Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So Much to Say, Where to Start?

I have so much I want to say on this book, and yes I did finish reading it today. But it's 9:30 PM and I have to get up at 4:45 AM, so I thought I'd limit my writing to answering Andrea's questions. That should give me a basis for my essay later anyhow.

1. How well do you feel you were taught “how to think?”

This is a silly question to me. I always knew "how to think." I didn't always want to go through the work to actually put what I knew into practice though. It's called laziness. And yes, I think it's very easy to get by with straight A's in the public schools while still being completely lazy. I know, I did it. But I don't ever remember not being able know how to work or think through a problem or issue if I wanted too. Did I learn it from school? Maybe some. Did I learn it from books? Probably, in part. The largest part was from my parents. Also I think my interest in art helped because I had to find creative ways to do things like burn crayons over candles to make what I wanted.

2. Have you written a personal and/or family mission statement/paper/motto—whatever? Are you planning on doing that? If so, what kinds of things are you thinking about including? I know the Eyres had something about learning themselves and then going forth to serve.

No and probably never will. However, I did like the quote "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" well enough to hang on my wall in the living room, and in an abstract way without ever putting it into words (before now) I kind of considered it a personal motto.

3. Is there a leadership crisis today?

No. Prime example: Condoleezza Rice

4. DeMille lists public education as 75% social and 25% skills. Agree/disagree? And the ever popular: So What? If it is 75% social, what impact does that have on our children and society?

As an outcast, nerdy child for at least half of my public school years, I disagree to that. I think it depends on the child and their personality. So if it is 75% social, I don't really care if the other 25% is a worthwhile education.

5. People constantly point out the need to “socialize” our children. What does that mean? What are we socializing them for? What behaviors do we want to encourage? What social skills do they need for a normal life in our society? Is school the best place to get those skills?

I have personally never of heard of socializing a child before. Humans by nature are social animals. Biology, history, etc all prove that. Social skills I would want my children to have would include being able to express themselves clearly and hold a conversation with almost anyone of any age, being respectful of others and being able to work effectively in a group (just for the record, I don't discount the advantages of being able to convince that group to do what you want). I think parenting (as in teaching values and respect) have far more impact on a child being able to function in a social situation than simply being in a social situation ever will. But again, I think the personality of individual children and people will always play a major role in their social abilities and tendencies--extroverts vs. introverts.

6. Can you legitimately criticize homeschools for not socializing?

No. Like I said above, parents can effectively teach social skills.

7. What is your plan to socialize your child/children (in and out of school)?

Athletics and church activities and good friends and conversation.

8. What is the advantage of socializing across ages and how do you do that?

I think the advantages are huge. As soon as you are in the workplace, you meet people of all ages and need to be able to sound intelligent to them. Expose your children to being around adults.

9. “Leadership curriculum is individualized.” Do you have any examples in your own schooling of a teacher doing a good job individualizing the curriculum? Was that helpful?

No, I can't recall any examples of an individualized curriculum that was helpful. I was in an accelerated math class once that was based on the theory of working at your own pace, correcting your own papers, asking the teacher for individual help when needed. It was a joke, I goofed off all the time. The most helpful example I can think of is twice teachers recommended good books to me.

10. According to DeMille, depth and breadth are both vital in education. I feel that I missed the depth part until I got my masters—and now, I feel like I should, as a person with a master’s degree in history, know more about history than the underlying premise of masculinity during WWII. Talk about no breadth! Do you feel the same way?

I do think breadth is important. However, depth perhaps not as important for the general studies of a kid in public schools. (For instance, I had a humanities teacher that made us memorize the heighth, width, etc of the Parthenon. Who cares? It was a complete waste of time.) Personally, I'd rather see a curriculum taught that showed how different subjects are interrelated and connected--I think that leads to better understanding of consequences and possibities.

11. DeMille wrote: “The conveyer belt education system has made us more highly trained as a generation, but less educated.” Do you agree?

That depends entirely on your definition of an education. I'll explain more thoroughly in my essay my thoughts on that.

12. What is on your classics list? What do you think it is imperative that your child read?

Imperative? I don't know that I have any books I would consider imperative. However, I would like my children to be able to read and enjoy "classical" books and not just the latest Danielle Steel. As for my own classics list: Catch-22, Jane Austen's, Bronte's, War and Peace, Lord of the Flies, HMS Ullysses, The Time it Never Rained, Tom Jones, The Lord of the Rings, Edith Wharton's, The Perilous Gard, To Kill a Mockingbird, King of the Wind, The Scarlet Pimpernel, A Seperate Peace, Dracula, My Antonia, The Prisoner of Zenda, Mrs. Mike, The Dark is Rising Series, The Attolia Series, Ender's Game, Who Has Seen the Wind, and The Great Gatsby.

13. Do you aspire to having “wise” children, or are you okay with children who are happily settled into good careers? Is there a difference? Is the question leading and biased?

I hope to have children that are happy. I think it takes wisdom and good career to manage that. And the question is definitely leading and biased.

14. DeMille claims that we learn about human nature through the classics. Do you agree? Have an example? Is learning about human nature important?

Yes and yes. But I don't think that's the sole way to learn human nature.

15. DeMille wrote: “Learning is difficult but the process is not complex.” Agree?


16. DeMille wrote that one goal for an educated person is the ability to define a problem. He maintains that almost anyone can solve a problem once it is clearly defined, but it is difficult to get to the heart of a problem. Agree/disagree? Do you think leadership training in a DeMille style program the most effective way to produce such a thinker?

I don't necessarily agree. I think often a problem is more complex than would allow for a clear answer and the difficulty often lies in finding the solution that will solve most of the problem's quandaries with the least ill repercussions. Yes, I think his method would be effective, but not the only way.

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