Thursday, March 25, 2010

Owning Our Learning

Several years ago, when Cody was in Scouts, he was asked to create a chart of the hierarchy in his school. Once completed he would earn a badge...and at the ripe old age of 9, Cody LOVED badges.

We thought about it for awhile. We had no superintendent, no principal, no school board, etc. In the end, Cody's chart looked something like this.

U.S. Constitution
(allowing freedom of education)
/ \
Me and Family
(working together to discern what I want to learn and how to go about it)
Educational Approaches
(so many to choose from..what will work for me?)
(friends, family, museums, books, tutors, life)

Cody thought this was a ridiculously long list..until he saw the list of his schooled peers.

He was mortified to see that his friends were listed UNDER the resources of their schools. In other words..they were at the bottom of the list.

This list was pivotal for my children to recognize that they had the power in their own learning...and that having that power was a gift..and sometimes that gift is a little scary.

For instance, there is always my own yearly panic. Because I grew up with more traditional learning..and it is so much easier to have a checklist of things learned or "needed to learn". And, while Cody and Brian embraced this newly discovered power, Austen was terrified. For years, he just said. I don't want to decide..anything. YOU decide!!!

And so we would. Whatever his brothers were doing..we'd plug him in.

We ask him to do yoga, nature walks and nature journals. He would say Aww (with a grin) and comply.
We ask him to draw pictures of stories from Greek Myths. He would say Aww (with a grin) and comply.
Finally, he asked for more structure..but could we please tell him what to do. So for 1 1/2 years we said. Read for two hours, write (or copy) an essay and do something mathematical. He said Aww (with a grin) know the story.

Somewhere along the way, Austen began coming into his own.

Now? This young man is creating his own path in territory his brothers wouldn't have dared. Because..truth be told..once they got to high school? Cody and Brian wanted (needed?) the security of a more structured co-operative or tutors outside our home for the higher maths and sciences. Austen? Trusts us to meet all his needs here. Yikes!

So now we enter the second year of our small little high-school co-op.

This past month, our teens realized that the year was starting to wrap up. It was time to think about what they wanted to do during co-op next year.

I would like to introduce you to our "Board of Directors". (Okay..we're missing Angela)

Pictured are Devin, Austen and Amanda..(and myself..but I'm not on the Board)

It has been fascinating to watch these guys in action! For 2-3 weeks..they throw out possibilities. Great Books? Math? Junior Achievement?

Language..what language? Devin wants German. Austen wants French. Angela thinks in Texas they should learn Spanish..Mandy about sign language? Does that work?

hey all agree that sign language is the way to go for co-op. They can learn Spanish in life..and order Rosetta Stone for anything else and study on their own.

hey make a conscious choice to put off studying lit and comp during co-op for another they can hold eachother accountable in Algebra and Geometry.

The debates continue week after week..and in the meantime, they continue playing with hydraulic systems, helping eachother work through algebra books and playing Apples to Apples.

Finally? They tell the parents. This is what we want.

So here is the list:

Quelf..because it's an awesome game and we want some new games..we'll give you a list of more games later.

Gyrocopter parts (kit?) and to finish the Milestones in Science time-line and experiment kit on rainy days or when we are waiting for miscellaneous parts to come in. We'll call it physics.

Someone to teach us: art
(want to learn a different style..but the boys may still continue with Veronica as well, while the girls return to music lessons (piano), fashion design and sign language.

More Saxon Math Books..preferably enough for each of us so we don't have to keep sharing. We'll call it Algebra and Geometry. We just mainly want to hold each-other accountable..because none of us like to do it...well..we sort-of like it, actually.

So there we have it. We take the list, and tell them we think this is reasonable. They are all working summer jobs. They may have to help us with the purchase of the gyrocopter parts. We will start the search for someone to teach them fashion design and sign language. But otherwise
we will continue co-op next year.

And Austen? He says Aww.(with a big grin)..and puts the list on my desk.


Sardine Mama said...

Nicole - I was going to talk to UIW about fashion design....wonder if they would do a homeschool course?

If not - there are books, of course, Sewing lessons the first step?? I started out with that as my major in college.

grillledcheesechic said...

Did you really? One of the girls has a book..and the woman who teaches them pottery does all the costuming for our local community theater. (The kids move sets, exchange for pottery lessons). But they have something more structured on their "wish list". Let me know if anything develops with UIW. Thanks

evision said...