Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Raising up Hackers (Part 4)

Sorry I didn't blog yesterday. Bee has a double ear infection and we went to the doctor yesterday morning. Also we managed to get school done and clean the house. AND that's the pretty much the full 16 hours I'm awake during the day. 

Now we get to the title of this series. If you watched the TED Talk featuring the 13 year old boy that I linked to previously, you know he talked about "hacking" his own education. He did say that he studies the basics. And then the rest of the time he spends learning what he's interested in. THIS is the part of our daughter's education that is lacking.

We started toward more independence a few years ago when Sweetheart began 6th grade. I wrote a post back then about how I had realized something was wrong with the way we were doing school. About how the homeschooling sun rose and set with me. It was because of the curriculum choices I had made really, but Sweetheart was waiting on me to do every subject. The only thing she could really do independently was Handwriting.

And that is why we switched to Sonlight in her 6th grade year. It really has helped too. Now, in 8th grade, the only things she needs me for are discussion/questions, help with math as needed, and spelling. And of course help with questions at any time. But I'm not actively teaching her all day. Light years away from where we were in 5th grade!

Now, in preparation for high school next year, I've got her doing so much there literally aren't enough hours in the day. Not good.

So there are really two parts of this education overhaul:

1. Teaching my kids to hack their own education.
2. Changing the way I do a few of those "non-required" subjects so that they still love to learn. (more on that later)

I really, really don't want my kids hating school. I dont' have a problem with them thinking of it as sort of a chore that has to be done. But I would like to them to intermittently get excited about it. Those two items listed above are both going to play into that I hope.

So I started texting Sweetheart because I wanted a record of this conversation for later. Plus she was all the way in the other room.

Me: What do you want to learn about? What interests you but you have no time to learn it?
S: Well I have lots of interests....like I want to be a painter, a dog owner, writer,  horse rider and so on and so on and also how to create a business.
Me: What kind of painting? You skip art every week!
S: What art?
Me: I used to put art lesson plans in your planner every week but you kept skipping them so I stopped!
S: Oh yeah
I'm just so busy with school! I don't even have time to do things I want to do cause we clean the house on Saturday and then on Sundays I don't have time
And I can't get a dog
Or a horse

(Yep, she summed it all up pretty well!)

Me: That's why I'm asking. Daddy and i are trying to knock school down to be more manageable. So what would you teach yourself if you had time?
A unit study?
S: What's that?
Me: Where you pick a topic and then learn all about it. Let's pretend you picked deer. Although why would you? But for fun let's pretend.
Then you would read books about deer, watch movies and documentaries about deer, learn to sketch and paint deer, go visit a petting zoo that had deer, etc.......
You just learn all about something you are interested in.
S: Well, I really want to make a book. It sounds fun and that's what I would like to do in my spare time. I looked on this website the other day and it had links to show you how to publish a kids book.
Me: Yes, writing is definitely something we need to focus on since that is your interest and talent. But I also want you to learn to be a self-directed learner.
S: ?????
Me: Here's the thing, unless we spend 20 hours a day doing school there is NO WAY I'm going to be able to teach you every single thing you need to know for life, right?
S: Yeah
Me: So do you agree that even after you have graduated there will still be lots of things for you to learn?
S: yes, you learn your whole life

(Ding ding ding!!!! good answer Sweetheart!)

Me: Right!!!
S: Okay so I have to teach myself to do things when I'm older sooooo....
Me: How will you do that if Mommy has been holding your hand every minute telling you exactly what to do and when?
S: Read?
Me: Reading is good. The point is you need to know how to learn yourself and teach yourself things you are interested in.
S: How do I teach myself something I don't know how to do?
Me: Unit studies!

We continued that conversation later. The point is, Sweetheart couldn't wrap her head around just having time to learn whatever she wanted. I'm still not sure she has grasped it.

I guess I will just have to make time for her to find out. Long term goal here. See, I know she said "writing and publishing a book" but that will almost be something we do in school. Or as a part of school anyway.

What do your kids chase after? What are they teaching themselves right now? What are their outside-of-school interests?

Next time I'll share my really nerdy side.


  1. kate is REALLY good on learning for herself. She researches, she asks for supplies, she seeks out information. not worried about her. Matt really does the same thing...on a smaller lever.. Emily does too but at an even lower level. So my goal is to perhaps give them more time to do those things and to facilitate a little bit more making sure I find classes, supplies, situations on the things they are already seeking out themselves. and kicking that up a notch I think. But this whole series is still freaking me out because I HAD A PLAN. and while I am not in the same place as you I still worry about killing the love. Especially with Matt and Emily. So I do need to brainstorm and see what I can do about that. And brainstorming means changes.. and well... I HAD A PLAN!

  2. Not trying to mess with your plan!! Just trying to mess with mine!!

  3. Yeah but unfortunately your "argument"is ringing true with thoughts I was already having... So it brings them to the forefront.

  4. I'm sure you've already seen this, but you came to mind!! :)



I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)