homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Context

I don't blog more because free time is precious and there are so many other tasks clamoring for my attention. But I have a few minutes, and a need to rant.

See, for a number of reasons, I have been moving away from wholly unschooling and toward a more guided approach to quantifiable instruction. Part of me needs it, part of me hates it, and I'm conflicted. Someday perhaps I'll blog about that. But for the time being, just suffice it to say that I'm trying to organize both our plans and our natural-happenings into some sort of lesson plan structure. And it has brought me full-circle with regards to this whole homeschooling thing.

There are a big messy handful of reasons I have chosen this path, and one of the ones that I come back to over and over again is *context*. The notion that realms of information exist, and can be taught, in isolation from each other is absurd. How can you learn science without math? History without geography? And so on.

In an ideal learning journey, I think that multiple disciplines should be explored as they relate to one another. This is why unit studies appeal to me so deeply. I want a full, vivid picture of the subject, and a broad understanding of how it fits in with everything it may affect (or be affected by). I owe a great debt to my high school history professor, Art Richardson, for making us read outside our history textbook. He had us read contemporary philosophers, religious leaders, economists, and more. We hated it at first, but then...ah ha! It was like new connections started to weave through our understanding, and instead of packets of compartmentalized data, we began to build a web of knowledge. What is the point of memorizing dates? To regurgitate them correctly on a multiple-choice test and be done with it? Or to reconcile one event with other things that were happening at the same time? Can you really understand the Age of Exploration without fully considering that era's economics, religion, scientific inquiry, politics, etc?

All of this is meant to illustrate my current daily rant, which is...where do I put the "geography" materials? We pull out the atlas or the globe when we study history, but also when we learn about science (identify an animal's biome, identify examples of geological formations...) and also when we're reading literature...

It seems to me that some things can't be separated from their context. But our accepted model of education does so...and I'm left wondering why. To me, it seems inefficient at best, ineffective at worst...

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