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Author Topic: Overall education- Acceleration vs Depth  (Read 49792 times)
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Tamsyn
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« on: October 29, 2012, 11:50:45 AM »

Two threads inspired this post,
http://forum.brillkids.com/general-discussion-b5/we-can-do-by-moshe-kai/msg91624/?topicseen#new and
http://forum.brillkids.com/homeschooling/which-homeschooling-method-are-you-thinking-of-or-are-currently-using/msg91619/?topicseen#new.

Actually, they inspired a lot more than this post, I've been reading and re-reading a lot of homeschooling books lately, and charting out the next chunk of our education.  Thank you everybody!  You really do inspire me.  smile

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  My husband recently asked me what's next for Peter (our oldest, 5), and it's been so hard to answer that question!  I'm grateful for the Moshe Kai thread that inspired me to get going and focus on Math.  I bought my Saxon textbooks on e-bay, and we're prepared now!  But what about everything else?  I've been reading "A Well Trained Mind" by Wise/Bauer, and I am attracted to the depth such an education would provide.  So, thinking along the acceleration track, my overall plan is to do a grade level's worth of material every semester.  Then I charted out everything she says to do, and I realized that I'd be setting myself up for failure trying to keep on top of all of the busy work in the textbooks, especially with multiple children.  I'm not that organized, and I don't want to give my children that much paper work at a young age.  I don't want burn-out for them or me.

Then I realized that I'm looking to the wrong source for advice on how to do an accelerated education.  So I started googling, and I came across a very interesting family, the Swanns.  Joyce Swann is the mother of 10 children, and they all received their masters degree by the time they were 16.  Her mini-articles on home-school.com (http://www.home-school.com/Articles/accelerated-education-2.php) are very interesting.  She had a strict schedule, doing school from 8:30-11:30 every day of the year unless their dad had the day off.  The children still had plenty of time to play after those hours, but school time was at the table, and was very focused.  Aside from her strict schedule, however, I can't apply her method in my own home because frankly, our family can't afford the route she chose.  Still, I am planning on reading her book, as well as her daughter Alexandra's book "No Regrets".  Joyce had a very linear approach, which she herself summarized as, "elementary school, high school, university, graduate school".  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

However, on the WTM's forum thread on accelerated education (http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/showthread.php?t=29375), classical education advocates bring up a good point, which is that while certain academic studies can be accelerated, it is hard to accelerate the depth subjects of literature and history.  I once heard Susan Wise-Bauer argue against early college by saying that academic education can be accelerated, but there is a certain maturity that only happens when you go around the sun a few times.  She asked, "Have they read the great books?  ALL of them?"  That was my attitude too until I read the Moshe Kai thread.

Many education methodologies share learning phases, but they do not take Early Learning into account.  Here is the rough outline I have come up with:

Phase one, 0-5. The sponge phase. (what Peter has just finished) During this period, children learn to read well, and learn to love to read. They go to the library and read lots of books about lots of different things. They are introduced to math and music, etc, but all according to Doman's advice "Always stop before your child wants to stop". Learning is a big game.

Phase two, K-11. The academic phase.  Here my children learn how to study with "deliberate practice".  This period ends with a basic high school education. Each semester will cover one grade's worth of material. (We may go faster, but not slower). Our children will be awarded with a laptop computer, or other large item such as an instrument upon graduation.

Phase three, 12-18. The Scholar phase. There is a part of me that has been enticed by the benefits of "child-led learning", where a child can study in depth something they are interested in without having to do other academic work. Some argue, "If they study motercycles for 8 hours, there is bound to be math in there somewhere." I say, "Really?" Um, ya, I'm not going to risk it. However, AFTER they have a high school education, they will have more academic maturity.  They will know how and what to study. They will have a broad background in a variety of subjects. My true academic responsibility to my kids will have been fulfilled, and so my only requirement for my kids during this phase will be to be productive. I will require that they do some kind of academic work of their choosing.  We will highly encourage our children to start getting college credit, especially when they are high-school age since it's free.  The boys will be required to get their Eagle scout award, and the girls their YW award, which is the work-equivalent in our Mormon church.  They may choose to practice an instrument, be involved in 4-H, develop a skill such as woodworking or pottery. They may be involved in a lot of musical productions. They may take high school AP classes. They might tutor their siblings. They might start a business. They might become truly well-read. They might be in a variety of different clubs. They might secure an internship or become an apprentice. It's up to them. 

