Studying an area and then making a lecture in front of an audience, is a good way to learn about a subject and making the knowledge stick in your mind. We use that as a general way of learning. The children choose a subject, then study it and then tell about it.
When we want to summarize what we have learned or a subject is hard for us to remember, we make posters. Our whole house is full of them. It is also a good way to easily look up formulas or grammar during teaching. The younger kids also benefit, they walk by and read about what they find interesting. Then we get a chance to talk with them about new areas.
At the end of the year each of our kids make a poster with the different areas they have learned about in math.
Esrum Monastery is a great place to visit and learn about the reformation in many different hands on ways. There is a game room, where you can play a game where you can choose to represent or support the church or the king. Then you play against each others teams and learn about the different influences and powers which ruled then.
It is also situated in very beautiful surroundings. There is a large playground and a medicinal garden.
Today we got to try out if we could make smoke rings with a Vortex Canon and smoke bombs. It worked! We had seen it at a Maker Space arrangement, and thought it could be so cool to try. The Vortex Canon works with air pressure. It is very simple, you pull back an elastic inside the cylinder.
As a child I really loved to play with Barbie dolls. It was an amazing universe for me. I build houses and made clothes for my dolls. Actually it was my start into learning to sew. I keept most of my dolls and their accessories until I got children of my own. When they were old enough, they were allowed to play with them.
My children has continued the fondness for Barbie and I get so happy when I see them play. When we found out that Lene Darlie Pedersen had collected more than 4000 dolls, we had to go see her amazing museum. http://barbiemuseum.dk/
The dolls shows fashion through the past 50 years and Barbies development. The owner took us through the exhibition on a personal tour, where we could ask questions and was also allowed to have a look around on our own at the end of our visit. It was truly amazing.
The owner had started out collecting porcelain dolls, but found they were too expensive. But Barbie was affordable, so she could add new dolls to her collection frequently.
What a great read. I enjoyed this book so much. Having already read “School is dead” by Everett Reimer, “Hvis Skolen Ikke Fantes”, Nils Christie and “Deschooling Society”, Ivan Illich, all books from around 1970, it was interesting to read “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto. A book published in 1992. He was just as John Holt, a school teacher, who became disillusioned with the American school system. While, John Holt only stayed a brief period of time in the school system, as a teacher, John Taylor Gatto stayed for 30 years. Mainly in the New York area. He taught both rich and poor students, but his experiences with the pupils in the school system were the same.
In 1991 John Taylor Gatto was named “New York State Teacher of the Year”. On that occasion, he gave a speech. This is where he for the first time put forward his “Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher” where he describes the function of at School Teacher. In real life. Not how we theoretically want a School Teachers function to be. But how his 30 years of experience in the system, had been.
Here we go:
- Confusion. A constant violation of natural order and sequence dismissed as quality in education.
- Class Position. You come to know your place.
- Indifference. When the bell rings, what you have learned, don’t matter anymore.
- Emotional Dependency. You have to surrender your own will to the predestinated chain of command.
- Intellectual Dependency. Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do.
- Provisional Self-Esteem. People need to be told what they are worth.
- One Can’t hide. There are no private spaces for children, there is no private time.
He also makes a short summary of how new compulsory schooling is. In the USA it came about in the State of Massachusetts around 1850. 80% of Massachusetts population resisted, sometimes with guns, and did not surrender its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and the children marched to school under guard.
That Schools were designed to be instruments for the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce humans whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.
Two institutions at present control our childrens lives: Television and Schooling, in that order. Both of these reduce the real world of wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice to a never-ending, nonstop abstraction. In the past our childrens lives would have been occupied by real work, real charity, real adventures, and the realistic search for mentors who might teach you what you really want to learn.
He makes a calculus of time the Children in School must deal with: Out of 168 hours a week children sleep 56. That leaves them 112 hours to fashion a self. Children watch 55 hours of television a week. That leaves them 57 hours to grow up. Children attend school 30 hours a week, use 8 hours to get ready and travelling to school, 7 hours on homework – a total of 45 hours. During that time they are under constant surveillance. they have no private time or private space. That leaves them 12 hours a week out of which to create a unique consciousness. Of course, the children eat too, that takes some time – but not much, as they have lost the tradition of family dining. So we allot 3 hours a week to eating, and that leaves a child with 9 hours of private time a week.
Gatto tells what effect this has on his pupils:
- They are indifferent to the adult world. Nobody want’s to grow up.
