Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moon and Sun

Taliesin and Nathanael both love astronomy. Last night, after gazing at the night sky, Nathanael asked me, "Mom, the moon is nocturnal? He sleeps during the day and is awake at night?" I told him that is a nice way to think about it. He then added, "And the sun is diurnal. He's awake during the day and sleeps at night." I love a child's mind and imagination. Children really have a lot of poetic wisdom if we will just listen to them. No wonder Jesus taught that we have to become as a child if we want to see heaven.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Christianity and Public Schools

This Week's College Discussion Board (they really should not get me started on this subject):

Has Christianity had any enduring impact on public school education in North America? What does this mean in a country as diverse as America?

The unfortunate fact is Christianity is almost a hidden religion in America's public today. Yes, students can still say the flag salute and there are moments of silence and even student-led prayer at events; but how many of these issues have been questioned or even taken court? What the public school system seems to ignore is the fact that education began because people needed to be able to read the Bible. However, today it is as though it is perfectly acceptable for schools to teach evolution, Greek mythology, and secular humanism; but it should never be able to teach creationism (or even intelligent design), the Bible as history (which I have heard debates over), or anything else even remotely Christian. There is no dress code in most schools unless, of course, it means wearing something with a Christian saying. So it is perfectly fine for students to wear little of nothing, just so long as the shirt does not bear a Christian symbol. I live in Kansas, where the battle over what is taught in public school's science curriculum has been hotly debated for several years. Right now, evolution is winning. The standards that deemphasized evolution (simply by including a disclaimer that there are other theories about the origin of the earth) have been removed and evolution is taught as fact again in Kansas public schools. So, as sad as it might be, this educator cannot see evidence that Christianity has had a very enduring impact on public schools. This is certainly a sad state, especially in a country that proclaims diversity. Diversity of what? Culture and beliefs unless that culture and/or belief includes religious values?

Is there any place for the Scholastic method in today's schools? Defend your response.

I do believe scholasticism does have a place in schools today. As pointed out above, several non-Christian ideas and philosophies are allowed in public schools today. This educator believes that it is just important that philosophical and theological concepts be introduced to students that cause them to think for themselves. This does not necessarily mean that schools need to include every academic area that educators during the Middle Ages incorporated. This simply means that students should be given every opportunity to learn critical thinking about all subjects. For instance, if evolution or Darwinian evolution is taught in public schools, allow intelligent design to be taught as well. Allow various creation stories to be taught. This will allow students to think for themselves. Teachers should allow students to have mock debates on important issues such as as the beginnings of the universe. Greek mythology is taught. Allow Biblical theology to be taught. Include both in a philosophy class. Students can decide for themselves which they find more informative. The concept of critical thinking included in scholasticism is just as important in schools today as it was in the education of the Middle Ages. Students need to be able to think for themselves instead of being taught that everything the teacher says is Gospel (Dunn, 2005, pg. 92).
This is more of an aside, but I have been researching Waldorf education this evening. I found some of the websites very interesting and informative. Perhaps what I found most interesting is the fact that the goal of Waldorf education is to teach the whole child - mind, body, and spirit. They use traditions from various major religions to do this (Mays and Nordwall, 2006, para. 17). This educator could not help but think while doing this research that this is exactly how public schools should be today. Should they not, as a system for the very diverse general public, be inclusive rather than secular? Schools often attempt to teach values education when they cannot fully do so without showing respect to the nation's religious heritage.


Dunn, S. (2005). Philosophical Foundations of Education. Columbus, Ohio: Pearson, Merrill Prentice Hall.
Mays, R. and Nordwall, S. (2006). Waldorf Answers on the Philosophy and Practice of Waldorf Education. Retrieved May 28, 2009, from

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Natural Beauty

This Memorial Day evening, we headed up to Indian Rock Park for a picnic and hiking. During the fall, Indian Rock is alive with beautiful colors. But, as much as I love fall, I have to admit Indian Rock in the spring is just as beautiful - as these pictures prove.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Critical Thinking...

