Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Week in the Life of us- Week 5

We went camping last weekend, so our week got started a little oddly. We got tons of nature study in, though! This was the first week to try our complete schedule for this summer. Because our co-op starts in September, things will get changed up a bit then. For now, we are enjoying this new plan and the freedom it gives us, at the same time getting lots more done each day!

Touch the fish, Colby! 

Tuesday: We were still camping Tuesday. We read some school books and did lots of nature study. The kids played and played in the woods. We worked on some navigation, finding our way around in the trees, and did a lot of plant identification. They were happy to find some gooseberries to munch- very sour, green gooseberries, but still yummy!

Wednesday: We headed home from the mountains, and on the way we stopped by a river so Jeff could teach the kids how to pan for gold. After we got home the kiddos did school all afternoon while I put away camping gear and washed laundry. We did about a half day, getting in all the core subjects but skipping things like Spanish, music, and poetry.

Part of Caiden's rock collection, just because
I didn't have a picture for Thursday. 
Thursday: We got everything done really quickly today. The new schedule was amazing, and the emphasis on time instead of amount of work done really freed everyone up to do their best. They don't know it, but they are actually getting more done then they were when I required a certain amount of work! We got to do some drawing and handicrafts along with all our regular things. Math was a breeze, reading lessons went without a hitch, and everything was just really nice and peaceful.

Learning place value. 
Look at those eyelashes! 
Friday: We didn't get our nature walk in today, because the baby slept in for a couple of hours. ( I really should stop calling him the baby!) Abby had a little trouble with math and phonics today, but later she said she was just having trouble with her brain. Silly girl. We worked on our timeline pages and listened to our composer. We also studied our artist's picture for the week.

Saturday: Things went really good today. We went on a nature walk early, and noticed how quickly the corn has grown. We talked about wind pollination and many other things. We got started with school at a good time and sped right through. I had us stop for lunch before we were all starving for once. After we ate, we did our house-cleaning chores right away instead of waiting till the learning was done. It worked nicely that way, and was a relief to know it wasn't hanging over our heads for later.  Spanish went really well today, and I am loving our new book. Caiden even said spelling was his favorite thing of the day, which shocked us all, even him!

Working on maps of the Eastern U.S.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fun, Fascinating, and Frustrating From Week Four

Week four was a little slow, as we were just getting back into the swing of things from the kids' summer break. We were also trying out a new schedule, so we took it slow and just did the core subjects. So far, I am delighted with the schedule and the new way of looking at school. I can't wait to dive into the whole thing next week!

FUN: The new schedule! It has all the 'fun' things, the delightful things, that make a Charlotte Mason education about so much more then just books. Things like composer study, music, art, foreign language, and handicrafts. These riches we were adding into afternoons, trying to make time after lunch and stuffing them all in. It just wasn't working for us, for so many reasons. We were tired and wanted to do something else by then, and it just seemed to take up so much of the afternoon. Now, the riches are sprinkled throughout the school day. It is so relaxing to have it planned this way. I know it will all get done, it doesn't feel pressured, and we get to do harder stuff in between the delightful, relaxing things.

We also had a lot of fun having a designated outside time every morning. I have a book of old-fashioned games, like leap-frog and blind-man's buff, and I am playing them with the kids in the yard for a break every day. How fun!

A lovely pink camo pocket! 
Hailey decided her
kangaroo Katy,
(from the book Katey-no-Pocket)
needed a pocket. 

Mr. Lego Man
FASCINATING: The older kids enjoyed (yes, they really enjoyed!) their phonics review we are doing this summer. That surprised me! Abby loved her story from James Herriot's book. Caiden liked finally hearing the story of Henry VIII's six wives for himself, and Hailey absolutely adored Robinson Crusoe.

FRUSTRATING: Although I know in my head that school cannot get done before noon anymore, it is still frustrating to me. I know I cannot get all the kids through school at the same time, and some have to take turns, but I still feel behind if we aren't done by lunch. I expected each day to take 1-2 hours past lunch, but it is still frustrating to switch gears to something we aren't used to doing.

We also had some frustrations with grumpy attitudes getting back to work after vacation, but I expected that and was mentally prepared to deal with it. It also wasn't as bad as some times!

