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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Golden Mean

I have a confession to make. We've gotten off to a bit of a rocky start this school year. It seems that my oldest son has a common ailment...he's an eight-year-old boy. We were going to officially start this past Monday simply because most of the kids in town started school then, but I just ran out of energy for the necessary cajoling, pleading, threatening...you know what I'm talking about. All the homeschooling moms I've talked to say the same thing...he's a boy and he's eight. That lead me to the conclusion that the problem is not with him, but with me and my approach, so I've done some soul (and web) searching.

I Googled "homeschool motivation boys" and found a wonderful article at http://localhs.com/methods/motivation.asp on the concept of discipleship curriculum, written by Jonathan Lindvall.

The first main point I took from this is something that I already knew but also need a constant reminder of: he's only eight, do not expect him to have the discipline and abstract understanding of an adult. Obvious, right? But it's so easy to forget when you are constantly amazed by the perceptiveness of children and their ability to "cut to the chase." I guess I need to just tape a sign on his forehead saying "I am 8."

The second point is less obvious and really gets to the heart of homeschooling: Am I trying to fill his head with facts, fulfill some arbitrary quota of memorized stuff he needs to know, or am I trying to raise a child into a man? I am trying to raise a child into a man who loves God and God's world.

Mr. Lindvall's argument is that we need to raise our children to love God in what he calls the "Hebrew" tradition, which emphasizes learning through the word of God and life experience, as opposed to the "Greek" tradition or "book learning." Now, let me be clear, I agree with about the first half of Mr. Lindvall's article. I think there is value in postponing formal education until a slightly older age, that it is important to emphasize love of God and the Bible, activities, games, the beauty of nature, etc., especially in the early years...but now I'm going to get Greek on you...Aristotle's Golden Mean is about moderation. To not be deficient or excessive. For example, disregard for God's laws is a sin, but so is scrupulosity. It is wrong to overeat but also wrong to starve yourself...virtue is somewhere in between. Life is not black and white, one method of education is not right and another wrong, there are virtues in the so-called Greek tradition (as well as the Hebrew tradition) to be used in moderation.

And no, you cannot learn to be an engineer just by building with blocks and legos and listening to God's word. (Yes, my eight-year-old thinks he wants to be an engineer, his struggle with moderation comes from only wanting to do science. You should have heard him trying to explain to his 4 year-old sister how you can't race a matchbox car on a loop-the-loop track without friction...I guess maybe he's learning something after all.)

2 comments:

  1. Classical Education Approach is calling you...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, that's always been part of my somewhat eclectic mix...but what exactly do you do when your son is "bored" because he's not either building something or blowing it up?

    ReplyDelete

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