Some teaching methods are timeless ...
Whether you’ve been homeschooling for over a decade (like me and my seven sons) or you’re a COVID-19 newbie, you probably had your fill of screen time just about nine months ago. I know I’ve “logged on” and “toggled down” and “zoomed” through enough remote lessons to last me several pandemics.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the way online learning has supplemented our traditional approach to educating at home. Our devoted history, philosophy and science teachers make my life so much easier every single day. So do websites like this one that pretty much handle all my math instruction, grading, testing, and record-keeping.
However, I’ve got two gripes: I’m sick and tired of staring at screens. And I’m sick and tired of staring at my kids staring at screens.
It was for these reasons that we pulled the plug (literally) on virtual learning about 10 days ago. We were too early in the year for a spring break and our days still needed the structure daily lessons bring to the home. So we decided to get back to the basics by focusing on three things: the true, the good and the beautiful. These pillars of a Christian education — often referred to as the transcendentals — have their basis in Greek philosophy and are worth pondering and practicing.
For us it’s meant allowing our school days to be dictated by three simple questions:
Is the activity at hand — whether it be reading a book, playing a board game, listening to music, stomping in the snow, building a fire, or writing a screenplay — Is it true? Is it good? Is it beautiful? If the answer is ‘yes,’ to any one of these questions, we do it!
That’s not to say that lessons taught on the internet cannot be true, good or beautiful. Quite the contrary; we simply needed a break from the medium. Sure, we had to seek out permission from our various cyberschools (“We’ll be turning in assignments a week or two late … Pretty please? Thank you very much!”).
But it’s been totally worth it. A fresh batch of watercolor paintings fill my walls. We’ve written poetry, discussed classical literature, and stomped through the snowy woods on daily nature hikes. One of my sons even mastered his times tables on our rusty old chalkboard. We’ll get back to online lessons in a few days, but this break is giving us just what we need to finish the year strong.