Learning to cast out nines
Math- She is graphing coordinates

Friday, May 2, 2014

Grade Three Ambleside Online Exams, Term 2

Wow, I just realized I had this ready a long time ago, but I never posted it!

Hailey always looks forward to exam time. She loves to see her words written down, and she always tries to remember the stories really well, especially the ones from several months ago. She did the oral exams, which I typed for her, and a math and reading test. I also had her do a page from a writing test, just to give her practice. She wanted to do more!

Hailey Snyder
Third Grade, Term 2 Exam

History: Tell me about Guy Fawkes
   Guy Fawkes was part of a plot to destroy parliament. They sneakily found out where the parliament was going to have their next meeting and luckily there was storage containers under the building where parliament was having the meeting. Their plan was to get some gun powder and bring the storage containers and put the gunpowder inside one of the storage containers, cause the storage containers were under ground, and set it on fire.
   But that night they were found out and Guy Fawkes was the man who was told to set off the gun powder. And they took Guy Fawkes and all the gun powder away. And someone accidentally set off the gunpowder and it made a BOOM! But it didn't actually hurt anybody it just scared them. And they hanged Guy Fawkes for treason. Ever since that day they they had a celebration. They would make a man out of straw and old cloths and burn them. And here's a poem that goes with the story:

Remember, remember the fifth of November.
With gunpowder, treason and plot.
There is no reason gunpowder and treason
should ever be forgot.

Science: Tell what you know about volcanoes
   Well basically volcanoes are earth's way of letting out pressure. Inside of a volcano the magma which is lava not out of the volcano, builds up enough pressure and there is bubbles inside that pop but before they pop they like, all join up into a big, big bubble and then it pops and makes all the lava start rushing out and that's one of the worst kind of volcanoes.
   But there is a quiet volcano that people like to see. This one, the bubbles don't join up and they just go, “pop pop pop!” and fling up into the air with little chunks of lava and they get hard in the air and fall back down. Some of them are big and other are little dusts of sand. And some of the volcanoes don't even erupt lava, they just erupt dust and coals. The End.

Geography: What do you know about the beautiful city of Daidu?
   Daidu is not like our modern streets today. You could stand from one side of the city and look all the way down to see the last house in the city. So basically it's like a chessboard. And Daidu each house has it's own garden and courtyard. The Palace of the Mongols is one of the ones Marco Polo is greatly most interested about. In the king's room there is a throne for the Mongol king. 
   At the Mongol's birthday, everyone in the whole country comes to bring him presents. And anyone who has a present has to give him 90 of what they give him. They give him 90 white horses and other things. And in honor of the Mongol's birthday, they send a lion in and the lion bows before the Mongol king.
   And when the Mongols attack other places they were smart enough to use what the other people use against them as ideas of what they would do in the next battle. One time there was even soldiers mounted upon the elephant's backs. And the elephants were used as giant war horses. But then they scared the elephants away and when the elephants ran away the troops were falling off their backs so that didn't work. But then they used that idea for other battles.

   The Mongol King decided that it would be a great idea to claim a bunch of land for his own just for the hunting. The hunting parties back then were nothing like the hunting parties now. The hunting parties back then they had animals do all the work. They had halfway tamed tigers but just so the tigers didn't get too mean they had a little dog living with each one. They have falcons and other birds taking down smaller birds in the sky. They even trained eagles to kill wolves. The way they did that is kind of gross. They went and put one of their foots in its neck and one of their foots in its back and used their beak to pull out its liver. The End.

History: How London was Burned
   The great fire in London. People make many tales about how London was burned. But the most possible is there was a baker and one of his pies burnt because his stoves were made of wood and their houses were made of wood. And the fire spread from town to town but at that time people thought it was bad but then afterward people looked back at it and said, “hey, they did us some good because it got rid of the black death and burnt up the sickness”. And it also burnt up the garbage let the sun in and it also made the people make their houses wider next time.
   But to stop the fire they were breaking down an old house so that the fire would burn itself up. But the destruction was too slow and they had to flee. But then they decided to use gunpowder and that stopped the fire. The End

Literature: Tell me one of the American Tall Tales
   Johnny Appleseed was a man and in that time there was not very many apple trees. And he bought lots of apples and took... and ate them and kept their seeds in a little bag and he went around making orchards. And he was good friends to the animals. And one time he was walking around in the snow and he found an old log he wanted to go sleep in so he went in the log and he found that there was something soft and it was a bear. But he was friends with the bear. And one time he was walking along and he saw a big brown wolf, and the wolf liked him. And he stayed with the wolf. And the wolf was his pet.
   And after he died everyone was sad but one time a mad came walking and he saw Johnie Appleseed alive and walking around and he saw there was animals all around him. And he got up and then he went across a rainbow to heaven. The End.

