Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Classical Unschooling

On the weekend, dh and I attended a homeschool conference. The keynote speaker was John Taylor Gatto.

Now, as much as I enjoyed John's talk, I admit to preferring his books to his talk.


Well, his books offer his experiences as a different teacher in the US public schools; show us what we can learn from his experiences and how schools can also learn from homeschoolers.

His talk, however, came across as knocking schools .I am just not into that. I think we need educational diversity, to suit our different children and families and communities, and I know that for some families school is a good option. Just as homeschooling and/or unschooling are good options for other families.

I also spent money at the homeschool conference - no news, right? I bought some new novels for the kids - Thomas and Anthony in particular are avid readers so new books are always welcome.

I purchased a book by Andrew Campbell - The Latin Centred Curriculum. I have read about this book at various homeschooling sites, so was pleased to have my own copy.

Campbell argues for a classical education, in an historical sense of the term. Studying a few subjects deeply and not necessarily studying a myriad of subjects in a shallow way.

So, I am back to thinking about the goals of education. I guess I like reading about education and pondering these ideas. I share my ideas and passions with my dh and children. They share their passions ~ I share mine ( fitness and education and books and movies and history..).

I am reminded that I like the passion of unschooling with the living books and good habits of educator Charlotte Mason and the idea of Latin and the classics from a classical education...

I hae always had a soft spot for author Laura Berquist's thoughts on goals, on ultimate vision for homeschooling. For us, it is family centred education, with freedom to explore interests. And, as Berquest states in Designing Your own Classical Curriculum, "..I knew that I wanted ultimately what we all want, the eternal salvation of my children. Academically, I wanted a truly Catholic intellectual formation. I hope to instill ( I would add - encourage, as children seem born to love learning).. a lifelong love of learning and to give my children the tools to pursue that learning."

Berquest goes on to describe her goal that her children should be equipped to attend an excellent university, and do well there. Again, I add - if they so choose. I certainly have valued my university education and wish my children be prepared for the same, if university is in their future. It keeps their options open...So far, university has been the case, for the four eldest sons...

Meanwhile, on the homeschooling front, a search has lead me to some links on classical unschooling. Interested? Read the following. :-)

Willa on Classical Unschooling
Ask the Experts - Classical Unschooling
A 7 part series on classical unschooling


Cindy said...

HI Leonie-

I had the same thoughts about John Taylor Gatto... his book Dumbing Us Down was a turning point in my life in that it helped me let go of the public school (I was still attached at that point). I have a chance to see him speak this fall, but when reading the title of his talk decided it was not worth the out of town trip.. as it seemed as you say to focus on the negative. I know he is on a crusade to change the public schools, but it is a fine line and that is not where I am right now in my life.

I love to think about the goals of education, too. I don't know if you read a recent post I made about St. Augustine, but it was so enlightening to me to hear his experience and his thoughts on his education. He had a throuroughly classical education and enjoyed studying Plato, Socretes, etc. But he said his educators (and parents) did fail him by pushing worldly success and not helping him see the goal was to connect with higher things.

He defined education as he read Plato words.. Education allows one to connect with higher things...

For Plato that was man and nature, for St. Augustine it was that and then.. God.

Good ideas.. love reading your thoughts!

jugglingpaynes said...

I looked at the second link and it took the words right out of my mouth! I've used Well Trained Mind as more of a guide map on our homeschooling journey. I know the route but if I don't hit all the sights along the way, that's OK. ;o)
The way you talk with your family about education and the Laura Berquist quote are similar to my own ideas on teaching and learning. The teaching method of many a great philosopher was simply to sit and talk with pupils and get them thinking on a higher level. Instilling a lifelong love of learning is our ultimate goal.

Leonie said...

Hi Cindy,

Yes, I read your post on Augustine - very good. Sad that his parents and/or teachers failed to help him connect - but then, knowing a bit about Augustine and his self will at the time, perhaps they tried but he didn't listen! lol!

I like the ideal of education with the mind towards higher things - think that is why some of the classical CM appeals.I just know, practically speaking, that I need to marry this with jobs and uni and our family and its lifestyle..

To me, this individualization is the beauty of homeschooling.

Leonie said...

Thanks for the comment, Cristina!

I like your idea ( and the idea mentioned in the second classical unschooling link) - of using something like TWTM as a road map but not as force feeding education.