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By Popular Demand: My (and apparently everyone else’s) Thoughts on Education

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The origin of the term pedagogy, which is the science and art of education, is the Greek expression that means “to lead a child”. I firmly believe I can’t teach anything to a child, but I can facilitate their learning. I, or teachers, can lead the child on the path of learning, but can’t make them learn.

So my educational goal is to give the child the tools to be able to seek out and obtain knowledge independently and to enable him to be curious about the universe enough so that he would want to seek and obtain and apply the knowledge. To achieve this I do my best to build on the child’s natural curiosity. Fostering that curiosity is also important.

One of the things I’m blessed with is having my kids grow up around books. Lots of books on lots of topics. They always had access to the books they were interested in, and always got the guidance they needed for not-absolutely-age apropriate books. My 10-year-old is busy reading A Brief History of Time, with the help of his older brother.

We also use television to our advantage. We watch Doctor Who, and we talk about the time period he visited, or the probability of life on other planets. We talk about what life on other planets would be like, using our knowledge of physics and biology. My kids prefer National Geographic and History Channel over Cartoon Network. Some of the weird shows, like Storage Wars teach random information to my children without them realizing they learnt something about history. And Ancient Aliens? When they hear about some historic event or place, the older ones Google it, and collect information… without taking the little green men–or grey ones, as it’s frequently pointed out in the show. The idea behind it is that my children learn to take things coming from the media with a pinch of salt, and refer to multiple sources to make up their minds.

I also find it important to prepare my children for the big tests they need to pass: the Bagrut (Israeli matriculation exams) being the most important one of these. They need to be able to apply their knowledge, and be able to test as well as well. It’s one of the facts of life: their knowledge will be measured and ranked against others, and that can only be done in certain formats. So my children need to be ready for that as well. If it means they have to learn facts and subjects they’ll never need in their adult lives, so be it: sometimes we all do things that need to be done even if they won’t matter in the future.

While I find it very important that my children should be taught according to their personal needs and measure their progress against themselves and their abilities, they need to learn that the real world, especially the workplace, doesn’t work like that. They need to be prepared for corporate life or running a small business. Having work experience for the older kids is part of our education package.

Of course the secret is that there is no one sure method fitting all children-even children in the same family. Some do better in a school environment, some do better in a homeschooling situation, some with disabilities are least restricted with full immersion, some progress better in a sgregated special ed environment.

All in all, my education ideal is simple: let the children learn how to learn and let them prepare for adulthood with as much creativity as possible.

 

One Response to “By Popular Demand: My (and apparently everyone else’s) Thoughts on Education”

  1. Cinnamon says:

    You have the educational philosophy espoused by virtually every other homeschool parent I know. What I find interesting is the outworking of that philosophy. You, I believe, use workbooks. Most other homeschool parents view them as anathema because they are pedantic. Others with the same philosophy revile unschooling and embrace orderly, sequential nature of workbooks. What makes the difference?

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