Science: Tell me about Tookehees the wood mouse
   Tookehees the wood mouse is a small fellow and if you want to see him, he just wants to make sure that there is no danger. If there is a hawk flying above him he will peek out and then look startled and then go back in his cave. And then he will wait awhile and then come back out. Because if you were a hawk or a fox you would think he had saw you and then you would just go away.
   And his diet is of nuts and seeds and other things like that. And Tookhees is very hunted by predators. Foxes and wolves and maybe even some birds like big hawks. But he's not safe in the water either. There are hawks in the sky, and foxes and other things on the ground, and trouts in the water. And a wood mouse that is not scared is one that is going to die soon. If it doesn't know fear then it doesn't know that anything will hurt it. So if you get near enough to a wood mouse and it's not scared of you, then you should teach it to be afraid. The End.

Artist Study: Tell about a picture from Degas
       The lady ironing.
   The lady ironing has a dress with an apron tied around it and she's ironing some nice shirts. She's wearing a light dress and shes in a room and theirs a mirror on one of the walls and its kind of medium sized and its square. Most of It is white.

       The ballet dancers
   In the picture it looks like they are behind the curtains.... are not drawn on the stage. And they are getting their shoes on and some are stretching and they have little nice tutus with lime green and hot pink. And they look like they are getting ready to go on a show. There are little fake trees that they are leaning up against that are going to be part of the show. There is about eight or nine dancers getting ready and there's one near the back and shes bending down putting her shoes on. Theres another one in the front and shes got her hand on a tree and shes doing a stretch. The end.

History: Your favorite story from Jamestown
The Powhatan wouldn't give the settlers food and so they decided to take Pocahontas and he would have to pay her for ransom. But instead of being like the olden days, mean people who were mean to their prisoners, they let her roam around the village. And one time she even met some girls that wanted to play dress-up with her. And they said to her, this is what the English people wear. Then they took her on a ship to another village and her father didn't pay ransom for a long time and the people at Jamestown hoped he didn't cause they really liked Pocahontas. The End.

Literature: Tell your favorite story from The Children of the New Forest
   How they discovered their ponies. Edward said, “I would believe that you have ponies when they are in the stable”. And then he went to his house. The next morning Humphrey said to Pablo, “we will catch the horses today”. He was like, “I know there's a giant pile of drift snow and that will be perfect for what we need to do”. And then he put hay there and the ponies went and grazed on it every morning. And then one morning they went there before dawn. And they told their dogs to be behind trees and stay quiet until the ponies came. And then the ponies came and they jumped out and the dogs kept the ponies from running away. And they pushed three ponies into the pile of drift snow and tied their forelegs. And then Humphrey tied the front leg of the pony to the ponies neck so whenever the ponies looked up its front leg would go forward. All the ponies were made to walk in that position till they got home. The End.

Bible: Tell me the story of Queen Esther
   One day the King Ahazueres was the king and one day he decided that he didn't like his other queen. And then he wanted to pick the beautifulest queen and he called all the fair maidens to come. At this time King Ahazuerus had taken the Jews prisoner. And Esther was one of the Jews. But Esther was the one he decided to be the queen. And then he said..... her uncle told her not to tell them that she was a Jew.
   But a man Haman wanted to kill all the Jews. So he sent out a letter that there would be lots of money to those that went and attacked the Jews in their homes. And then one day two door-keepers got angry at the king and set a plot to kill him, but Esther knew that the plot was coming because her uncle had told her so, and she warned the king.
   And she was told by her uncle to try to save her people. And she went into the king's room and everyone that went to the king's bedroom without permission would die unless he gave her the golden scepter.
   And then she said, “oh king please pardon me,” and then he gave her the golden scepter. And then she said, “please come to a feast I have made ready for you tomorrow night,” and he did. And then the next morning she said the same thing. And she told him, “my uncle the Jew told me that the men were going to kill you,” and then he gave her a pardon and she said, “can you send out a letter to all the Jews and tell them to beware for the person that will come kill all the Jews?” and he did, the end.