This last phase is still a bit vague because I'm not ready to tackle it yet, but I do know that if they get their basic high school education by 12, it will open a lot of doors for them during their transition to adulthood.  That's what my husband and I really want for our children.  There are so many leadership opportunities during the teenage years, and I would love to open as many doors to them as possible.  I would love for my children to get a college education, but I also recognize that there are a lot of great alternatives if they choose something else during these years.  College will still be waiting for them when they are older, should they wait, and if they have a lot of leadership experience under their belt, the scholarships will be waiting too.

Anyway, that's a lot of rambling, but I wanted to share my thoughts.  I do think that no matter how smart the kids are, as parents we should push our kids for greater learning.  Does accelerating our kids mean that we sacrifice the depth we could otherwise go into any given subject?  Is faster better, or is deeper better?  I would argue that "better" is better.  I'm just trying to figure out what "better" is for our family. 

What does "better" look like to you?

« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 11:57:34 AM by Tamsyn » Logged

nee1
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 03:02:08 PM »

Thanks for the link to the Swann family story. I clicked on Joyce Swann's name on the link you shared and it led me to a host of other articles written by her. Here is the link - http://www.home-school.com/Articles/columnists/joyce-swann.php.  I'll go through them one after the other. Like her, I'm all for structure, structure, and structure. Once we've completed the required work for the day, kid takes the whole day out to play. If structure could help her succeed with 10 kids (she gave birth to 10 kids in 13 years), then I have hope. Thanks again for the link.

You mentioned Joyce's daughter's book ``No Regrets - How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen'' - http://www.amazon.com/Regrets-Homeschooling-Masters-Sixteen-ebook/dp/B003K16NCU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top. And I just found Joyce herself wrote some books, like this one - ``Looking Backward: My Twenty-Five Years as a Homeschooling Mother'' - http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Backward-Twenty-Five-Homeschooling-Mother/dp/1456505904/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351522142&sr=1-4.  I'll check out her book and that of her daughter, and hopefully they'll provide hints to your question of acceleration. Thanks a lot for mentioning her in the first place. She has an interesting parenting philosophy, and I'll love to learn more.


« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 03:25:33 PM by nee1 » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 05:49:51 PM »

Traditional school is so weak that you can accelerate at greater depth quite easily and still drastically outperform traditionally schooled peers at the respective grade levels.

I just ordered both books, thanks for the links!

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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 06:39:23 PM »

Thank you for the feedback.  I agree, PokerDad.  It won't be hard for us to do both, just as long as I don't make my kids do all of the busy-work.  I guess I just need to be on the look-out for what will give us the depth we need, and what is needless paperwork.  (My son hates paperwork, but I'm sure that will improve once he learns how to write, LOL).  I'm guessing that Joyce Swann's Calvert curriculum was very well done, and didn't have a lot of fluff.  I too am just starting to read the Swann's books.  My mom heard Alexandra Swann speak at a homeschooling convention years ago and was very impressed with how she carried herself, and the confidence she displayed.  It was her first time as a keynote speaker.

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Wolfwind
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 07:17:35 PM »

I really hope I can meet you someday, Tamsyn.  We live in the same state, so it shouldn't be impossible, and I LOVE so many of the ideas you share!

I've been thinking of the same thing lately, probably because of reading the same things.  I'll have to look up Swann; that matches my plan to have school 9-12 every day until age 12.  I had thought that after age 12 it would actually be more hours of schoolwork a day, but I definitely see the benefit of child-led education, especially after that age.  I hadn't thought of the one grade level per semester idea, although it's completely reasonable given how much time public schooling wastes.  She did school year round; were you thinking the same?  Would you then put three "semesters" in a year, or just split the year in half to get two semesters?

So let me see how what I had been thinking would line up.

0-5: Learning reading, math focusing on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and reading lots of nonfiction on any topic that interests us.  Mommy getting her act together and actually speaking French with the kids!  (I'm fairly fluent, I'm just lazy and don't speak it.)  Possibly EK flashing, music with LMs and computer-electric keyboard games a la Soft Mozart, right brain games, and anything else I get interested in, but the focus will be on rock-solid reading and math skills, and FUN!

