What is the capitol of Texas? What is Pythagorean’s Theorem? How do you long divide? Name the 50 states in alphabetical order? More and likely you are pillaging threw memory in order to come up with these answer or you just went to Google to find it. Whether you remember the facts by reading cue cards or by researching in detail each topic, what is important is that you know the information when you need it. Does the method in which you are taught matter? Does it make a difference if you involve students in learning or not?
These questions have come up in a personal way to many, even to my own household. We chose to take our daughter out on public school in order to homeschool her. Little did we know the challenges of choosing the proper curriculum for her was a daunting task. We both thought that all curriculum would be the same, not so much.
As we explored the many different avenues of picking curriculum we found that there were two basics types. One of the styles focused on critical thinking skills, the other type focused on rote memorization. The choices of curriculum are endless BJU, Sonlight, Abeka, Classical Learning, Unlearning, and much more. It was a relief to find there were only two basic styles.
I have been able to tutor many children over the past few years. While living in England serving in the military, I was able to tutor some third graders. Interesting enough most of these student were not struggling because they didn’t understand. They were not struggling because of the method being used. What I found was that most of them just needed to go over the lesson a couple more times. They were missing the repetition.
On the flip side of that, I was able to meet children that had the addition and subtraction down to a science, but they were struggling with counting money. If I wrote on the table twenty-five plus twenty-five they could tell me emphatically it is fifty. When I asked them to add two quarters together it all the sudden became a struggle. They were clear that a quarter is worth twenty-five cent. For some reason they were not connecting the dots.
The curriculum we have come across really seems to focus on examples of adding, not just the mechanics of doing it. That style seems to at least introduce the child to the thought of application. It might be too early, but the thought of it is there.
We definitely want a good balance of the two when it comes to teaching our children. Book sense and no application knowledge really is a disadvantage to any student. In the same since, too much reason without the basics can leave you in similarly bad situation. One doesn’t seem better than the other, how to balance the two is the real question.