insects, trees, and other plants. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can explain environmental problems in my neighbourhood. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I help my family and my community improve our environment. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
MATHEMATICS
  • I know about prime and composite numbers. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can use the order of operations (BEDMAS).  ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can solve problems involving exponents. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can solve problems involving percents and decimals. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can add, subtract, multiply and divide with both positive and negative numbers. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can use ratios and proportions to solve mathematical and real-world problems. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can use estimation skills to solve different kinds of problems. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can collect, organize and interpret data using a range of methods (graphs, tables, charts). ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can figure out how to approach a math problem, and what strategies and tools to use in solving it. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can choose and use appropriate measures of length, area, volume, capacity, weight/mass/time, and temperature. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND FINE ARTS
  • I am working on improving my personal fitness level by participating in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I am familiar with the elements of good nutrition and personal hygiene. (I know what I should eat and how to take care of my body.) ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I listen to a range of musical pieces by well-known composers, and to multicultural musical selections. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
  • I can compare and contrast the different purposes of art and the ways in which various artists communicate their message. ¨ Beginner ¨ Sometimes ¨ Pretty Good ¨ Expert
I heard a sermon last Sunday, a typical 2013 message aimed at younger people, and at older Christians who are burned out on "church" and church vocabulary.  What does God want us to do?, asked the preacher.  Not "worship," at least, not in a ritualistic, formulaic way (I remember the prophets had a bit of an issue with that as well).  Not "serve," at least not if it's only out of fear.  The right answer was "love."  It reminded me of Micah 6:8, "do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with your God.".
And in the end...Dr. Fried talks about relationships.  Charlotte Mason talks about relationships.  This homeschooling and teaching deal is about relationships. It's not about the charts, and the check-offs, and the educational BMI's.  It's about loving our children, as they are, and letting them know that, first and overall.  When that's firm--then we do math.
Have a great school year.
(This is the end of the "Countdown" series.  We need some real-life time to get ready for EVERYBODY'S school next week.)

Update:  this link to a Circe blog post was just passed along by an Amblesider.  Hop on over and enjoy.

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