Virtual Voices

Show and tell

Education

Once a week, we participate in a cooperative learning experience known as Classical Conversations. All of the children are expected to give a presentation to their respective classes each week. The older kids are given instruction to share about a moment in history or a family tradition; the younger kids' assignment is basically "show and tell."

Our third daughter turned 7 a few weeks ago. One of her older sisters gave her a Hula-hoop, but she has had trouble figuring it out. Let's just say Hula-hooping may not be her calling in life (though she still has fun trying). Our 5-year-old, however, has perfected the art of Hula-hooping, practices non-stop, and plans to take it Monday for her presentation.

There is value in this. While my older girls are learning to research information, formulate an outline, and speak in front of their peers, my younger girls are sharing what brings them joy in their lives. True learning, of course, involves both. And yet, as a homeschooler, it's so easy to fall into the "check-it-off-and-you've-accomplished-it" trap.

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Why is it more difficult to be intentional about education that brings joy instead of just following obligation? Why do the two seem mutually exclusive so much of the time?

My 5-year-old (as do most 5-year-olds) gets the blending of the two. Granted, not everything she comes up with is reasonable (she just walked up to me with some Chinese money she found and asked us when we were going to China), but more show-and-tell brainstorming could be justified if I would just let go of the check sheet for an afternoon.

If coverage is the enemy of education, checklists are too often its allies.

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