Monday, 16 June 2008

Homeschooling vision

The boys and I are walking in the neighbourhood. They each have a few papers in hand and their eyes are trained on the trees. They are looking for leaves that match the drawings on their papers. Today we are learning to identify the trees that grow in our area. Colin squeals with glee as he finds a maple leaf. Caleb is perplexed because he has found a leaf that doesn't match any of the sketches. He pockets the find to take home and compare in an encyclopedia.

The next day we take our walk south of Broadway. We are on an architectural treasure hunt. There are numerous century homes in our town, all marked with plaques naming the year they were constructed, the person who built it, and the occupation of the resident. We plop ourselves down in front of the first century home and observe the architectural points - brick, wood, sloped roof, large windows, gables. The house beside it is much newer. What common elements are there?

The following day rains. Today we are having a math lesson. We want to make muffins, but we need twice as many as the recipe calls for. Colin is in charge of calling out the new amounts. Caleb fills the measuring cups and pours the ingredients into our bowl. Later, while we enjoy our whole wheat muffins, we clip out healthy foods from the grocery flyer and glue them to paper, creating healthy meal plans.

Final exams (far in the future). Again we are out on a walk in the neighbourhood. We stop in front of a house and I ask Caleb to name the era the house was built and ten features that mark it. A Canadian goose flies overhead and Colin talks about the migratory patterns of birds. As we meander down main street, Colin gives a dissertation on what free trade coffee is and its importance to our economics. We rest at the gazebo in the park the boys treat me to a concert - first a Broadway duet, followed by an epic poem recitation by Colin and a guitar melody Caleb composed.

The final test happens at home - the boys are preparing a meal they created from food storage supplies, while I take a look at their plan for a one year food storage.

(I'm not sure if I would homeschool, although I wouldn't rule it out. But as I was taking a walk with the boys last week, this vision formed in my mind and it seemed so lovely, balanced and natural. I know this kind of learning would be impractical on a large scale, but it seems so much more natural and applicable than sitting at a desk, fenced in by four walls and reading a textbook!)

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