In a related topic to individualized instruction, a goal that we as homeschoolers should be endeavoring to attain is self-education.
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”
― Charlotte Mason
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
– Isaac Asimov
“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing; the rest is mere sheep-herding.”
– Ezra Loomis
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.”
— Oscar Wilde
When we think about teaching and learning, we think of a dispenser of knowledge standing in front of a group of students who are soaking up everything (?) the lecturer or instructor intends for the students to absorb into their brain.
But is that what learning is really all about? Is that how you learn best? Think about how you learn. If you hear a speaker, and even if you are enthralled with what he is saying – even if you are hanging on every word – if you never think about their speech again, do you really remember it? What helps you to remember thoughts, ideas, and concepts? Don’t you have to keep thinking and meditating deeply and for long periods of time, engaging your whole brain. Don’t you have to use different learning faculties, such as writing, rereading your notes, discussing your thoughts with others, and even imparting the information to another person (teaching) in order to make the knowledge your own and embed it deeply into your brain so that it becomes a part of your memory?
There really is no such thing as teaching. There is only learning. Learning depends on the person who is trying to gain new information. If they are trying to make it their own, then the knowledge will most likely sink in. If the learner is not putting forth the effort to learn deeply, then the teacher has no power to cause learning to take place. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In the same way, you can lead a student to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.
Read and listen to this article and podcast about teaching and learning from the University of Pennsylvania.
So in your homeschool, make sure that you are giving your children plenty of time to think. You may ask questions to encourage further thinking. But give them time to think deeply about the answers to those questions. This is a missing element in the school-style of education. The students are given all of the information that the teacher wants them to spew forth on the exam, but real learning doesn’t occur, because the time to reflect, process, and meditate is not given to the students. That process is not even addressed or encouraged in most classrooms. Students are told that they have to memorize certain facts that will be covered on the test, and then they are evaluated on how well they memorized all of those facts.
We want something more for our students. We want them to be able to think deeply, and to ponder all sides of a matter. We want them to develop their own relationship with the information. We want them to care about it and make it their own knowledge. So, in order to make this happen, we need to lead them along to further thinking and questioning. We need to give them time to think and time to put in their own words what they are thinking about. Give them good mind food. Give them lofty ideals and hopes and aspirations to dream about. Give them books to read that inspire courage and conviction. Read stories to them about people who made a difference in the world – people who were honest and generous and filled with love for God and their fellow man.
When we do these things at home – when we give them great ideas and concepts to think about and then give them time to think about them and a way to express what they are thinking, we will help them to achieve a deeper, more lasting learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
This is self-education at its finest.
And you have the perfect opportunity to kindle this in your children when you homeschool them in this way.