6-12: School in the mornings, unschooling in the afternoons.  The focus will now shift to reading comprehension and writing, using Charlotte Mason narrations of great literature, as well as spelling and grammar drill.  Continuing math; if a 6 year old can start Saxon 5/4, that means that if we did two Saxon books a year we'd be done with Calculus with a year and a half to spare, so even if we don't keep up that speed, we could still get through high school math by age 12.  Geography memorizing maps, history memorizing a timeline, and BFSU for the first three years, then building critical thinking and logic skills by looking at whys and relationships between those subjects (that's inspired by Well-Trained Mind, but moving faster than they think you can).  I would love to study Latin with my kids, but Logic as a formal discipline is more important.  We'll see how much we can fit in.

12-16: My original plan was Well-Trained Mind's Great Books high school curriculum.  But if my kids have grown up with the idea that by age 12 they should have a passion worth following, maybe I'll go with childled learning at that point.  College-level apprenticeships, classes, and work, AP classes, concurrent enrollment, internships, or other "following your dreams."  But it will have to be academic in some way.  I have a set of "Great Books" of the Western tradition with a ten-year reading plan; I might invite each child at this age to join me in reading through them and discussing them, because that's important to me.  It wouldn't quite be a classical education, but at least would keep that as part of their lives.  I would also highly encourage planning to meet college or certification requirements; take science if you have to to graduate even if it's not your passion.  I would not let a kid live away from home at a college before age 16, and maybe not for longer.  But we have a local community college and I expect they could have at least an associate's, if not almost enough credits for a bachelor's, by then.

Between 16 and 18 they will be able to decide what they really want to do with their lives.  At age 18 or 19 they will have the opportunity to serve a mission for our church; I hope they will all choose to, and that they'll have a bachelor's degree or equivalent before then.  A really academically-minded kid might have a master's by then, but not all my kids will want that, I'm sure.

So my idea of "better" is fairly similar to yours, Tamsyn.  These are the key factors of "better" in my mind: less hours spent doing schoolwork than public school requires, more room for following passions as a teenager, a rigorous grounding in the basic areas of education in the elementary school years.  I hope it works out how I'm dreaming it!

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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2012, 07:40:58 PM »

Traditional school is so weak that you can accelerate at greater depth quite easily and still drastically outperform traditionally schooled peers at the respective grade levels.

PokerDad, I agree.

I just found Alexandra Swann (Joyce's daughter) did write some articles here - http://www.home-school.com/Articles/columnists/alexandra-swann.php. Scroll down the page, you'll see her 3 articles. One of them is titled 'I was an accelerated child'.

And some time ago I found this homeschooling family (with 10 kids again!), who so far, have sent 4 of the  kids to college by age 12.  If a mum can successfully homeschool 10 kids, and have such impressive results,  then there is hope for me  LOL .  Here is the link to the family website: http://www.collegeby12.com. By the left hand side of that homepage, you'll see a CNN interview with 2 of of the kids. Here is the youtube link to that interview:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/KgKC3WY51LA&rel=1" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/KgKC3WY51LA&rel=1</a>

« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 07:58:46 PM by nee1 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2012, 08:25:55 PM »

I've now read a couple of Swann's articles and they're very interesting.  I've got her book on hold at the library now too. 

One thing she loves is the prepared curriculum.  With 10 kids in 13 years, I think I'd agree.  But I still want to do my own curricula.  I think I can do a better job than any prepackaged thing.  Plus I love doing it!  We'll see if I still feel the same way when we start elementary school!  My time might be more valuable than the cost of a curriculum.

The distance-learning college education is something I'd never considered.  Her breakdown of the cost makes it very tempting, though, and I like that it supports my "not letting kids under 16, preferably 18, live away from home" idea.  I still think attending a college at some point would be beneficial, mostly because college was the one part of my education I absolutely loved.  But if I did distance-learning undergrad ages 12-16, then my kids could go to a college for their grad degrees at about the same age as other kids were going for their undergrad; hopefully that would get them the same cool experience I loved.  And, of course, save time and money.

Thanks so much for the links, everyone!  She is a great source.

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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2012, 10:20:10 PM »

This is something I have been thinking about recently. My family are very worried that my daughter will be bored in school and feel I am doing her a disservice with all this early learning. My husband has also been posing the question 'where will it end?' I have had it in the back of my mind that maybe we would be looking at distance learning degrees in the teenage years so it is really interesting to read about a family who have done this. Thank you for the links.

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« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2012, 11:06:39 PM »

I have been thinking about this too!

