I am a homeschooling mother of 4 - 3 of whom are on the autism spectrum, have ADHD, and have various other diagnoses.
As I have researched, planned, and evaluated the outcome of my teaching over the years I came to much the same analysis of education as you described in this video. The "must haves" I called content. I included essential information and skills in this category. The "could dos" I called presentation. Within the category of presentation I included the twin concerns of what works for the teacher to teach and what works for the student to be taught.
One of my frustrations with curricula has been the tendency for the focus to be on presentation without a thorough analysis of content. For example, when I began teaching my oldest to read, she had very little problem with the task until I taught her a rule (silent e . . . . ) which then had many common exceptions. She refused to continue or try (at the time I didn't know she was on the spectrum and that in the end it was a problem of logic). I tried over a dozen different commercial programs to find one that would "click" for her. Working through all these programs I realized they were teaching the same content as my initial program, it was just presented differently: different vocabulary, different activities, different order, different colors, different characters. For my daughter, the problem wasn't the presentation it was the content. It seemed to me that none of the program developers were questioning what they were teaching; they were confounding content and presentation. The categories of information were the same. The rules were the same. The frustrating errors were the same (mat to mate, pet to Pete, fin to fine, hop to hope, hug to huge). For my daughter these types of errors were anathema.
In the end I decided I had to figure out the essential content (both skills and information) of reading instruction before teaching her. I analyzed 17,000 words for their sound spelling correspondences and organized (is organization a part of content or presentation?) them in such a fashion in which I never had to backtrack my teaching: In these words this letter or group of letters spell(s) this(these) sound(s). Within 9 months of beginning this type of instruction, she was reading at a college level.
If I may, I have a tangential question. First, background. Within the homeschooling community there is subgroup of us who subscribe to a "classical education" model, based on the trivium of years gone by. Much of the system is based on an article by Dorothy Sayers (compatriot of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at Oxford) entitled "The Lost Tools of Learning" This model takes the three stages of the trivium-grammar, logic, and rhetoric-and applies them to the development of children and the type of content that should be taught within each developmental stage.
Once I let go of my Waldorfian delusions, this is the model I used to plan my children's education. However, recently I have really hit a snag with my son, who, along with Asperger's and ADHD, also has been diagnosed with ODD. He resists educational efforts vociferously. We, as well as the rest of my children, have been miserable.
So, I find myself asking myself the much the same type of questions as I did when trying to figure out teaching reading to my daughter: What is the essential content of elementary education? How does that apply to child development? Beyond the essential skills of reading and mathematics, what am I trying to inculcate in the elementary aged child? What habits of thought and what information are essential? What are the "could do" options that will in fact teach these things?
More specifically, I am trying to figure out if the trivium model applied to elementary aged children is reasonable. My son would be in the "grammar stage" in which he is suppose to crave, and I am suppose to teach, facts. As a person who loves information and ideas, I have not questioned this approach, but I am forced by my situation to reevaluate. The child development and pedagogical books I have consulted have been too amorphous in their discussion to be helpful.
I've been thinking about this on and off since you posted it, hoping that I would come to some insight that would be helpful, or at least interesting. I haven't. :(
The questions you raise are,as you know, enormous, so it's hard to come to any hard and fast conclusions. One consideration lurking behind them that I think needs to be front-and-center is what your *goals* are for your kids education. Is the primary goal to be a civic-minded member of the community? Is it to get a job? Is it to be a happy, fulfilled adult? All of these are valid and may overlap, but they aren't identical, and they would dictate different emphases in a curriculum.
As to the trivium, I'm afraid I'm not familiar enough with the particulars to comment.
The blog is all about the discussion that teaching is art or science.I think that it is art with the combination of science.Thanks a lot.
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The goal of this blog is to provide pointers to scientific findings that are applicable to education that I think ought to receive more attention.
21st Century Skills