Monday, January 26, 2009

Working all the muscles...together.

Continuing on from yesterday; one has to consider WHY children learn before you outline WHAT you will teach. As outlined here, reason number one is that children learn so that they can grow. The mind needs to be exercised. Each activity, history, math, writing do not exist on their own. The brain, although it has various parts, we now know must work together to work most efficiently. Brain Gym is all the rage even within schools and while this cross brain training is good, we must look at how various SUBJECTS can tie in together.

On the other hand, specialists are apt to attach too much importance on separate mental 'faculties.' We see books about education that include elaborately planned programs where individual lessons are supposed to develop perspective, or imagination, or judgment. This idea of 'faculties' comes from a false analogy that likens the mind to the body. This concept of the mind as a collection of separate entities is about to become as obsolete as the idea of phrenology, where reading bumps on the head is supposed to provide information about the person. It appears now that the mind is one unified entity that can't be divided, although it can do different things. This kind of contriving to artificially sort and separate knowledge so the child can digest it is unnecessary. A healthy child's mind can direct itself and apply itself to do whatever it needs to in order to assimilate whatever knowledge is presented. Almost any subject that our common sense tells us is good for children will exercise various powers of the mind at the same time, if it's presented the right way.

The above quote is from the CM summary and says exactly that, but I wonder why we drill and (s)kill when providing a more 'natural' learning environment might be a better answer. It is 'interesting' that Andrew has trouble with 34+93; however, if it is presented as "Billy received 34 candies and Brigitte received 93. How many did they get all together?" he can get the answer right away. Most kids cringe at story problems but Andrew loves them- it makes math real! I loved reading online today how a friend is decorating for the Chinese New Year. I just betcha she's working in some learning there! I myself am considering the "Alton Brown" curriculum using his various FoodTV programs!

And just to get back to Biblical roots, this falls nicely in line with 1 Corinthians 12. You can read it in it's entirety here but one excerpt follows:

14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

We all help each other out. The same goes with the various subjects. You read when you do math. You may learn a foreign language but unless you use is useless and becomes dead. Science almost always uses math. And I haven't even discussed the arts which can help strengthen every other area. Geometry and art are intertwined. etc.. etc.. Now that I've said all this, I so want to just sit down with Andrew, do our math worksheet, read Ponce DeLeon, have him copy a row of "a's" and be done. I still gravitate to this methodology. But when I venture out of my comfort zone, we are all blessed. Our school is a work in progress

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