Science: Tell me about something you have observed on a nature walk this winter
       The snow geese
   The snow geese are white with orange bills and big webbed feet and they've got longer necks then ducks, and they feel safer on the water. And to keep their feet warm they stand up and put one foot up in their feathers and just stand there. And then to keep the other foot warm they just do the other side. And then when they want to do both feet they just sit down on the snow.
   And the reason they are white is in the home they are supposed to be, that helps them keep camouflaged from the predators cause where they are supposed to be there is always snow. They migrate because in their other home it gets too cold sometimes and here it gets too hot. Their wing span is really, really, really big and they keep their feathers nice and clean. And their eggs are huge! They were just hanging out and when they go to eat they fly out to cornfields and stuff, and eat grain and seeds. And they are vegetarian, and then when they come back the other geese that are on the lake go, “honk honk honk!” and they like to talk a lot. They very, very, very, rarely will eat bugs. The end.

Composer: Tell me something about Tchaikovsky
   Tchaikovsky was a man and he was a composer who made a lot of great music. And then he made the Nutcracker and the story was, there was a prince who was attacked by a mouse king and the girl's toy nutcracker turned alive and turned into a prince and saved the girl from the mouse king and took her away. And then they went to a castle and chocolate did a ballet, and coffee did a ballet. And nutmeg did a ballet, and all the nice things. And my favorite music was the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Literature: Tell a story from the Heroes (Greek Mythology)
   Cassiopeia and her daughter were said to be the most beautiful mortals ever existing. But Cassiopeia was jealous and she told her daughter, “we're not just the most beautifulest of the humans, we're more beautiful then the gods and the sea nymphs”.
   But then, one of the sea gods heard her and was angered because she said she was more beautiful then his sea nymphs. And he sent a giant sea monster to raid the towns and anyone who came near to the shore would be swallowed and he would use his tail and splash it and the water would splash up and flood the towns.
   And the king went to the hermit and said, “how do I save my people?” And he said, “you must tie your daughter to a stone at sunset. The next morning the beast will awaken and take your daughter and then he will not raid your town anymore.” And he obeyed with much grief.
   But the next morning, Perseus saw her and fell in love at sight. And then he saw the monster coming and then he remembered that he had just killed the Gorgon and any mortal that saw it would be turned to stone. And he told the girl to turn away and she did. And then he pulled the Gorgon's head out of his sheepskin and the monster turned to stone. The End!

Science/ Geography: What causes the change of day and night?
   The rotation of the earth. It turns and Australia... it could be day easily in Australia and be night easily in the opposite side of the world. So what happens is. the earth turns, not its big circle but the little circle that the earth does.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Second Grade Exams, Ambleside Online Term 2

OK, so I haven't been keeping up with the weekly updates. We are now (obviously!) far beyond week 15. Here are Caiden's term 2 exams. I have never been able to video them and get the editing and all my hard work to save and post properly, so I did it the easy way this time. I was the secretary, these are his answers. 

These are selections from the things we have been learning about for the last 12 weeks. I get my exams, like the rest of our curriculum, from Ambleside Online. I may or may not post videos of him doing recitations of poetry and verses later. :) 

Ambleside Online

Caiden Snyder
Second Grade, Term 2 Exam

Bible: Tell how Haman's evil plot was stopped
Mordecai, he was a good man and he was in one of the king's books about the best people that did good deeds, and he was in there. Mordecai was in there. But Haman wanted to kill him, hang him on a gallows about, what, fifteen feet tall or something! And then the king, he was like “What do you think I should make my favorite person?” And then, he (Haman) was like, (cause he thought it was him) and he said lots of really really cool things. And then when it was given to the other guy he was really mad about that and then he got hanged on his own gallows.

