Children are Born Persons

A Philosophy of Education ~ Chapter 2

Children are Born Persons

“His mind is the instrument of his education and his education does not produce his mind.”  Pg 36

From birth and through the ages counted in months, a child devotes himself to learning by touching, pulling, tearing, throwing, and tasting. He will explore until he knows and then he will go on to something new. He reasons with his unending questions of “Why?”  He has imagination and the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong.

At school-age, “A child comes into their hands with a mind of amazing potentialities.”  Play, environment and motion are all good in education, but ideas are what connect the minds.

“Education, like faith, is the evidence of things not seen.” Pg 39

An idea is born of the spirit and desires to be explored and confirmed. The mind, like the body, begins with the business to grow. The body grows on food and the mind grows on ideas, appearing in stages of life. An idea is presented; we take it in, accept it, and for days after the idea will present itself in various ways, through what we read, people we talk to, and things we will see. This is how adults process ideas and children are no less. Therefore, as educators, it is our business to present the great ideas of life, clothed with facts but released to the child to do with as he chooses, for he knows what to do.

“History must afford it’s pageants, science it’s wonders, literature it’s intimacies, philosophy it’s speculations, religion it’s assurances to every man, and his education must have prepared him for wanderings in these realms of gold.” Pg 43

Every one of these subjects has a purpose, a value to the student.  A good education is broad to touch on many subjects and also equips a child for their exploration of them.

But what of motivation? Can we trust children to seek knowledge on their own accord?  Children hunger for knowledge, not information. The constant barrage of questioning only interrupts a child’s train of thought as they process ideas. It is not the requirement of a teacher to manipulate and control stimulation and attention from the student. If we understand the capacity and requirements of a child’s mind, these things come quite naturally.  They are due the dignity we give ourselves and those around us; children are born persons.

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A New Method~ Mastery Based Learning

“Mastery based learning changes the mindset of the student.  An 85% on a test doesn’t brand a child as a B student in their DNA, but impresses them to keep trying, to persevere, to take ownership of their learning.”                                    Sal Kahn, TED Talk, November 2015

 

Because most of us, as educators, have only our experience in traditional academic models to rely on, we often use that understanding to model our home educating experiences.  There is often little reason to challenge these ideas, they are so deeply ingrained in us.  Then a wrench falls into the gears of our finely tuned system of education:  a slow reader, a math struggler or just a squirrely 6 year old, and suddenly there are waves of discontent.  Maybe we recognize that for all we are pouring into the system in the form of money, time and energy, very little progress seems to be happening in the area of learning.  Instead of a growing level of curiosity, we are faced with strong resistance and that leaves us with a great big question mark.  I am so thankful for these points in time!  These are the moments of revelation that require me to throw out the old expectations and open my eyes to new possibilities.  I am forced to truly see my students for who they are and consider their needs as individuals.  I must challenge my expectations, motives and techniques to birth new methods fine-tuned to the child before me, instead of enslaved to tradition, the unrelateable systems of the past.

This is what excites me about this TED Talk by Sal Kahn, of Kahn Academy as he speaks on Mastery based learning.  His presentation makes the point that classroom teaching is not conducive to this approach, but I think it’s a beautiful approach for home schoolers.  Let’s throw out the August to May schedules that come with the curriculum!  Let’s not panic when we come to a lesson that needs a week of investigation and practice, instead of its allotted day!  Let’s break the shackles of a system that doesn’t apply to us by ceasing the practice of dragging students through their journey of learning!  Instead, let’s practice some respect and embrace the amazing little individuals before us.  Let’s run alongside them as their coach as they set the pace for their learning adventure and develop character of fortitude and responsibility.

[Video Link- “Sal Speaks at TED About Mastery-based Learning” November 2015]

It’s worth a watch and I hope you will let me know your thoughts.