Monday, July 29, 2013

An Educational Pondering

Last night I had a conversation with a family friend, who is also a fellow homeschooler, that just has me ruminating.  He informed me that his children had not completed their school work from the previous school year and had been working on it throughout the summer and, unaware of our approach to education, wondered if we had the same issue.  I replied with a simple no.  He looked a bit flabbergasted and pressed on by asking if they had been engaged in any academic pursuits throughout the summer.  As we are always scoping out subjects that others would consider academic I replied, "Of course."  Wanting to know what sorts of things we had been doing I shared, among other things, that Maceo had developed an interest in astrophysics and had begun studying it.  He informed me that Maceo needed to do physics before jumping in to astrophysics.  I disagreed and expressed my belief that because Maceo's interest in astrophysics is so high he would learn the concepts of physics as he is learning about the physical properties of celestial bodies and the universe.  He looked doubtful.  He believes that there is a proper sequence that must be adhered to when learning academic subject matter.   I disagree.  If I require of Maceo that he take physics, calculus and all other maths leading up to calculus prior to delving in to astrophysics I imagine he could lose interest in the initial subject that excited him.  I also imagine that if I allow and encourage him to pursue astrophysics presently he might (1) succeed; (2) find that he needs more knowledge in physics and math prior to going further in his studies (and the study of these subjects will not then seem arbitrary to him but will be firmly grounded in purpose); (3) find that he isn't as interested in the subject as he had imagined (and even then will have likely learned something he didn't know before); or (4) (because it is worth restating) succeed.  When my child comes to me expressing an interest in any particular subject matter and expresses a desire to pursue studies of that subject matter why should I dampen their enthusiasm?  Why shouldn't he get to approach the subject matter of choice with the enthusiasm, optimism and can-do attitude of youth?  And why shouldn't I do all I can to be a part of preserving that attitude?  I believe that he should and I should and that is what I strive for.

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