Monday, February 2, 2009

Confronting the Educational Dilemma

As we negotiate our way through the process of teaching the kids about government and history, it becomes clearer to me what a farce education can seem at times. I remember hating history and how it had no meaning or value to me. For the record, now that I'm older (much older), I love the subject, but when I was younger you couldn't have paid me to show any interest, and I see a bit of that in not only our kids, but in all kids. It just becomes a case of memorizing facts and regurgitating them for the benefit of the us adults. What does it really mean to a seven-year-old?

At the very least, we're finding our way, but only because as homeschoolers we have some flexibility in molding the lessons and optimizing our approach, though optimizing it is a stretch. I guess in the end, history is best learned with some context, and without that context, it just becomes a process of learning a bunch of facts... you guessed it, out of context. I don't have an answer, and I realize this is just the way it's done and the way it's gotta be, but it's a shame, in a way, that the subject has to be such a chore to learn. I struggle with this and am still searching for the holy grail of the interesting and fun approach to learning history. Something interactive that will grab their imagination would be best, so if you're reading this and have any thoughts, I'd welcome your advice. Until then, we're taking the public school approach and memorizing and regurgitating.

It works as far as placating the state, but we'd like to find something that bestow the kids with more meaning and maybe even, if I may be so bold, inspire them. Maybe a trip, or something interactive. I'm scouring the web for something fun and interesting, and from what little research I've done, feel optimistic that there is something out there.

In meantime, we'll continue to have fun with math and reading. Learning can be fun, as we all know, you just have to have the right attitude, and I'm not here to knock conventional schooling, but it's difficult to argue with the fact that it doesn't instill us with the best of attitudes about learning.

Thanks for reading.

2 comments:

The Book Chook said...

I will keep your request in mind while I'm surfing, Fred. I don't know of interactive off the top of my head but what about books to spark further interest?

My son loved Larry Gonick's Cartoon History books. He developed a huge interest in ancient history after reading them. And there are so many other great books. One series I just can't think of, but will keep trying. Sites I like are Mr Don's, A book in time.com. Check out the BBC sites, museums in USA, UK all have fantastic sites with lots of interactive stuff for kids. These can be a great start to get kids motivated, but unfortunately, with all education that has formal outcomes required, I believe there will also be "boring" bits kids just have to do.

Actually, you've inspired me to make a post for my blog about this subject!

phredude said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for thinking of us. Learning is natural for kids, but when you can make it more fun and interesting, all the better. Our big problem on this side of the pond is that we're trying to focus on American History. The BBC has some great sites, and we love the Cartoon History Books, but they tend to focus on world/Universe history, which I find much more interesting, but not inline with state requirements for US History. This is not an insurmountable problem, but all advice and feedback is helpful. Thanks again.