This morning, Taliesin and Nathanael woke up in the mood to play with toy cars and their toy car transporters. They each got a car transporter from Easter Bunny a couple of Easters ago. Taliesin's is Superman and Nathanael's is Batman. We've had lots of fun with them over the past couple of years - playing cars, adding cars, subtracting cars. Sometimes these car transporters do get a little bit frustrating. Their hard plastic make-up makes them difficult to maneuver sometimes. But, all in all, Taliesin and Nathanael enjoy playing with them. Today, Nathanael discovered that one of the tires was missing from one of the wheels. After a vain attempt to find the missing tire, he discovered a solution - just remove the rest of the tires from the rest of the wheels. Not bad critical thinking. :^) I love unschooling!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Oh, Rats

This is one of Nathanael's favorite things to do - let the handpets out of their cages to scamper around and play. This is Nathanael's rat, Sally Dorothy. Yes, he's a male rat; but Nathanael likes the names Sally and Dorothy. LOL. Taliesin's rat is Toto. He was a little too active to let down yesterday. He would have slipped under something and been almost impossible to catch.


Project Fair

Last week, Taliesin and Nathanael took part in the annual project fair for the local homeschooling group. This year, Taliesin did a collage of his interests - a project entitled "About Me." It featured things such as his artwork, his karate medals, some homemade fairy bread, a bowl of oobleck, the pet rats, some favorite books, and some of his sketches. Nathanael chose to do his on volcanos (one of his favorite things along with tornados). Taliesin, especially, enjoyed himself. He loved explaining to people what he was displaying.

I, personally, was a little disappointed this year. The kids that took part went to a lot of hard work. And for some strange reason, this year the project fair and a regular business meeting were combined into one event. The kids got restless waiting for their turn, which was sandwiched in between the regular meeting and election of officers. I just wish it would have been a night for only the kids to display all of their hard work.


Mortimer Adler and Socratic Dialogue

What is Socratic dialogue, and how can it effectively be used in an educational environment? Who was Mortimer Adler and what were his views? How does this author feel about Adler’s philosophy and about the use of Socratic dialogue? The following paper will answer these questions.

The quote regarding Socratic dialogue from this assignment reads, “The audience is blind but must never feel that way. The farther we go from the reality we know, the harder it is to create a mental picture. Never tell what should be shown nor try to show what needs to be told. And, last, the words on the page are only the beginning.”

The definition listed above is a good beginning when discussing the application of the Soctratic dialogue method into the classroom. However, this definition does omit one other important concept – the concept that not only must the audience (the students) be blind to the teaching; but they should also be lead into a discussion that will cause them to want to learn more. In other words, the facilitator of the discussion must ask questions that will cause the students to be interested in the topic. The website gives an excellent example of a teacher who used Socratic dialogue to teach his third grade class the concept of binary numbers.

The Socratic method can be successful when used in the classroom. Methods that encourage students’ critical thinking and analysis are much more important than directive teaching. Directive teaching reinforces the concept that teachers should be the ones with all the ideas. In this author’s opinion, Socratic dialogue and other methods of incorporating critical thinking is more student- centered in that they allow the students to learn and think on their own.

Because Socratic dialogue is more student-centered, it is ironic that educational philosopher Mortimer Adler encouraged its use in classrooms. Adler was one of the premier advocates of classical education – education based upon what students “need to know,” that stresses academics rather than vocation or interest (Dunn, 2005, pg. 44).

According to Classical Homeschooling’s website, Adler embraced a multi-disciplinary approach to education and encouraged students, through Socratic dialogue, to think for themselves. He insisted that thinking a concept out was of much more use to the learner than memorization (P.S.J.C., 2006, par. 8).

However, Adler also held to the idea that children should have no choices in how or what they learn. He advocated a teacher-centered, structured approach and completely rejected the ideas of progressive education founder John Dewey, who Adler met at Columbia University (P.S.J.C., 2006, par. 4). Adler believed that children should learn using “three modes of learning and three modes of teaching” (Dunn, 2005, pg. 44). Those three modes were: (1) “the acquisition of organized knowledge” (italics mine), (2) “the development of intellectual skills,” and (3) “the enlarged understanding of ideas and values” (Dunn, 2005, pg. 44). Aside from Socratic dialogue, Adler advocated the use of lectures and traditional textbooks. He also believed that students should be disciplined into learning in the way that he felt was appropriate for them to learn (Dunn, 2005, pgs. 44-45).

