I was really inspired this summer by the conference speaker on the practices of a One Room Schoolhouse Teacher, or School Marm. As well as visits to local schoolhouses, and knowing my Grandmother was a school marm in the 1930s. Homeschooling (and "Un-Schooling") was the norm up until then, and then around 1920 it was standard to send your children to the public school. But it wasn't at all like today, and that's what I like about it. They reared and educated self-motivated, polite, moral children back then. I hope to implement some of these ideas into our upcoming school year.
Old School: No grades, rather you work progressively as an individual through the series of books. When the school year ends, you stop and pickup there when you come back. You progress with success, because you don't have to "Catch up" to anyone. Multi-aged children and families are stronger because of the classroom diversity. The younger children thrive on learning as they watch and play with the older children. Kids wanted to learn because it was a privilege and a chance to just be kids.
New School: Kids are separated by age and committed to succeed or fail based on your grasp of the material given to the group. If you don't understand it, you move on quietly or fail and repeat the entire grade - secluding the child as a "special needs child," which is not always the case. There is no multi-age variety, so kids are attached to their same-aged peers rather than their family. Now that an education is considered a right and law, kids are not drawn to it as before.
The School Marm was a single woman with educational training ($65/mthx9) or a college degree ($125/mthx9). She had no other obligations, and she treated the children as her own. She kept records of attendance and progress basked on skill level and age. She recorded pages completed as time brackets, not number of pages. Each subject had a daily time schedule, which included a one on one meeting with the teacher for recitation and narration. This is like today's Classical Homeschooling.
Tools included the basics of chalk/board, ink/paper, classic books and a Bible. There was no spelling until the Webster Dictionary was published in 1828, so that was still relatively new to many. Testing was usually done orally, and with evaluation of copy work and dictations. There were no computers and gadgets, just plain old creativity and ingenuity.
Public Speaking and Reading was taught from early on through Storytime/Devotionals with Elocution. Choral reading was group recitation to encourage and correct for success. Multilevel learning helps younger children grow in knowledge as well as confidence. This is shown today in research that encourages families to read to each other.
Physical education was still a priority, not an extra to be dismissed. A full-rounded, classical education was seen as necessary to form a self-sufficient adult. You didn't hear about an epidemic of child obesity prior to the 1980s.
Family's were resourceful and there was no need for subsidized school lunches. Kids brought their pail full, and that's what they ate. No Lunchables, nor artificial colors or flavors!
Discipline I've learned is first and foremost important in creating a successful schooling experience. The old nose to the board in a Dunce cap isn't just a joke. Rather the idea that children are reprimanded by the teacher and later by the parents is most effective. When a teacher would keep a student after class to finish work, to clean up or other as punishment, the natural consequence was in the returning home late to a parent who had been awaiting their help on the family farm. The children learned quickly that their actions not only affected themselves but it had an affect on others. Today, discipline is removed from schools to "protect children" from mental and physical abuse. Children are given leeway and disregard authority, while the Parents and Teachers are slowly loosing authority over their children. If discipline is not taught in the schools where our children are, and parents aren't home or don't care to oversee their moral upbringing - where are they left to learn their behavior than that of their same-aged, adolescent friends?!
Homeschooling in Today's Culture
*Notes after hearing a talk "Homeschool - A Shipyard for Saints NOT Just a Safe Harbor From the World" by Marcel LeJueune.
1. Homeschool in order to prepare children to CHANGE the culture, not to avoid it.
2. Homeschooling Expectations
- God doesn't love us more or less for our skill level. It's just pure love,as we need to focus on.
- We are "stewards, not owners" of our children.
- Contemplate "free will" even that of our children.
- Give them opportunities to be self-sufficient.
- Is my child different, or unique? What was St. Francis, St. John the Baptist, Joan of Arc…
- Is God's idea of a successful day of homeschool that our checklist is done? that there were no blood and tears? or that they were loved and learned love?
3. Jesus' Personal Field Trip in the Temple
-Homeschooled Jesus was confident as he "went missing" and his parents searched for him. His parents view of the world shifted from "decent with some dangers" to a sudden "dangerous world." But in the end he was just fine, because of how he was taught by his parents. In the same way we need to know when it's time to let go and trust we did our job.
4. Think: What if everyone in your family was HOLY? How many lives could be changed!? What would be the impact on our current culture of death and selfishness?
Read more about Marcel LeJeune here: http://www.thecatholicevangelist.com/. You might enjoy books he's written and contributed to including "Set Free to Love; Lives Changed by the Theology of the Body" and "The Church and New Media."