Monday, April 18, 2005

What we study so our children have the right to study good things

In 1780 Massachusetts patriot John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, outlining his vision of how American culture might evolve. ''I must study politics and war," he prophesied, so ''that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." They will add to their studies geography, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, he continued, so that their children may enjoy the ''right to study painting, poetry, music . . . "

That is a great quote but, why is it worth sending my child to school if all the teachers quit.

An article in my local paper from the local school administration was encouraging parents and students to create a self-actualized education, "... to be the loudest chick in the nest" to get the best education you can.

If you are going to "self-actualize" your education you might as well homeschool, where you actually can.

Our children can be so much more, it is time to take them back from the schools and get to teaching them.

I am studying education and learning and history so I can teach my children so they can study language, music and art.

What Do You Want Your Children to Know and What Skills Do You Want Them to Have When They are 18-years-old?

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Robert Heinlein

That is the fundamental question you are facing in the education of your children, and it doesn't matter if your child is in public school, private school or home school.
No matter the answers to that question you will have to take action to make sure your children have that knowledge and those skill, because no one loves or cares more about your children then you do.

You have two things to do:
Find and nourish your children's innate talents.
Impart the life skills necessary so your children can life a happy life and support their talents.

Everyone has been gifted with at least one talent that they can use to enrich everyones life with. As a parent your job is to find those talents and help your children develop them to the highest level they can.

What talents do your children have? I have no idea but just be observant, provide a wide range of activities, take note of your children's favorite activities in your learning journal and you will start seeing patterns emerge. The things your children are good at will be related to their talents.

Many talented people become complacent about their talent, since it comes so easy to them they don't work to improve. Help them to strive for perfection.

You May Only Be One Or Two Skills Away From Success.

Having a talent is not enough, they also have to a good balance of life-skills. There are many stories in the news of highly paid professional athletes who have no money management skills and end up in debt because they don't understand that their careers will end sooner rather then later.

I have met many young adults lately that are missing basic life skills, Sure, they can read—slowly, and write—with the help of a spelling and grammar checker. Their cooking skills top out at scrambled eggs and toast, and getting common stains out of clothes is a stumper. But cleaning the bathroom, and changing the oil in the car is something completely new to them. Balancing the checkbook is a process they don't understand at all. Maybe they have all lead sheltered lives, but I want my children to be able to function in day to day life.

Learning most skills is not all that hard: to pick up a new skill and get pretty good at it takes about 100 hours, to become expert in a skill all it takes is practice about 1000 hours of practice. To master a skill takes about 5000 hours.

My short list of skills for my children:
Literate: She should be able to read and write and get her point across.
Numerate: She should be able to balance her checkbook, and see how physics plays a major role in everyday life.
Articulate: She should be able to talk to people: alone or in front of a group and be understood.
Fitness: She should be able to take care of her body.
Homemaking skills: She should be able to take care of her clothes, house, car and cook meals.
Goal-setting skills: She should be able to set and achieve goals.
Time-management skills: She should be able to manage her time and energy effectively.
Memory skills: She should be able to remember names and faces.


David BC Tan said...

Great post. Now isn't that a list to last a lifetime. :-)

Stephan said...

It sure is. That was the point. The sad thing is not that most people don't do it, but that most people do know that they can be done.