This author finds Mortimer Adler’s ideas a bit confusing. First, he advocates the use of Socratic dialogue to encourage critical thinking. That is understandable. He also encourages the use of multi-disciplinary studies over memorization, rightfully pointing out that children will remember what they have thought out more than what they have memorized. Then Adler’s thinking tends to shift from child-friendly to dictatorial. Students have no choice in what they learn (except to choose which second language they will study). He advocates the use of traditional means of teaching - lecturing and the usage of textbooks to ensure students are “where they should be” – to quote a popular idea from the back-to-basics education of today. And he even advocates disciplining students into paying attention to what they may not be interested in at all. Perhaps John Dewey had more of an influence in Adler than he cares to admit. Perhaps this is why he does advocate the use of some student-centered techniques, which
clearly would make learning more enjoyable. He, however, still is unable to leave behind many preconceived notions of what students need to learn by certain grade levels.

This being said, this author agrees with Mortimer Adler upon his ideas of the usage of multi-disciplinary classrooms and Socratic dialogue. However, these ideas are the exception. There are several reasons that this author disagrees with Adler. First of all, as a pastor pointed out in church this morning, God has a plan for every man, woman, and child. Not only this, but God gives every man, woman, and child a talent and a desire – a calling. The Bible is very specific about individual talents. Jesus taught in Matthew 25:14-30 that those who do not invest their tlaents in the work and calling of the Lord will lose those God-given talents. Where does this fit in with Adler’s philosophy?

Secondly, Adler’s philosophy that everyone should stand on equal academic
footing actually contradicts the methods that Christ used in His teaching. Jesus met people where they were. He did not value the educated over the uneducated. Actually, Jesus’ methods were quite the opposite. According to Matthew 11:12, God has revealed the wise things (spiritual matters, salvation) to babies. And I Corinthians 3:18 reminds, “Let no person deceive himself. If anyone among you supposes that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [let him discard his worldly discernment and recognize himself as dull, stupid, and foolish, without true learning and scholarship], that he may become [really] wise” (Amplified Bible). Thus, God has chosen what is foolish in the eyes of the world to bring salvation and has made the wise foolish and the foolish wise. Who is Mortimer Adler (or anyone else, for that matter), to choose what “should be” taught when perhaps God has given the students a different calling? Again, where does the Bible fit in with Adler’s philosophy?

Lastly, and tied in with the first two, how does Adler’s philosophy of not allowing choices coincide with God’s creation of free will? God does not force His will and purpose on anyone. God created every human being with the free will to choose what (s)he will be and do. Is it right, then, for parents and educators to force their own will upon children and not allow them the God-given gift of free will to decide some things on their own? This author has worked with children in various settings. Each child has his/her unique learning style. There are children who love learning in a traditional way. In fact, this is exactly the author’s learning preference. But, then, there are other children who are hands-on learners – those children who cannot sit still at a table or desk to listen to a lecture or read a textbook. Is Adler stating that either of these is wrong? As
mentioned in the first objection to Adler’s philosophy, God created everyone with
distinct interests and talents. Is the child who would prefer to dig up worms and walk in the woods and hike in the mountains less worthy of following his/her God-given interests than the child who prefers to read and study academically? According to Adler and those who follow his methods, this child is. All children should learn in the same way. All children should sit like little soldiers, hanging on every word a teacher says. All children should conduct themselves in a way that shows their gratitude for such an education. This author asks is this truly the way Jesus would have handled education today?

Perhaps the saddest aspect of all is many Christian educators will follow in the footsteps of Mortimer Adler in the name of Christianity. After all, does the Bible not tell us to train and discipline our children? What is perhaps most tragically ironic is that the few Verses in Proverbs that are used by traditional educators, parents, and disciplinarians to advocate the use of strictness with children are so often misinterpreted. For instance, the word “rod” found in many Passages in Proverbs actually refers to a shepherd’s rod – a rod of guidance, not a rod of beating. Apply this interpretation of education. Educators can beat the children using formulas and philosophies that ensure children learn “what
they need to know” or they can guide the children into the discovery of God’s calling upon their lives.

