Monday, May 26, 2008

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.

The other day we were talking about home school vs. public school during some down time in the lab. It got me thinking, if I were ever to home school my kids, what would I teach them? The result is Katie's own personal [idealized] curriculum:

I would teach them to read by the time they could speak in complete sentences. They'd be on college reading levels by the time most kids were on a 6th grade level. Required reading: The Great Gatsby, The Chosen, Jane Eyre, The Book of Mormon (haha, no separation of church and state with home schooling!), The Giver (while they were still on a lower reading level), Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird. They'd have to write a paper every month on the topic of their choice, but the genre of my choosing. One month we'd do research papers, the next essays, the next short stories, the next poetry, until I ran out of ideas and then we'd start over again.
Science would be super fun. They wouldn't learn the "electrons orbit the atoms like planets orbit the sun!!" false doctrine, they'd learn about energy levels and quantum mechanics and wave-particle duality. I guess I'd have to go through all the basics with stuff like, "what is matter?" and memorizing the planets and all that stuff, but honestly, if people are just going to change what's a planet anyway, what's the point of learning the solar system song? I think time would be better spent learning Newtonian mechanics and other basics of physics and more basic chemistry and biology things. None of that geology "this is a [insert type of rock that i can't remember anymore since it's useless information] rock!" or the whole "chemical change vs. physical change!!" We'd learn how to balance chemical equations and do stoichiometry and if we felt really ambitious maybe we'd tackle equilibrium problems and thermodynamics. Of course, in order to do thermodynamics properly, we'd need to learn some calculus...which brings me to my next subject: math!
Basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division would be mandatory of course. Fractions, decimals, geometry, trigonometry, etc. would have to follow. Extensive algebra would be taught as well as calculus before age twelve. That's right, my kids would be taking derivatives and integrating things before your kids know how to solve for x in 2x+3=5.
For social studies, not only would we cover basic American and world history, we'd actually get caught up to current events! In school, I swear I never once learned about anything post WWII. I'm still not really sure what the Vietnam or Korean Wars were about...also, they'd have to memorize the preamble just because it's so fun to sing the School House Rock song.
As for art and music, we'd take frequent field trips to art museums to learn in a real-life setting. We'd learn about daVinci, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, etc etc. For music, we would not only discuss Bach, Mozart, Chopin, etc etc but the Beatles, Billy Joel, Boston, Aerosmith, etc etc would be required listening. Plus they'd have to take piano. It's a tradition.
As for electives, they'd definitely have to learn about computers, and also learn how to type 90+ words a minute. Ballroom dance would be highly encouraged (hehe, but not forced, I promise), but they could pick any activity that they were interested in and I would pay for all lessons, costumes, competitions, gear, etc that their activities entailed.

Whew, it was kinda exhausting trying to come up with all of that, and I know that I left a ton of stuff out. I don't know how parents can actually home school their would take so much time...but you know, I really like the idea of having complete control over my children's education, which makes me sound like I'd be one of those control-freak anal parents, but it's true, it would be nice to pick and choose what they'd learn. Eh, anyway, there's something to think about.


Michael Jones said...

Whoa, so I didn't learn half of this stuff during my home schooling years. I really wish I had, though, so I had more to show for the first 18 years of my life. Good for you for thinking ahead.

I think home schooling in general is ok. I don't think it's bad while at the same time I don't want to home school my kids. I think it's kind of interesting that even though my K-12 curriculum was kind of a joke, I still have comparable if not superior collection of memorized facts and cognition to my public schooled peers. And I spent a lot less time studying, in class or doing homework. Really, a lot less.

On the negative side, I think it's true home schooling or the lack of social exposure inherent in home schooling inhibits emotional development. It's been true for me but it's also over-emphasized by home school critics. Bottom line is that if people are taught correct principles like personal responsibility, initiative, and how to see failure as a good thing it doesn't matter how they receive an education because they'll keep learning their entire lives. Kind of the EQ vs. IQ thing if you know what I'm referring to.

Anyway, Katie, you sound so scholarly. I've never met a girl who got as stoked on learning as you do. I'd like to see where you and your family are in ten years cause I think that future looks pretty. :-)

Katya said...

haha thanks Mike! I didn't know you were homeschooled, that's pretty cool. I don't think I will actually homeschool my future children unless I live in really crappy neighborhoods where the public schools are sketchy. I'm kind of weird like that though, sometimes I think it'd be cool to work for the College Board and write AP tests or be a principal of a private school or something...