- They have no curiosity. They cannot concentrate for very long at a time.
- They have a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is inextricably linked to today.
- They become ahistorical. They have no idea about how the past has predestinated their own present.
- They are cruel to each other, lack compassion for misfortune, laugh at weakness.
- They are uneasy with intimacy. For their whole life they have hidden their inner self inside a larger outer personality made up of artificial bits and pieces of behavior borrowed from television or acquired to manipulate teachers.
- They are materialistic, grade everything as a School teacher and copy television mentors who offer everything in the world for sale.
- They are dependent and passive.
How can we turn this around? Gatto says it is not about pouring more money into a sinking ship. We have to rethink what it is we want our children to learn and why. Gatto is a fond believer in mentors. Including all groups of the community into the community again. Not separating the population into groups of parasites and putting working people on a pedestal. He did many programs for his pupils where they committed themselves to community service. Many of those pupils came back many years later and told him how that experience had changed their lives. How it had helped them rethink goals and values.
Gatto says that it is time for a return to democracy, individuality and family.
Gatto makes a sharp distinction between Networks and Communities. He believes that todays schools are called communities, but are really networks. There is nothing wrong with networks, but if we believe they have the values of communities, we are left betrayed and lonely.
To sum up the book, it is a great critical view on our current education system. We need to review how we think and understand learning. Education does not equal learning. A good life does not equal a constant march towards achieving material goods and distinctions.
Home Schooling is all about giving and sharing. Sharing knowledge with your children. Teaching them that when you give to the universe it comes back to you. The best way to create friendships is through being a giving person. Sharing knowledge is the way to a better world. Creating a community comes through everyone giving what they can and know. Sharing knowledge.
When we started out Home Schooling, I very early decided, that to create our own community, we had to be very active towards arranging meetings, events and play dates. I also wanted to strengthen the children’s feeling of normality by seeking out like-minded people.
So right from the start we went on with arranging meetings at out house, general meetings, meetings with a subject, seasonal events and playdates. All the skills we have, we have shared with other home schoolers. I have had guest students, taught sewing, acting, dancing, biology, natural science, geography and much more to those who have been interested.
We have been so lucky to meet a lot of wonderful people who has done the same for us. We are grateful.
Being a Home Schooler, gives you much freedom in how you choose to learn. We believe that the best way to learn, is through real life relevance. Learning from someone, who actually does the thing you enjoy and are interested in for a living, is inspiring. You can learn that way, if you manage to find a mentor, who is willing to take you on. In 2016 we were lucky to have such a mentor to take on our oldest daughter in her mosaic shop in Copenhagen. Our daughter got to observe trade, sort mosaic and help make an order for a table.
That encouraged us to think, that as a home schooler you can actually have as many work placements, as you would like. In theory you could try a new trade every week and see in real life if it was something you would like to do.
Our oldest daughter is very fond of Greek myths and in Copenhagen there is a museum called “Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek” which has Greek, Roman, Egyptian and so much more artifacts. We come there often and she loves the place. So she wrote to them and got a one week work placement there. It was very organised and she was very well taken care of.
Then our daughter also wanted to try to work in a library. Her favorite library is “Trommen” in Hørsholm. It is a beautiful library. So she wrote to them and got a work placement there for a week. That was also a very organised and exiting placement, where she got to go to meetings with the staff, sort books, arrange displays and so on.
When our other children get old enough, so that work places want to take them on, we are thinking of the interests they have, what could be interesting for them. The next one in line, wants to become a dentist. She already goes with me to the dentist, to watch, and my dentist has already offered her a work placement, when she is old enough 🙂 The next child is very interested in biology and insects particularly. She has already attended ZooCamp a few times. But I am sure we can find something when time comes, that could be interesting for her. At the moment, we are looking for a publisher, who would like to take on our oldest daughter. Preferably in the Copenhagen area. Anyone who can help?
Our fascination with weird sea animals continue. This time the children has chosen to examine the Peacock mantis shrimp. You can see more movies made by our children on their youtube channel – Videnskanalen: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ECOh462jxQraolPZ53evw
People often ask us to tell about a typical home school day. So here we go. The main thing about home schooling, is that there is no such thing, as a typical day/week. You have the freedom to have a new plan everyday. But for us, there is a need to have a plan and the security of repetition.