Christians educators often proclaim, along with Mortimer Adler, that more
progressive methods lead to “moral and intellectual chaos” (P.S. J.C., 2006, par. 5). Perhaps, just perhaps, however, Dewey and other pragmatists and humanists show more Christ-like caring for children than their Christian counterparts. This author finds it horrifying that it is all too often non-Christians that display Christ-like tendencies. All too often, Christians are too busy promoting “what needs to be taught” instead of “what should be done when representing the name of Christ.” Perhaps it could be said that humanists often do the right things for all the wrong reasons and Christians do all the wrong things for the right reasons.

In conclusion, Mortimer Adler and his use of Socratic dialogue in the classroom is certainly a topic that requires much thought – one that brings out an educator’s passion for the passing on of knowledge from one generation to the next.


Classical Homeschooling Magazine. (2006). Mortimer J. Adler: Reforming Education.
Retrieved May 20, 2009, from

Dunn, S. (2005). Philosophical Foundations of Education. Columbus, Ohio: Pearson,
Merrill Prentice Hall.

Garlikov, R. (no date given). The Socratic Method: Teaching by Asking Instead of
Telling. Retrieved May 20, 2009, from

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lots to Post About!

I have a lot of stuff to post about very soon! I know it's been too long since I've posted anything. In that time, I've started my daycare (have the new little ones starting within the next few days), Taliesin and Nathanael have enjoyed lots of outside time in our gorgeous spring weather, they have had a project fair, played with pets, had the baby bunnies leave the yard, I have finished some interesting college assignments, and much more! I will be posting with much more detail within the next few days. Thank you for being patient with me!

God bless.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

My New College Class

This summer, I am taking two college classes. They will overlap for a couple of weeks; but, other than that, I will be taking them individually. I am currently taking an educational philosophy class. It is very interesting. I recently posted my first assignment from the class. Today I've been reading about Plato's and Aristotle's view of education and about the essentialist view of education. Needless to say, I totally disagree with the latter. I can glean some truth from Plato and Aristotle, even though I disagree with them on quite a bit. For instance, Aristotle believed that all education should be public, not private. During Aristotle's time, all education was conducted in the home. Each individual family decided what their children should learn and how. Aristotle did not agree with this, but felt that in order for children to be good citizens in a good democracy; they should be educated publically by those qualified to educate. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Good thing I do not have to respond to this part of Aristotle's philosophy, or my professor would probably think I have lost my mind. :^) Well, back to my assignment on the difference between prominent philosophies of reality.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Nature at Its Sweetest

We have had a nest of five baby bunnies in our backyard for the past few weeks. Today, when we went outside to observe; the baby bunnies were not in the nest.

We found them a few inches away, cuddled in the grass. They are very difficult to see here, since they are still hidning; but you may be able to see their little ears here. They are adorable! Taliesin and Nathanael are really
enjoying watching them!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

They're Gonna Put Me in the Movies

Taliesin has really been showing an interest in how movies are made. So this week (0r maybe even longer), we have decided to learn about movie-making. Today, he enjoyed making movie props from Legos (the alien space ship was a lot of fun) and decided to see how he would look as different movie characters. Here are some of his favorites:

Batman, the Dark Knight

The Clone Trooper

A New Breed of Superhero - half Batman, half Superman

A Scary Skelton

A Loving Daddy

Just wait until we get the make-up out tomorrow! Tune in tomorrow for more Adventures in Movie Making.....

Personal Respons Paper - Educational Philosophy

Just finished this college paper as an introductory to my philosophy of education class. I was required to write about what I believe truth is; if I believe we can discover truth; and how I view education, the role of the student, and the role of the teacher. This is what I came up with. (If the spacing on this is wrong, I apologize. Just copied and posted it from my Word document). :^)


Personal Response: Educational Philosophy

Kandy Crosby-Hastings

The Bible teaches that there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong – an

absolute truth and an absolute falsity. There is no such thing as a “little white lie.” I

left a “good job” just a couple of years ago because this employer encouraged the telling

of “little white lies” for the good of the company. To me, this was not ethical at all.

Satan is the father of lies. As children of God, we should strive for absolute truth.

