Monday, February 09, 2015

Homeschooling: Covering "Subjects" in a Non-Traditional Way

In a Facebook group for homeschoolers, the question arose: "Where can one find examples of how common, daily activities with kids fit into 'subjects'?"

I want to put together a post that goes into a lot more detail, but in the meantime, I was reminded of this old post from years ago:

From today's Charlotte Mason excerpt, found at AmyAble's new blog, A Full Life: The Works of Charlotte Mason
"One thesis, which is, perhaps, new, that Education is the Science of Relations, appears to me to solve the question of curricula, as showing that the object of education is to put a child in living touch as much as may be of the life of Nature and of thought. Add to this one or two keys to self knowledge, and the educated youth goes forth with some idea of self management, with some pursuits, and many vital interests."
One of the first things that attracted me to Charlotte Mason's ideas was this "Science of Relations" business. It matched up so perfectly with my (admittedly limited at the time) observations about how my own child learned. Anne was constantly making connections about things in her world, in our world.

Reading a book about ducks would lead to talking about baby ducks, which would lead to talking about baby people, which in turn led to playing with our own baby person, her little sister, and that led to counting said person's fingers and toes. Amidst satisfied giggles from baby-person-Betsy, Anne would ask about how God made babies, and how did God make dirt, for that matter? And did God have sisters? And speaking of dirt, could we go outside and play in some?

I could have said, "Now, now, hold your horses. One thing at a time. We can either talk about science (ducks and human reproduction), or math (counting those scrumptious little toes), or about theology, or we can go do P.E., but we can't jumble it all up like that. One subject at a time, please."

No, no, no. Anne didn't break the world into "subjects" ... that would have been absurd. All the "subjects" are connected. So, why should I attempt to divide the whole world into subjects? Learning seemed to happen more quickly, more completely, and in a more integrated way when I allowed the Science of Relations to influence our "studies."

One might argue that it's all well and good for a toddler to follow connections in an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie sort of way, (and, of course, one of the reasons I love Laura Numeroff's books is that she understands how children's minds work) but continuing to do so as they get older will just lead to ADD. Hmmm. Maybe. But, my personal experience has been that following connections and looking for the ways in which the "subjects" are interconnected has paved the way for a greater appreciation for what a real education is. For example, when we read about Archimedes were we covering history or math or science?

The kids, ahem, didn't really care which category it fell into.

I remember the first time another child asked my kids what their favorite subject was. Anne and Betsy were about 8 and 6 years old, and they looked at the child as if she were a Klingon. "What do you mean?" they asked.

I explained the whole school-and-subjects thing. I told them that since they loved books of historical fiction, they could honestly say that two of their favorite subjects were "reading" and "history." Or, because they loved to draw and paint, they could say "art." Or, because they loved to swim and ride horses, they could say, "P.E." But, really, I assured them it isn't important to break it all down into subjects. It can be helpful, especially where the Dewey decimal system is concerned (and that led to another discussion) but it wasn't necessary.

So. That's my take on today's bite-sized chunk of Charlotte Mason.

Be a rebel. Don't do subjects.

More to come soon.


Part 2 is here.


Faith said...

Love, love, love! You know where this is going!

Anonymous said...

Brava! I miss doing this so much from our homeschooling days. I still, of course, do it all the time in my own learning.

Karen Edmisten said...

Thank you, ladies!