The world around us is changing, and the skills and competencies that our kids need, or will need in the world ahead of them, are different than the skills and competencies we needed when we left school. We must continually ask ourselves – Are we preparing our kids for the current world, even though things are changing so fast we cannot even be sure what they will need come the end of their schooling years?
We need to be on the ball. We may need to make some changes. We may need to step out into uncomfortable arenas, we may need to learn new things ourselves, we may need to let our kids do things that we don’t fully know about or understand ourselves. This is the nature of homeschooling – we cannot afford to sit comfortably doing what has always been done. We must look at what is necessary for today, and plan to meet that need.
Two articles that reflect a change in education (big picture) caught my attention over the last week. Though I will link these below, I will summarise them for you.
First, Finland is apparently moving towards a topic based education where they will teach subjects within a context, instead of knowledge in stand alone subjects. For example, they will teach language, economics, geography not as three subjects, but in the context of, for example, the European Union. Finland is no longer teaching subjects. Finland schools are overhauling the way they do things.
The second article lists three trends that will shape the future of curriculum: digital delivery, interest driven, and skills 2.0 (or real world readiness).
Though I think a lot of homeschoolers use these very teaching methods, namely teaching by topic (unit study and living books), interest directed studies, skills based and maybe to a lesser degree digital delivery – I also am aware that we often fall back into old and familiar techniques or methods, forgetting the benefits of newer ideas.
One of the hardest things I have had to do as a homeschooler is breaking paradigms; resist doing what I have always done, or reverting back to the comfortable and instead focus on what I know works or is right for the given situation. Changing our mindset in what education looks like is tricky. Teaching by topic, being interest driven and focusing on skills is indeed different than learning by rote the facts and figures that a teacher (or curriculum) deems important.
Teaching by Topic – I personally found it easier to do unit studies with my primary school children (Five in a Row shaped our learning so much). When my kids reached middle school and then highschool, it was easy to switch over to subject driven lessons – though not always productive. This was a mind set, for both myself and my kids. One area that we did integrate well, into other subjects was language arts; reading, writing, thinking, speaking. One way we did teach by topic was to use living books – the book became our topic, and everything it addressed became the content we learnt.
Interest driven – When we followed an interest we were able to teach by topic much easier than just selecting a topic from a hat. The very nature of pursuing an interest or passion immediately integrates all subjects. Once again it was challenging to do this in highschool, because of the social norms that sometimes pressed against what our hearts wanted to do. One of the things that helped us work with interest driven units was when we saw it in terms of a project: a business project, a creative project, something to build, something to produce.
Skills based – People talk of the learning skills necessary for the 21st Century – what they are meaning is that there is a swing to see the research, thinking, problem solving, collaboration skills that real life projects need as valid in education. Once again when the kids took on a project, these things happened.
So really – when we embarked on teaching by topics (unit study approach), interest directed and skills based we do cover each of these teaching methods, inherently. And, this is possible in both primary and highschool levels.
Digital delivery – there are so many options available for online learning. I believe this is one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling in these days – the availability of online resources and information, as well as online courses and support. When our children incorporate the internet into their studies they are learning to research, discern, create and collaborate with others. This is all a part of living in this day and age and can richly enhance our homeschooling activities.
If you or your students are feeling a bit jaded or unmotivated, maybe you can look at switching over to a project based learning (another buzz word in education circles). Ask your student/s what they would be interested in learning or creating. Currently Daniel is working on a costume for a youth camp he is going to in a few weeks’ time. So far this has involved:
- Using the internet for research
- Talking ideas over with me (collaboration)
- Sketching his ideas
- Reading to make sure he understand the instructions
- Shopping for materials
- Changing plans as things didn’t work out as first thought
- Measuring and testing
He has covered History, Math, Technology, Life skills (enterprise), Science & Technology, Language arts as he talks about his project and research skills, as well as the moral choices of patience, flexibility and perseverance – and he hasn’t yet made the costume!
As a homeschool community we can be encouraged that these buzz word teaching methods are a part of our understanding. Though at the same time, there will be times where we ignore these because it goes against how things have always been done. We will need to make shifts in accepting these as valuable learning opportunities, just like teachers in schools have to adjust.
There is more than one way to learn and as homeschoolers we have the opportunity to optimise any opportunity, method, or technology that will help our children learn.
I’d be interested in hearing your stories too – have you switched to this type of learning? Has it been hard? Or have you seen great benefits? Please leave a comment.
Also sharing and linking with others:
Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)
Monday’s Musings, Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday Musings, Hip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Coffee and Conversation, Finishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years), Capture your Journey, Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, Shine Blog Hop, All things with Purpose, A Little R & R, From House to Home, Fellowship Fridays, Homeschooling Highschool Linkup, Weekly Wrap-up, Collage Fridays, My Week in Review