Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lifelong learning

I believe in lifelong learning. I believe in intellectual curiosity. I believe in critical thinking.

That's why I chose to homeschool my son this summer to make up a World History credit rather than sending him to summer school. We are covering a semester of work during our summer break. I obtained a teacher's edition of the school district's chosen textbook and we are beginning to work through it, starting with the Byzantine Empire.

 I have always respected teachers for their dedication. My grandmother was a fourth grade teacher. I saw the preparation, the thought, the time that went into organizing a classroom, planning lessons, grading papers ... I thought I understood the level of work that my children's teachers went through. Then I began this project. I want to do the history, but I want to incorporate all the fun stuff -- the personalities, the art, the literature -- and there just is not enough time. We have 16 chapters to cover in 12 weeks. That doesn't account for breaks we may want to take, say, over the 4th of July or when we go on vacation in August.

 The good news is that he is learning. Developing critical thinking skills. Understanding that adding "and other issues" at the end of a sentence is a method of BS that Teacher Mom will not tolerate. Learning that random capitalization is a path to self-destruction in this particular classroom. And I am learning. This lesson of how difficult it is to fit in all the necessary stuff and find a way to fit in the fun and interesting stuff, too. How much time it takes to craft a lesson and then really discuss it so that it is clear the student is taking away something useful. How much I want my kid to succeed, and how far I am willing to go to help make that happen.

So much of life is an exercise in finding balance. I struggle with it every day, especially in the summer. Finding my 16 hours of work time in amongst my real life is challenging. I know I am lucky that I only work part time, but I sometimes feel that if my job was more hours and/or less flexible, it would be simpler. I would have fewer choices to make.

So I assign reading and head out the door to the office. I come home, throw in a load of laundry, and read the Section Review and vocab. We talk Byzantine art and architecture while unloading the dishwasher.

My own World History course was taught by the hockey coach, and he was, shall we say, not up to the challenge. I am learning right along with my son, about balance, about the world, about him and about myself. Lifelong learning. We may not always enjoy this experience of homeschooling, but I hope that my example of learning, sticking to it, finding balance, and high expectations will make a difference someday.

And if not, well, then I guess that in itself will provide another learning opportunity.

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