I definitely believe we can know the truth. When we search the Scriptures, we

will find the truth. This truth is found in God’s Word alone. The world today, society at

large, tries to tell us truth is relative to each individual circumstance. This relativism,

however, is not found in the Bible, the source of all truth. The only instances that I can

find in the Bible that would hint at a relativistic worldview is (1) David eating the

showbread reserved for priests and (2) Jesus healing on the Sabbath. However, these

instances are directed at legalism, not as a question about absolute truth. These

examples, however, should reveal to us, as Christians, how careful we must be in

examining truth and falsehood. There is a fine line between legalism and truth, between

relativism and falsity.

I believe the best way to present the truth is by example. Many others believe

the best way to present the truth is by teaching and preaching. In actuality, in today’s

society, preaching achieves the opposite effect of the result we desire. When we demand

that others accept what they deem as “our way,” they will simply tune out our message,

regardless of its validity. When I think of presenting truth, I think of Jesus’ example.

Jesus did not stand on the street corner and condemn passersby. He called people to

Himself, reminding the legalistic religious leaders that none of them were sin-free

therefore they should not judge others.

Leading by example is especially important when teaching the truth to children.

All too often, Christian educators take the position that they have to drill truth into young

children in order to drive foolishness away. What educators do not realize is that

sometimes strict methods turn children away from the truth. I remember one of my

friends telling me, when she enrolled her son in a Christian preschool, that she hoped

nothing would happen at the school that would eventually turn him away from Christ.

The bad thing is that with many Christian schools who practice strictness and traditional

education (even to the point of corporal punishment in some schools), this is actually a

valid concern. Is this truly the attitude Christ would have us, as Christian educators, to

maintain? A much more effective method of presentation of the truth is to lead the

children gently into the truth by modelling and being willing to answer even the most

insignificant questions that children may have.

I believe the best educational process, if the reader has not guessed by now,

should focus on how the individual students learn best. Education is not all about what

the teacher feels the student should learn by a certain point in time or “grade level.”

Education is about teaching students to learn by following their own interests and God-

given talents. Each individual student’s learning style should be taken into account. Not

every student learns best in a traditional school setting. Some students learn better in a

less structured, more natural setting. The goal of education should not be to make all

students into traditional learners. The goal of education should be to nurture each

student’s abilities and interests. God created our creativity. Should this creativity be

sacrificed on the altar of man-made conformity? I would dare say it should not. I believe

the educational process in place in most public schools (and most Christian schools),

unfortunately, honors conformity over creativity.

I believe the role of the school needs to change. Due to No Child Left Behind,

schools are serving the role of force-feeders of so-called important knowledge. Schools

force-feed students information in hope that these children will be able to regurgitate

the information well enough to receive above-average scores on standardized tests. The

result of this system is schools full of children who are not only stressed but who

memorize “facts” simply long enough to pass a test. Instead of this testing focus, schools

should be allowed to nurture children’s God-given interests and curiosity in ways that are

most condusive to true learning.

I believe people should learn what they are interested in. As crazy as it sounds,

everything will eventually fall into place. I can say this from experience. When we first

began homeschooling, our now six-year old son, Taliesin, was three years old. I began

teaching him using traditional, teacher-directed methods. These methods only caused

frustration for my son. It was then that I discovered Home Education Magazine and

child-directed learning. Many have questioned my methods. What will children

learn if they only learn what they are interested in? What many do not realize is

children are natural learners if we allow them to be. Allowing children to explore

will naturally lead to one learning opportunity after another. And, yes, children do have a

natural curiosity about spiritual matters as well. Jesus instructed His disciples to stop

forbidding the children and to allow them to come to Him. The children had an inner

desire for spiritual things – a part of being created in the image of God, who is Spirit.

I have found this is true of both of my sons. They both yearn to learn more and more

about God if I give them opportunities to ask questions. A good example is, again,

with Taliesin. A few months ago, he had questions about why people take communion.

We had just studied the story of Jesus’ last supper, crucifixion, and resurrection using

Resurrection Eggs (one of both of my sons’ favorite manipulatives). We discussed why

the importance of communion; and he also wanted to take part. I asked him if he believes

that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. He said he did. I explained to him

that only people who have Jesus come into their hearts are allowed to take communion,

because it reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. He understood. Now each

week before church, I ask Taliesin if he wants to take communion with the church or not.