History: What do you know about Richard the Lion Hearted?
King Richard the Lionhearted traveled in lots of crusades. And one of the crusades to get some people back for taking the Holy Land, and then when they got there only... they went with 4,000 people but they didn't get there with very many cause it was such a long trip. And on the way back he got... he had to go through a town and he dressed up himself like he was poor and then one of them saw his gloves and he was like, “You stole gloves from the king?” And he was like no, I am King Richard. And then they went to the castle and they put him in a tall dungeon and he was not murdered there like most people were. And he was sent from castle to castle and he finally got let free. And then he finally went back. The end!

Science: Flitter the Bat
Flitter the Bat, he likes hiding in the... he likes hiding down in like, dark places to get away from the sun cause he does not like sun. And he will eat little bugs like wasps and bees or anything else he can get. His coat is black and you most likely will find him in caves. It doesn't fly like birds, it flies much faster and it does not glide.

Literature: Tell what you know about the Hill of Difficulty in Pilgrim's Progress
He was at the bottom and as he walked he fell asleep. Under a tree he fell asleep. And after that when he woke up he lost his scroll and then he walked on cause at first he didn't know that, and then, and he turned around after he figured out that he lost it and he went back and then he went back up and at the top of the hill there were two lions and he was afraid of them but a man told him not to be afraid of them but he didn't see their chains case they were chained up. And he asked to go in the house to spend the night and the other dude he said, (and this dude's name is Christian) then he yelled to a girl. The End. More to come.

Geaography: Tell about Greenland
It's very cold and even at summer time its a pain to grow anything cause its so cold and in the winter its even worse. There's vikings that discovered it and they decided to call it Greenland, I have no idea why. And their great-great- great-grandsons were like the Duke of Normandy and stuff. And the Blue-Tooth dude. Not much lives there cause they cant find much to eat. But there's like seabirds and stuff ….so the vikings they didn't stay there for long cause they didn't like it at all. The end about Greenland.

Science: Tell about a bird or a tree you have studied this winter.
American Coot
We were at Confluence park and we saw American Coots and they were not at all like ducks are, or geese, cause they didn't have webbed feet. They didn't have bills like ducks they have beaks. And so I think they got like, little tough stuff in the water like little minnows or something and they need a beak to like spear them like herons or something. They are black and their babies are red and white and black. And so I'm probably guessing that they were on land more then in water but hey still lived really close to the water and one time we saw a whole lot of them just going into the water.... and they really use a sort of, the only way they eat is by, they eat like ducks putting their heads underwater and pecking stuff under the water. Or else they eat grain and they have to use their sharp beaks to get up pebbles to help grind the food up. And they are a lot like birds that do not live near the water. The end.

Composer: Tell something you know about Tchaikovsky
He's a really good music player, cause he is a music player. Well his music is ballet music. He started by a piano, a piano class, and eventually he ordered a top secret music thing for a ballet called The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. And so he wanted to get that instrument by secret so no one would use it. (He is talking about an armonica, which that song was composed on. )

Literature: What was your favorite part of The Wind in the Willows?
The Mole and the Rat. Once they found the mole's house and they stayed in it. They were walking so they could try to find the rat's house. And then the mole remembered that he had left his house. So he told Rat all about that. And the rat remembered that and so he tried to look for it with him. And they found it, they found the mole's house! And then they went into it and some singer people came and they asked to eat with them. And they let them in. So they had a good day. And then they went to sleep. And then they woke up the next morning and they had a good day at the moles house. And they had a good breakfast. The End.

Artist study: Describe your favorite picture from Degas
It was a dance place and they were just learning, it was like a class, they were doing a class. There was a dude talking and telling them what to do, and there was people standing around and there was a door int eh back of the picture and they were just coming on or leaving. It was a bright day and they were near a window and it looks like their mothers and their fathers were there, well some of them, and it looked like they were just performing for their dad and mom. And the old man had a staff and was talking to them through the microphone.