I did the math somewhere about the hours each child spends in school. It is meant to be 1080 hours a year. But realistically only several hours if that is spent on quality learning. There is so much group fluff, recess, eating, shuffling from class to class etc that it isn't surprising how little content kids have.
Not to mention vacation and holiday regression where several months of the year many children learn very little.
So I am going to hazard a guess that kids actually spend 500-600 hours a yer actually learning. Maybe if is more like 300.

I figure if James spent 2 hours a day all year round he would have 730 hours of dedicated learning under his belt. Now if he were to do more like 4 hours 5 times a week he would be looking at over 1000 hours. Which I think would be the equivalent of 2 public school grades.
So 2 grades a semester is quite doable. And that is without taking into account that our kids already have a lead with reading, math and general knowledge.

Now as to content breadth, and depth vs acceleration I think it depends on the subject. I think science and math can be accelerated. But humanities I want to focus at more content rather than just scratching the surface of a lot of things, or delving into a few things. I plan to spend a lot of time with James on his writing. Lots and lots of practice. We will take his time reading, so he can read those great books.

I only plan to use grade levels as a convenience for registering homeschooling and so James has an answer when people ask him. However in reality he might be 9th grade in math and 4th grade in history.



Oh and I should note: we do plan to use a modified classical approach. But we won't be held down by the strict ages. Grammar age isn't usually started until 4-5. But we are in grammar stage at 2. I am not sure when James will go onto the logic stage but it will certainly be much earlier than 12. Maybe more like 6.
So I think 3-6 years grammar and 6-9 logic 1, 6-9 logic 2. We will revisit each subject 3 times, building upon prior knowledge. I know there is a rhetoric stage, but I have a hard time imagining any child under 12 year old reaching this stage unless they are a prodigy. I am just not sure the maturity and expressions is there. Please feel free to prove me wrong. smile
On the other hand. I don't think many  US highschoolers and lower college students even reach a rhetoric stage.



« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 11:22:19 PM by Korrale4kq » Logged



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« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2012, 11:18:43 PM »

I have also been wondering how much acceleration is possible / advisable with after schooling. I don't think I will be in a position to home school so I am now attempting to make a plan for after schooling. Do you feel acceleration is appropriate in this case?

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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2012, 12:49:49 AM »

Seastar,

It really doesn't take that long to provide a basic education to a child. Enough to enter college anyway. Really. I have a book called Accelerated Distance Education. It is becoming the norm in home school circles for children to receive part of their high school credits as college credits. And many public school are doing the. My son, without trying, will graduate HS with about 60 college credits. He could have done more. But he has chosen to spend his time doing other things.

If you spent 2 focused hours a day or one and a half hours a day and then a few on the weekends, and used your vacation/summer breaks wisely, you can easily accelerate your child several years if nto more. Early learning itself is going to put your child several years ahead of his peers. You will develop the problem of boredom at school. But you can, with a bit of frustration attached, have the school your child is attending accelerate as well. But we have found that to be a bit of a pain.

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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2012, 02:41:42 AM »

Wow!  Thank you so much for the Harding family links.  This is so inspiring to me because frankly I want a big family too.  smile  Sometimes I get a little discouraged when I see some of the amazing things that some of you with one or two kids are doing, thinking that it would be to hard with my 4, but the truth is, that's a lame excuse.  Frankly, much of what my 2-year-old knows, he learned from his older brother and not me. yes

No excuses, it can be done with a large family.  That's so encouraging to me right now.

You are all amazing, btw.

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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2012, 04:46:29 AM »

Wow!  Thank you so much for the Harding family links.  This is so inspiring to me because frankly I want a big family too.  smile  Sometimes I get a little discouraged when I see some of the amazing things that some of you with one or two kids are doing, thinking that it would be to hard with my 4, but the truth is, that's a lame excuse.  Frankly, much of what my 2-year-old knows, he learned from his older brother and not me. yes

No excuses, it can be done with a large family.  That's so encouraging to me right now.

You are all amazing, btw.

Right!  I  have felt the same way sometimes with 3 babies in four years!)  Honestly though my kids are so close and bonded that I wouldn't do it any other way. They help each other.  Cheer each other on and are the best of friends.  Siblings are definitely the best teachers to each other (not always a good thing...LOL).  It is definitely encouraging to see the Harding family's success.  I want their book, but wow!  20 bucks???? yikes.   I guess they need to pay for all those master's degrees. 

If anyone reads the book,  please tell me if its worth reading.   Sometimes you buy those books and you find out that you already knew the answer to how they did it. 