If he answers yes, I always ask him why we take communion; and he answers. Likewise,

my four-year old son, Nathanael, loves reading about the creation story and has many

questions about sin. I always am willing to answer any questions he has, no matter how

many times he has asked them and had them answered before.

My conclusion, therefore, is that students should learn what they are interested in

in ways that are natural for them to learn by. All else will fall into place naturally. To

prove this point, for a college class last year, I was required to write about the curriculum

standards for the state of Kansas. If Taliesin were in the public school system, this year

he would have started kindergarten; therefore I chose to conduct my research over

curriculum standards for kindergarten. I found that with Taliesin, we had already

covered every concept public schools teach in kindergarten except for graphs. Of course,

when I inquired of Taliesin and Nathanael (my younger son) if they wanted to study

graphs, they overwhelmingly decided to. So we made a homemade volcano and a

homemade geyser and graphed with stickers on a large piece of brown paper sack paper

which one shot higher. Plus, we had covered a lot more that public schools,

unfortunately, deem unnecessary – concepts of art and music, which are usually a part of

our daily activities.

I believe the role of a teacher should be that of a facilitator. I believe a teacher

should provide guidance, should answer any questions the students may have, and should

be there to provide ideas and to introduce concepts. A teacher should not try to force or

coerce a student into being something (s)he is not ready for.

The role of the student should be as that of a natural learner. I am a firm

believer that children are born natural learners. They remain natural learners until they

reach kindergarten when teachers teach them that their creativity does not matter,

that the only thing that does matter is what the teacher thinks and teaches. The following

poem epitomizes what I believe about why the traditional role of teacher and student

leads to students who cannot think for themselves:

( found at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm a Licensed Childcare Provider!

Well, today was an exciting day. I not only had my house inspection for the daycare but also recieved my temporary childcare permit in the mail. Now that I've passed the house inspection, my regular license will come at any time! I'm so excited! Now to start advertising. :^)


Monday, May 11, 2009

What we've been doing

Playing dressup

Computer Art

Fairy Muffins

At the Park

Being Beavers, Making Dams

Babies have to Keep Clean

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Trying to Keep Up

It's been awhile since I've posted. Just trying to keep up with everything. This is my final week of the two college classes I've been working on - this, of course, means two research papers due by Sunday. Tuesday is my house inspection for the daycare. Just finished with the fire inspection this week and have been conducting my twelve and a half hours of daycare observations I need for my license. In between, we've been having fun just learning from all the new opportunities.

But I will be posting more - eventually.... LOL. Naw, it should not be too long from now that I'll be posting more fun activities and pictures.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Education Assignment - Lesson Plans (or lack thereof)

This week, this unschooler was required to write about why I feel lesson plans are necessary for good classroom management. Ha! Ha! Ha! No, I seriously had to write about this. Yes, I know it goes totally against my educational philosophy. So here's what I wrote. :^)

