Sunday, March 16, 2008

Learning: Real World Style

In one of my posts last week, I linked to an article discussing socialization among homeschoolers.

The last paragraph has to be my favorite, & the most poignant part of the article.

The author describes a visit to an art museum. Her children had the opportunity to speak with an artist bringing his work to the museum to be evaluated by the curator. They got to spend time discussing the techniques he used to create his work, how he felt nervous about showing his work to the curator. The artist asked the opinions of the author's children in regards to his artwork. They had a meaningful conversation about art with someone who was the genuine article.

All too often, schools try to capture the "real world" via field trips. But I recall too many such field trips when I taught 1st Grade. You must stay in a line. You must complete this worksheet to prove you learned something & paid attention. You must stop looking at the giraffes because it's our scheduled time to see the elephant. You must eat lunch later, even if you're starving, because it's not lunch time yet. You must keep up with the group even if your feet are tired. And it goes on and on.

Some of my greatest joys in our homeschool journey have been waking up one morning, deciding we'd like to go to the zoo or children's museum or movie theater because we feel like it today.

And then stopping, and listening and learning, once we arrive.

I remember one visit to the Dallas Zoo in particular. We were at the penguin exhibit & a zoo keeper walked into the enclosure with a few leashes. I figured they were going to take the penguins out somewhere, & I thought if we hung out a few minutes we might get to see the penguins walk by. Sure enough, after about three minutes, the zoo keeper brought two penguins on leashes & harnesses out for a walk (?). I don't know where they were going, but Reese got an up-close look at the penguins. All because I noticed something, and I adjusted my day to accommodate what had come our way. If I were in charge of 20 six year olds, with a schedule to follow, there's no way I could have done the same thing.

This picture is from my eye doctor appointment last week. Reese wanted to go with me to "protect me." I figured he'd like to see how an eye exam is performed & check out the different tools used.

MUCH to my surprise, the eye doctor gave Reese a full lesson about how your eye works!

You will see the doctor & Reese looking at a computer screen...those are the insides of my eyeballs. The yellow circle in the middle(ish) of each picture is my optic nerve. Doc pulled down a 3D model of an eye, and told Reese all about how the optic nerve works & where it's located in your eyeball.

He let Reese use the pinpoint flashlight.

He put the machine up to my eyes (the one where they shine a purple light into your eye & all sorts of other eyeball assessing things) and let Reese get in front of the machine (where the Doc sits) and look into my eyes.

He even let Reese read the letter chart on the wall.

I think Reese learned more about eyes in the 20 minutes we were at the eye doctor than he had ever before. And it was all because we had the time, & the opportunity was there so we took advantage of it. He had real world meaning now. Isn't that the essence of homeschooling?


HRH said...

I read this the day you posted it and I guess I forgot to comment...weird. I think that doctor is super cool. What a great day for Reese.

I tagged you this morning if you want to play along.

mommy2nicholas said...

What an awesome doctor and such a great experience for Reese!