|Independence! What a great concept. Not only for our nation, but countries and people everywhere.
At the individual level, independence can be frightening - as children and students move away from dependence on the adults around them to being more reliant on their peers for information, instruction, and social cues - but essential to growth. How do we as responsible adults ensure that kids are absorbing the appropriate mix of research-based facts and peer-based groupthink as they develop their self-identities? We’re deep into this question now with our oldest son in middle school - he’s spending more and more time with friends, both in person and online, and becoming increasingly certain that no matter the topic or question, he’s right! We try to blame his amygdala instead of ourselves when explaining why he’s wrong ...
Question of the Week: How much temporal /physical /geographic /online /electronic /educational independence do you grant your childen / students?
In the News
One of the articles that started Amy on this epic quest to decrease our children’s dependence is a great piece in the New Yorker that discusses just how different the skillsets encouraged in American kids are from those in many other countries. In a similar vein, a recent Educational Leadership article discussed how the “personalized” learning many schools are now encouraging is actually less important than “personal,” or autonomous, self-directed, self-selected learning.
Amy homeschooled our two oldest sons for a year and a half through our school district’s independent study program. That experience was both wonderful for Amy and fun for our sons. Not to mention that they learned a ton, both academically and in many other areas that complemented and augmented their “conventional” education experiences. It was most fascinating, though, when they returned to school last fall to see just how their learning patterns and habits had changed from when they’d last been in classrooms. They wanted to study a broader range of material at a faster pace than was being set by their classroom teachers. We’re now trying to find a middle ground between fully independent learning and self-directed learning that they can enjoy.
Our sons’ educational journies would have been completely different even just ten years ago; there’s just so much amazing online content available to use for independent learning at home to augment in-school experiences. We’ve mentioned how much we love the Khan Academy before, and in addition to other things already mentioned, we also used a ton of other online resources such as Carrotsticks (math), World Education Games (math/spelling), Accelerated Reader (reading - through the school), National Novel Writing Month (writing), Mission US (history), and Discover Magazine (science).
Hoping you can use some of these ideas to help your child/student build some academic independence ...
With love and joy,
Jason and Amy
To Do List
1. Tweet a joyful moment to #JLNjoy
2. Post to the JLN Facebook page
3. Send in your favorite videos/books/organizations, tips, and ideas
4. Talk about joyful learning at least once in the next week to someone new
5. Tell a friend about the Joyful Learning Network ;)
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