Daily Archives: April 14, 2010

Teach Less But Delve Deeper

Now that the end of the school year is approaching and I see that there is no way for us to cover the remaining six chapters of our biology textbook as it took us three-fourths of the year to cover the first nine, I am struggling with deciding which topics should take priority. Do I teach them about ecosystems, the water cycle and the greenhouse effect, or do we talk about fish and dissect frogs? Do I skip the plants and talk about reptiles, or do I talk about birds and skip the mammals? How do I decide which is more important?

This a recurring problem. Rarely am I able to cover all the material in the textbook. There is so much information to cover and so little time to cover it. But is completing the textbook so important? My type-A personality is screaming, “Yes! It is in the textbook and therefore it must be taught. Besides, if it wasn’t important to memorize the lifecycle of a mushroom, the author wouldn’t have put it in there, would he?” But the truth is, completing the textbook, atleast in science, is not that important. Everything you want to know about a subject ( and some things you don’t) are readily available on the internet or at the nearest college library. Maybe it’s time to change the way I view the role of science in school.

The purpose of studying science is not to pump as much information into a student’s mind as possible and then hope that he retains it when it’s time for the next achievement test. The purpose of the study of science is to increase our understanding of and appreciation for the nature of God and His creation. A student’s appreciation for the beauty and order found in God’s creation doesn’t come from memorizing volumes of information. This type of understanding is superficial at best. An appreciation for God’s creation is better cultivated by taking fewer topics, and teaching the students how to delve more deeply into them. Then learning science is no longer just a transmission of information from teacher to student. It becomes an opportunity for discovery, observation, experimentation, articulation–all the skills we desire our science students to acquire.

So, now the question is no longer, “How can I get it all in before the end of May?” Instead, I’m going to choose a topic that will grab my students’ interests and show them how clever God was when he made this earth. Now the question is, “Amphibians, anyone?”

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Walking Down the Hallway

School’s out for the day.  I’ve taken a deep breath and am looking for a change of clothes.  As I walk down the hallway of our “not perfect but forgiven” school, I hear notes floating in the air sent from one of our three pianos.  The pianist is in grammar school but practices enough that the song is most pleasurable.  I peek into the open rooms.  One room holds a mother-teacher reviewing a math lesson with her daughter.  A young boy clad in khakis and plaid tie walks down the hallway with a backpack being carried home.  Someone has some extra studying tonight!  The last room I pass is our library.  Books line the wall and a table is placed in the center of the room.  Around the table sit several of our students.  There is a tenth grader looking good in his blazer and white button-up visiting with a fourth grade girl and sixth grade boy, who isn’t yet required to wear a blazer.  No one made him converse with these fellow students.  Two seventh grade girls have their noses stuck in a tome, and a second grader quietly wanders around trying to decide which book would best fit his reading appetite.  From this room I hear notes of love and harmony floating in the air, and that sounds better than any notes a piano could make!  Our school smells of Jesus.

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Free Ebook, An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents

Download An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents here as a free ebook!

This booklet from Classical Academic Press (45 pages) is an ideal and significant introduction to classical education. It traces the history of classical education and describes its modern renaissance. The book also highlights the distinctive elements of the movement including its emphasis on teaching grammar, logic and rhetoric (the Trivium), and the extraordinary achievements of students who are receiving a classical education. It explains the benefit of classical language study (Latin and Greek) and integrated learning through a study of the great books of western civilization. The booklet is written in a colloquial and informative style, with anecdotes, diagrams and charts. This book is recommended to parents just beginning their examination of classical education.

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