Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Self Learners in the Homeschool

As the ideas of self-learning begin to take hold in the homeschool community, I've been asked to share some practical tips on how to move your children into a self learning lifestyle.

Let me begin by saying that I feel the biggest problems we find in government and private schools is that the student is taught to be dependent upon someone else for their education - they are not given autonomy over their work. They never feel responsible for their education because someone else spoon feeds them and checks to make sure that the entire bite was swallowed. If it's not, they are given a grade and labeled. If they do, they are given a grade and labeled. It no longer becomes about knowledge and learning, but rather about who is the best at opening wide and swallowing.

The reason homeschoolers are being courted by ivy league schools and are excelling in college over their peers is because most, through the sovereign hand necessity, have become autodidacts: self learners. Mom hands them the book and the Teacher's Manual and tells them to go learn. They study, do the work, then check to see if it was correct. They have no reason to cheat, for no one is looking at their answers on a daily basis. Chapter tests are all mom oversees and the child is ever mindful that the proof will be in the SAT pudding served up in 11th grade. With this autonomy, the student is empowered and given charge of their lives, their future and their education. They feel good when they do well, not because anyone else thinks they did a good job - no one really knows but themselves. They become self motivated learners, motivated by their personal and private sense of achievement.

Homeschoolers do not need a teacher to stand over them and teach material, telling them what will and will not be on the test (so that they can pick and choose what to store in their shortterm memory). They do not have an authority figure over them, making sure they have done their homework, bringing swift punishment when it's not done.

Homeschoolers in high school do their work because they want to learn - they are self motivated because they know there is no other way. They see the future and know what it takes to get where they want to go - they are not as focused on peers, relationships and popularity. Their world does not revolve around today's interpersonal issues, but rather on reaching the goals they have set for themselves.

Now, all of this does not happen over night. A student doesn't go from being spoon fed their work, with mom checking over every problem and standing over them all day, to an independent self motivated scholar. It happens gradually over a period of years, as mom moves from teacher to coach to facilitator to mentor.

Over the next few days, I will be blogging on how to achieve the desired outcome of producing independent learners.

Tune back in!