Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mental Muscles

I have been to two conferences these last two weeks - last week to a Kumon Education Conference and this week to a Home Education Conference.

At the Kumon Conference, a speaker discussed the film Pay It Forward. I have hired this film for our family to see. Maybe tonight?

The premise of the film is - what would happen if you do a favour that really helps someone and tell him or her not to pay it back, but to pay it forward to three other people who, in turn, each pay it forward to three more - and on and on into a global outpouring of kindness and decency?

This is one of the goals of Kumon - to encourage students to pay it forward - both in education and in being a better person in our community.

At the Home Education Conference one of the speakers discussed high school education, specifically high school Science and the SAT and university entrance. As he discussed his rigorous programme, he used a didactic manner. "Your child must do Saxon Algebra 1/2 at the same time as General or Physical Science. Then Biology. Then serious Science - Chemistry after Saxon Algebra 1."

And so on.

The women around me fidgeted. We looked uneasily at each other. I know I was feeling inadequate and also bored - imagine how bored my students would be!

Then onto the dais strolled the next speaker. Her words were like a breath of cool air for us all.

Her topic was "Building Mental Muscles."

She also mentioned SAT scores and high school homeschooling.

However, she talked about homeschooling as a family lifestyle. As a discipline, yes, but also as an atmosphere and a life ( to paraphrase the educator Charlotte Mason).

The mothers in my row took an almost audible sigh of rest.Here was home education at its best - family centred while still academic and soul oriented.

I have experienced the type of education described by the second speaker - in fact, she describes a fair amount of our day to day life over the years.

And my children have grown and achieved. Are still growing and achieving. As are my husband and I.

What was this type of education? How did the speaker build mental muscle ?

She stressed seven areas -

HABITS
APPETITES
LANGUAGE
CREATIVITY
CURIOUSITY
REASON
WISDOM

All stressed via every day life, some formal work and lots of discussion and sharing of books.

5 comments:

meredith said...

Leonie, thanks for sharing your thoughts on your experiences, what a wonderful two weeks you've had!

Becky said...

I like the idea of "paying it forward". Thanks for posting this, Leonie

Anonymous said...

Im glad someone else was feeling the same way as I was Leonie!! :o) Ive come away from listening to Sally just wanting to curl up and read wonderful books all day with my dc. It doesnt paint such a bad picture does it? ;o)

love Bec

Leonie said...

Bec - I'm with you - Sally gives a cozy representation of education - cozy yet still with the goal of attaining excellence....

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