Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Does It Mean?

The more I look into and read about the Well Trained Mind classical method of education, the more excited I am about starting with it in mid-August.

One thing I have encountered quite a bit over the last few years of home-schooling Addie is that I would teach Addie something (a verse, passage, or even a book) and after she quoted her memorized fact or verse for someone outside of our home, she would then be asked, "Now do you know what that means?" and then they would proceed to try to "teach" her the meaning in theological terms what the deep meaning was.

Honestly, that would frustrate me to no end, because I personally felt as if they were saying, "Yes, she can recite this, but she still doesn't know what it means so you really didn't teach her anything." Yet I knew from spending hours teaching my daughter that there were things that she got and there were things she didn't understand yet, I just didn't know how to explain it to an "outsider." Now I can.

With the Well Trained Mind method, facts and memorization and laying the foundation happens during the first through 4th grades because children at this developmental level are great at memorizing (which is why Addie can recite up to 20 verses with a one word prompting). Their critical thinking/ logistical skills generally don't begin to be seen until they hit fifth grade.

Once the 5th through 8th grades come (the logical stage), the child then goes back to the beginning of what they have already learned and NOW begins to learn the meanings (the whys and hows) of the information they previously learned the facts for.

Comparing the curriculums that I have taught in a classroom and the Well Trained Mind method, I can see how this method works with and for the child. In the traditional curriculums, children are taught a little bit of everything in a one year period, and then every year it is expanded on. Yet they are still expected to learn only a little bit about everything in a one year period.

With the Well Trained Mind method, children are taught in 4 year groupings. Each year they are taught "chunks" of information in grammar, history, writing, and science. At the end of the 4 years, they go back to the beginning and then begin to expand logically to what they learned the facts to.

From the 9th through 12th grades is the rhetoric stage and students are then taught how to use the skills they have refined to speak, write, debate, and express themselves with "fluency, grace, elegance, and persuasiveness." (from The Well Trained Mind p.461) They are now able to speak with correct information (facts), form their own opinions (logic), and express their views (rhetoric) in a way that is intelligent.

That is what we want for Addie and Ian.

Brian and I are convinced that, because of her personality, Addie will either grow up to own her own business and be "the boss" or be a lawyer. We want to make sure that we are giving her the kind of education that will help her become who God has created her to be. This curriculum will require much more from me, but I look forward to the challenge. I also look forward to working with Ian to prepare him to begin this program when the time comes for him to begin school.

I have been spending quite a bit of time on ebay piecing together the books that we will need to begin our next school year. I still have a few books to go, but I am feeling good about what the next school year is going to bring.


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