Sunday, November 16, 2008

Progressivism - A philosophy

This 8-wk. unit, I'm studying philosophy and education. One of these classes I'm just loving! The other..... well, not so much. ;) A funny thing happened this week when the two mixed! We studied and developed our own philosophy of education. Here's what I posted this week on my class discussion board:


I was surprised to see that the educational philosophy that is most closely related to mine is progressivism, the fad philosophy that is severely criticized. I never would have guessed it. The other homeschool moms in my area do lovingly call me a rebel, but I still haven’t figured out exactly why!

What speaks to me from this philosophy is the emphasis on activity-oriented and learner-directed education. Those are two topics that are near and dear to my heart. I believe that a child can learn so much more by experiencing a concept rather than listening to a lecture or doing worksheets. For instance, one day the lesson plans for my 2nd grade son's math lesson called for counting the coins printed on the worksheet while listening quietly to the teacher explain the concept and value of money. Instead of this, my son got to experience math concepts by getting a handful of change and pretending to purchase items for a specific amount of money while learning about money concepts. He added, subtracted, and reviewed the value of the different coins. Obviously, it is more enjoyable to play with real money. However, I believe his experience with real things enabled him to truly understand what he was being taught. I’ve seen children yawn during history lessons but be able to give detailed descriptions of historical events and people they read about in a thrilling biography. I’ve seen a child completely overwhelmed at the thought of writing, start writing notes on a book he was reading because he didn’t want to forget anything. The same student later easily wrote an instructional report on how to play a new game because he enjoyed the topic he was writing about and learned writing skills in an environment that encouraged his ability instead of devastating his self esteem and just requiring that he "do what is required." I could include many more examples and write a book with all that is in my heart on this topic. Important academic skills need to be learned, but I just don’t believe they can truly be learned by half-listening to mind numbing lectures that don’t engage the child. Draw your students in! Make them “want” to know what they need to know.