I have read the textbook and can understand why its authors consider lesson plans an important part of the day. Public schools have to focus so much on testing, it is important that both the teacher and the students stay on task. If the students know what is expected of them through organized lesson plans, they will perform and behave much better. Also, if the teacher appears more organized, the students will follow his/her example and be organized also in their learning. The textbook authors feel that even student-directed activities should be organized through lesson plans. (My question about this is, honestly, how is that truly student-directed if the teacher has the assignments planned out? The activities may be hands-on, yes; but student-directed, no). I can understand that if structured schools of any kind - be it teacher-directed or the authors' definition of student-directed - do not focus on the tasks at hand, they will not pass the standardized tests that will be necessary for the school's success. If the teachers have a specific plan, they will be able to accomplish more in the lessons because there will be fewer distractions from the students.
As the textbook also points out, the way the lesson plan is developed should aid in classroom management. For instance, if a lesson captures the students' attention at the beginning of class, the students will be motivated to learn what the teacher is teaching. The teacher must keep that attention throughout the lesson in order to keep the students motivated. The lesson must be paced correctly so that the students do not become bored with the lessons and act out on that bordom. The teacher should not jump randomly from one idea to the next. Such jumping will break the students' concentration, thus also resulting in poor behavior due to not understanding the lesson. At the end of the lesson, the teacher should point out that the lesson is nearing an end. This, in my opinion, allows the students to relax a little and recap in their own minds the information that was taught. The lesson should end in a way that will allow the students to move smoothly to the next class (and possibly the next teacher, depending on the grade) with little or no interruption. This will result in better behavior during the next presentation, because the teacher is better prepared. (I believe, however, that this turns the lesson into a speech rather than a teaching).
Now that all of this is said, I would like to give my opinion. As I stated in the first paragraph, true student-directed learning is not planned out days in advance. It is directed by the students. The teacher can have a basic idea of what (s)he would like to cover; but it is covered by initiation from the students. People say that this cannot be done. Trust me, it can. I do it everyday. I know of several others (even one that worked in a Christian school setting) that follow this exact lead. And any "lesson" can be modified to teach anything. I can give several good examples that only require thinking one step ahead. Just a few days ago, Taliesin (my six-year old) requested that we play musical instruments (something that is all too often put on the back burner in many schools in favor of language arts and math). So we got out the percussion instruments and began playing. This led us to putting music to stories to add excitement to the stories (Taliesin's idea, but incorporating creativity [music] with language arts [stories]). And the story Taliesin chose was perfect for percussion instruments. We read The Lion King. This type of student-directed learning using music and reading would have gone on and on had a neighbor girl not come over to play. But play is also much more important that schools all too often realize. The day after this, we spent most of the day outside, planting a garden, talking about the seeds we were planting and the insects we were findng underground, playing and running. But my sons were learning - without a lesson plan. They were learning by following their own creativity and imagination.
Now most of the comments that I receive when I write something like this is this type of un-structure may work for a homeschool environment, but not for a classroom environment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If a teacher comes to the classroom willing to allow the students to learn rather than intent upon teaching them; amazing things will happen. First of all, students will enjoy learning. They will not need motivation to keep them interested during something they really do not want to learn. This will result in better classroom management. For instance, say the curriculum requires that students learn how to multiply fractions. The teacher could use a suggestion in the textbook and have various stations set up. There could be a visual learning station with traditional workbooks. There could be a hands-on learning station with manipulatives (beans work especially well with fractions). There could be computers with learning games with headsets for auditory learners. There could even be an art station in which the students could draw or paint using measurements that are determined through multiplying fractions (using geometric concepts). The teacher allows the students to go to whichever station they wish to go to. The teacher acts as the facilitator rather than as a lecturer. If the students have any questions, they can ask the teacher (or a peer). Each student is learning in the way that is best for him/her. After the students have tired of whatever tool they have chosen to learn through (this will vary with each students), they can choose some other type of learning activity - be it sustained silent reading, a play-based activity (which, again, I do believe is important for all ages), or some other activity that will engage the interest of the students. If the students are required to do a language arts assignment, art and music can be incorporated very easily - making the assignment much more enjoyable for the students. Again, for those students who are traditional learners (like I, personally, am); traditional methods should be made available. Lessons can be taken outside. There is just something about being in the sunshine that nurtures learning. Going outside should be impromptu. Are the students especially restless on a nice spring or fall day? Take it outside. This requires no lesson plan. Lesson plans can stifle the creativity of the students. Who would not misbehave if what is being taught is boring? I honestly feel that the less the teacher relies on a specific lesson plan and the more (s)he relies on the interests of the students; the better off the teacher and class will be. Children are natural learners. They are just taught all throughout their lives that they have to be taught what the teacher thinks is important. In my opinion, a lack of lesson plans and more reliability on the students themselves will result in much better classroom management (not to mention more learning).

God bless.


Friday, May 1, 2009

My Little Dance Star

Tonight was Taliesin's big night! He danced his little heart out at his first dance recital. It was awesome. One thing I love about Taliesin's and Nathanael's dance studio is when they do a recital, they make it an event, a performance spectacular! And tonight's event was sold out. There were nearly 250 people there this evening watching. Taliesin is so proud of himself - but I am even more proud of him! He remembered his steps and smiled while he did it. He's all ready for next year's recital. He is actually requesting to take both dance classes and a dance camp this summer. And he's wanting to start jazz. This year, he took ballet and tap, which he will continue with as well. The theater does not allow pictures to be taken of the performances, but I do have some fun videos from the dress rehearsal. I will see if I can figure out how to get those posted. :^)


Happy May Day!

The Preparation

The Product

The Delivery