Geography/science: Tell why the sun seems to move
Because we go around it. It stays in one place but we go around it. We orbit it, actually. Sometimes the moon and the sun, the moon arises too early and it gets over it. It's really rare and it's an eclipse.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up, Week Fourteen ~ Some About Math

Math is continuing to improve for both children. Caiden is getting faster and more focused with his daily lessons, which means school is much less frustrating for him. Hailey is working on memorizing the multiplication tables by filling out a table daily. They are both working on learning to count by 3s and 4s right now, and we will move on to 6, 7, and 8 later. They already know how to count by the easy ones, 2, 5 and 10. They don't know how much this will help their multiplication and division!

Daily Math

The children have both finished up their daily math books, which means it is time for me to make some more. These books have the same pages which they fill in every day, practicing important concepts with different numbers. I pick what they are needing to work on currently, and incorporate it into the book.

Caiden's had a place to write a daily number, and most of the work was done with that. He has been writing the number in words, in numerals, in expanded form, and separating it out into expanded form.  He also adds and subtracts 1, 10, and 100 from the number. There is a section for writing the date, the day of the week, his name, and also a place to record temperature and time. He did this all every day.

Hailey's book was a little different. She still had a daily number, but she wrote hers in Roman numerals, and did some different equations with it, including multiplying and dividing by 2, and multiplying by 10 and 100.  She also recorded the temperature and time, and had a place for creating a word problem and drawing a picture for it.


The second thing the children do for math every day is drills. Hailey is working on memorizing the times tables. Her favorite way to do this is to fill out a table as far as she knows every day. Silly girl! But she is getting better and better!

Caiden is working on memorizing addition facts. Although he is good with addition, and pretty fast, I still have him working on it. I am gradually introducing the 'tricks' for some of the numbers, and this week he has been learning to quickly add nines.

Life of Fred

Both of the children are working their way through the elementary books in the Life of Fred series. There are 10 books in the main set with 3 additional books available for more learning before middle school. I have divided the books up, so that they will read a chapter or two a week, and then have activities corresponding to it on the other days. In that way I am using the books as a sort of spine.... it is the guide, but it isn't the only thing that we do.

On the off days, I use pages or kits from one of the many activity and workbooks I have bought from Scholastic over the last few years. I frequent their "one dollar day" sales, and love the fact that e-books are so simple to use with a printer. Hailey especially enjoys just using workbooks, and I have 3 or 4 that I use regularly for practice. Abby seems to be following in her footsteps and often asks to 'do math!' in her workbook.

In this way we have at least 3 different math things that we do each day. This helps us keep our lessons short, while still getting in lots of practice. The children seem to really enjoy having shorter lessons with more variety, and I am reassured that they are learning a lot of different concepts.

I still haven't figured out how to post the children's videos on here yet. They won't transfer into a new file format.... I really wish I could get them uploaded so if anyone has any advice I would appreciate it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up, Week Thirteen (a bit about geography)

Oops! I just realized this never posted! Better late then never, I suppose?  

 The children have finished up their first term of school this year, which means....

Exam time! 

The kiddos love their exams, and it is just a fun chance to show off what they have learned. Because I have been recording their exams on videos, I decided to just post them on here. I have to edit them, and put the clips together, because I am slightly fanatic about things like that. But It is so fun to have the finished product, with their hard work displayed!   And usually lots of silliness, too. I have gotten Hailey's video nearly done and will post it this week sometime.


Today I want to talk about geography. The children have various geography books they use, as well as learning about the world through teaching lessons, most of which happen outside. However, I really wanted to kiddos to have more factual knowledge of the world, specifically, where these places are that they keep hearing about in their books.

I was wondering how to make the map and locations more real to them. I started chatting about mapwork, a very Charlotte Mason idea which I wasn't really confident on how to implement, on the Ambleside Online forum. I decided to steal an idea from one of the helpful ladies there, and so far it has been working better then I ever imagined.

Basically, every so often the children draw a new map from scratch. This is a huge change from what I was doing before, when I had them add things to an outline map I printed for them. They weren't really remembering much about their mapwork using outline maps, so I switched to having them draw them for themselves. Hailey's first map was a little difficult, as she was certain she wasn't able to do it. Since then, they have just gotten better and better. She has drawn 3 or 4 maps, starting with Italy and the Mediterranean.

Drawing the area around the Mediterranean Sea, from her book of Marco Polo.

And more...