I read this article http://www.examiner.com/article/if-a-child-starts-college-by-the-age-of-12-does-that-make-him-a-genius, it pretty much said they just took the SAT or ACT around 10 or 11 years of age.   The children performed average on the tests.   I am assuming they started in community college and transferred to a university.   Very few universities will accept students that young unless they are transferring from a community college or performed exceptionally well on a standardized test.   

From the article, I thought maybe from what they were saying that the parents combined science, reading, writing and history together??   Maybe their assigned reading was history and/or science literature on which they completed writing assignments in relations to that assigned literature.  ????

I have often wondered how do the kids know with certainty what they want to be, but I guess at that age you do have some inclination what you want to be.  I unfortunately had those "dream crushing parents."   Maybe the Hardings were more attentive to their children's dreams and cultivated them early so the children knew with certainty what they wanted to be.   Honestly picking a career at that age is probably the best age.  I remember that age.  It was the age of big dreams.   Nothing was impossible (until a dream crusher came along...ugh). 

I have plans for year round schooling six days a week (I find we lose traction if we take a two day weekend break).  I was going to break up the year into four semesters with a one week break in each semester.  I don't think that is a large enough break to make a difference, but maybe I am wrong?   Two semesters for each grade level of math, reading and writing.   I think that I am going to go through the BFSU curriculum for science still, but I don't know if it will be at an accelerated rate.   I don't think it is necessary to accelerate it for early college.   If you third grader is reading at an ninth grade level, they should be able to handle intro college level text books.   Maybe that is another key to acceleration???   For history, I don't think that depth is necessary unless the child has a passion for it.   I think date memorizing is the general goal of history at this stage of learning.   Of course context will be important but not depth at this point.  History in college wasn't that in depth either unless you chose it for your major.   

The greatest question is early college the right choice???   If you child knows what they want, then I say yes!   My goal will be to know my child in order to guide them to their career.  I wish I had a parent that took the time to know me because I probably wouldn't have wasted my time on a degree I have no passion for.   I would have went for my dreams.   Maybe an accelerated education fuels the passionate fire of a young person where a standard in depth education bores and dampens the passion of young people.  ????   

Love love love hearing everyone's thoughts.   

What do you think are the keys to accelerating education at k-12 level?


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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2012, 05:24:43 AM »

For some degrees, acceleration is definitely not the best choice.  I was remarkably average as a high schooler, and while I could have done AP classes, I instead chose to focus on my music, and that was the best choice for me.  (I was homeschooled, but went to band and choir at the high school).  There is no way to rush through a vocal performance degree, although it would have been nice to have had my generals out of the way.  I did have one friend who did it in 3, and it was considered remarkable.  She had a few 22-credit semesters to do the 3-year program.  Many take 5 years to do it. There is a specific sequence of classes that you can't do through correspondence courses, and most of the classes are 1 or 2 credits.  Likewise, there is a certain level of physical maturity required for singing that I would not have been ready for at 16, no matter how smart I might have been (and I wasn't).  I realize that Vocal Performance is a rare exception, but there it stands as an example.  I couldn't have done that program when I was 12, period.  But I did have a lot of enriching experiences in music throughout my teen years, and they did help me get scholarships later.

I can relate to a lot of what cokers4life says.  I think getting the generals and depth courses out of the way would be a great route for all academically ready youth, if possible, but I don't think full-out college is the right choice for everybody.  Regardless, finishing high school at 12 will open many doors for our youth, no matter which path they pursue.  I love the idea of them doing college, but I'm not going to push that path on them if they are not ready.

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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2012, 05:47:59 AM »

To be honest, i know very few people who actually work in a field that matches their major. Many college degrees are so broad. I believe it was the oldest Swann child, Alexander that Got her bachelor in Liberal studies. I and remember what her masters was, but at &18 she went on to teach history at a community college and now is an editor.
So I have no qualms about a child of 12 or 16 not knowing that they want to do. Just as long as they do something.

Something else I was reading was that if you take college classes while under the age or 18 (or maybe it was while  still in highschool?) the state will pay for it like any public education. So that is a nice option.
Or of the Swann sons actually worked and did his bachelors via correspondence, all while living at home as a young teen. By the time he was able to go on and do his masters he had earned enough to pay for it.

Also if a child does decide to change their mind and go into a different field at say, 18 or even 22, they will often have enough transfer credits that they could easily get a degree in a fraction of the time.

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