Many years ago our oldest daughter asked to have a weekly schedule put up on the wall every week, so she would know what our plans were. So every week I make a new schedule and put up Sunday evening. Some things will continue to be on the schedule for a long time and others, are only one of events.
The subjects on the schedule is a mix of adult and child wishes. I have chosen that they do general subjects that keep their learning above public school level, so it would be easy academically to enter a public school, if we no longer are able to home school. But also to prepare them for high school or other later education of their choice. Then the children have chosen to have additional subjects, like Spanish, Latin and Chinese. Subjects and how often we have them can vary on our schedule. We can also have weeks where we do project work intensively.
Well, back to a typical day. Let’s start with today. Today we had a day at home. We try to ballance days out of the house and days at home. We often get to plan too much, especially trips and activities out of the house. That often leaves us exhausted and longing for a day at home to get back our energy and catch up on basic stuff. We also really like to get good food and to have time to eat. As a general rule, we try to stay at home in the daytime every second day.
We usually get up at around 7 am-8 am. Then we all do our chores, do our exercises and positive confirmations. The kids empty the dishwasher, they put away any clean dry laundry, they open the windows and air out the house to start of with a fresh oxygen filled house. In the evening I have put their books ready on the table, so they can start working when they are dressed and have done their personal hygiene. I hang up any wet laundry to dry and put on the washing machine with a new load. Then I do my exercises, while the kids do their individual schoolwork like math, Danish, English and German. I go to and from my exercises to help them when they get stuck and so goes the time until around 9 am-9:30. Then I usually get time to get dressed and get ready. I make breakfast, alone or with a kid who needs a break from school work. Then we sit down together and eat.
We usually then do our common school work. That is the rest of the subjects, mentioned above. Today we did biology, Latin and biology project.
For Latin we are currently using https://www.clc.cambridgescp.com/sites/www.cambridgescpcom/files/legacy_root_files/clc/webbooks/book1/index.html?p=1
I prepared bread in the kitchen while they worked on the Latin exercises, and then corrected them together with them.
Then the children worked on a movie for their youtube channel, while I prepared lunch together with the smallest child in the kitchen.
Then we watched their work on the computer while eating, and decided on redoing it after eating. So we shot another section of the movie, until we were happy with the result.
Then the youngest child and I made a beetroot chocolate cake in the kitchen, while the oldest child edited the movie together and worked on her musical as well. The two middle children sewed on their costumes for a dance show they are planning.
Then we were expecting two good friends to come over for a sleepover, but unfortunately they had gotten the flu, so we had to eat the cake on our own. Don’t worry friends, if you read this, we will make a new one for you.
The at 3 pm we have quiet time until 4 pm. At that time you can do what you want to do – play on the computer, watch movies, talk to your friends on the phone, read, play outside or go where your imagination takes you. I meditate and drink tea.
Today we have a quiet evening. No spare time activities or work. We all enjoy having our meals together and being able to talk and relax in the evening with a movie or game together. The kids often work on creative projects in the evening, writing, sewing, knitting or drawing. They often also just play and make lots of noise and play music and dance.
So how does a typical week look?
A general example of our weekly schedule could look like this:
The subjects at the bottom has stayed the same for a while, because it work well. We have a language a day, as the kids like languages. We have math and danish three days a week, because they got fed up with having it every day. We finish our books already in april every year anyway, so we manage to do enough work anyway, to be ahead of general curriculum. My work is on the schedule, so the kids know when I am not at home in the evening or daytime. The childrens newspaper route is also on the schedule, so we are able to make everything work out with the time we have available. Creative subjects are not on the schedule, as they are present in most things we do, and they infiltrate most other subjects. Project on thursday and friday is a new thing we are trying after the kids started a knowledge based youtube channel called : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2ECOh462jxQraolPZ53evw
At the middle of the schedule you see events that vary from week to week, like playdates, trips, hobbies, meetings and so on. The kids attend different sparetime activities outside the house like physics and chemistry, drama and ballet. They figure on the schedule on and off, when they have their seasons.
The weekend is also included, as we often go on educational trips together as a family in the weekend or visit friends and family.
Next week will be the winter holiday. Originally, when starting out home schooling, we did not separate school and spare time, but we have found that we have a need to do this. So we now have the same holidays as schools. The difference is just that we do not do the usual subjects, but mostly do trips and project work. This winter holiday we will work intensively on costumes, painting the barrel and go pick branches for our fastelavn celebrations. We are so looking forward!