Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Which flavor will it be?

There are many different approaches to learning and each family will have to decide for themselves which approach they want to adopt. The choice will depend on the interests, learning styles, parenting style, time availability and learning needs of a particular family. But here is a standing on one foot guide to some of the options that I think can be adapted to work with Jewish home education and that fit with the Torah ideas about how to educate.

Montessori - based on work of Dr. Maria Montessori where a prepared environment and purposeful and sequential activities are used to allow the children to learn various skills and disciplines. Encourages independent learning and a respectful attitude to peers and environment. The teacher functions more like a facilitator and adviser. There is a lot of individual and interest based work. Dr. Montessori had many interesting and excellent ideas about how children learn and how to teach various subjects. My friend and local montessori expert, Miriam Eri, tells me that Montessori approach is as close as one can come to homeschooling type of a teaching model in a classroom setting.

Classical education- heavily book based, particularly Great Book based, very structured and well rounded approach to education. Relies heavily on the study of language, literature, history and logic. Follows the stages of intellectual development of a child from grammar to logic to rhetoric. It's quite rigorous in nature. The available curriculum for this approach needs to be adapted to jewish needs but the general idea of steady and disciplined learning appropriate to various stages of intellectual development works well with the Torah approach to education.

Charlotte Mason - a sort of toned down and gentler version of classical education, based on teaching good habits, using "living books" to ignite student interest and inspire love of learning, nature study, copywork and dictation, picture study, journaling. This is not too labor intensive in terms of preparation for the parent. It works very well in a family setting with children of various ages, abilities and interests, especially with the younger/ elementary aged children (those are the ones I have right now:) It is easily adaptable for jewish family needs.

Unit Studies - Theme approach to learning a subject or an interdisciplinary way to learn a subject in depth from many different angles. The main idea here is that the more connections one makes in one's mind with a particular subject from various vantage points the better one will know and understand it. This is a very versatile and exciting way to learn especially for people who appreciate a holistic type of thinking. One can also use a subject as a springboard for launching into related studies and ideas across numerous disciplines. The possibilities are really infinite. For example, one can use the weekly Torah portion as the starting point and then include various related math, science, history, music, art and practical projects that are germane to the topics mentioned. One can really do this with any subject.

Unschooling- child led education based on the child's interests. Less formal, using the world as the classroom kind of an approach.

Eclectic- while the purists and the devotees of a particular approach will be scandalized and flabbergasted, for the rest of us mortals using a little bit of everything depending of what works at a particular time and with a particular child is definitely a reasonable way to go
I hope to explore each of these more in depth in the future posts. The beauty of home education is that one can tailor it to individuals' needs. There is so much to learn, explore, teach, discover. One has to relish the process as well as the end results. Bon Voyage!!!


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