In other news, Hailey has finished up learning about the Tudor era. She was fascinated with all of the various characters, and really connected with this period.  The Tudor family is such a cast of conflicting, ambitious, tragic, and selfish characters. They all seem like something more out of a television show then real life! Her favorite of the Tudors was Queen Elizabeth, so I am glad that our biography of her will continue on through the rest of the term. She wasn't ready to be done with them!

Caiden has taken up a new hobby of his own accord. He is collecting, categorizing, and identifying rocks. He has several that he is searching for, among them sulfur, and any crystals he can find. He has happily found a few small geodes, and they are among his treasures. He spends a lot of time outside, with a small hammer and bucket, and his rock books, searching for different specimens. His new must-have item is a rock pick!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The "Gap" Myth

The gap myth is the idea that a complete, thorough education has no gaps.... that is, the child knows everything they need to know, everything they "should" know, to continue on and succeed in life. There is some kind of idea that children given a quality education will have attained a certain level of learning-  he is standing on a platform of knowledge that he has reached through his education. The result of a high-quality education, the foundation of the platform is a solid stack of concrete blocks, supporting the mystical achievement. 

As the example would hold, a low-quality education is full of gaps, thus, many of the required blocks are missing from that platform called '5th grade", "12 grade", "bachelor's degree", or whatever platform that particular person has reached. When released into the 'real world', the foundation of the platform will crumble, revealing to the world the 'gaps' in his education. This is an example of the gap myth. 

While in theory this may sound good, it is in fact nothing more then a myth. This idea that out there somewhere, the 'professionals' (in some high-ranking government agency, of course). have a closely guarded secret list, with all of those needed blocks on it, is a myth. Although our government is trying harder and harder to create a "national standardized" program for schools, the gap is still just as much a myth as ever. 


Answer # 1: Why is the gap theory a myth? The biggest reason that the theory is a myth, is that it is simply impossible to know everything that needs to be known. The whole vast knowledge of the world cannot be taught to any one person. Although when it's put that way, it seems pretty silly, that is basically what the 'gap' theory is all about. "But what if he has gaps in his education?" He does, he will, and we all do. That is the simple truth. 

Answer #2: The second, almost-as-good answer to the gap question, is the diversity of people (and tasks) in the world. How can you say your child will have no gaps in his education, if you do not know what he will need to know? That mystical, all-encompassing list of a successful education does not exist, nor will it ever. What I need to know is different from what you need. Street sense is no more or less valuable then calculus, and that is no more valuable then Greek history or the ability to shear a sheep.

Can you name, without looking it up, 10 indigenous evergreen trees of the United States, and give me their family groups, scientific names, and locations?  Can you tell me offhand which medicine should be given as a painkiller to a 10 month old child that weighs 25 lbs and has a broken leg? Do you know how to draft the blueprints for a 3-story, 4 acre warehouse designed for climate-controlled food storage? Most likely, you don't need to know how to do these things. But someone does.  

It is impossible to know what your child will need to know to succeed in life. Not only because you don't know what life will bring him, but also because we live in a vastly changing world. The fact is, the tools and technology your child may be using in 20 years probably hasn't even been invented yet! So the child is destined to have gaps, because life will constantly be bringing him new things to learn. 

Answer #3: Is there not learning after school? As we saw above, no one is 'ready for the real world' upon attaining some magical, mystical platform of education. So that raises the question, when is one ready? After high-school? After college? Or maybe, is the idea of the 'real world' the true fallacy. 

In fact, children are living in the real world upon the moment of their birth. All of life is the real world. What one needs in order to 'live in the real world' is, as well, a myth. If you are not a hermit, if you don't keep your children locked up in your basement, if you go to soccer practice, grocery shopping, and church, that IS the real world, and they are already in it. They are not any more or less PEOPLE then the adults around them, therefor they are already in the real world. They learn as they go, and they will continue to do so. 

So what is the real answer? 

I think there are two different things people are talking about when the bring of the gap fear. They are very different, and in their own way, very valid concerns. But neither is truly expressed realistically using the gap question. 

What do they NEED to know?


Are they ready for the next grade? 

Those are two very different questions. And when they are put that way, it is easy to come to much better, carefully-thought through, realistic answers. Like everything in life, we are much closer to a solution when we know what the question is. 

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