Tag Archives: teach

Creative Homeschool High School Course Ideas

In high school, my kids have written novels, written and produced films about Korean history, studied the Japanese and Korean languages, examined the ethics of sampling in hip-hop music, written and designed web comics, and produced graphic novels. You will probably find similarly unusual courses in most homeschool high schools.

Encouraging your student to dive into the things which most interest him, to explore his strengths, is one of the beauty parts of homeschooling. One of the very best things about home educating the high school years is that  you and your teen have the freedom to pursue those interests which make his or her life meaningful.

As a home educating parent, one of the most important things to learn about homeschooling at the high school level is to teach your strengths and to delegate your weaknesses. It’s essential to be realistic about your weaknesses. Don’t beat your head against a wall or end up torturing both yourself and child with a frustrated attempt to handle something you aren’t really suited for. If you aren’t particularly strong, or even if you’re not especially interested in math, it’s a good idea to find someone else to tutor, or to find a text or DVD series.

It’s even more important to consider each student’s strengths and learning styles as well as her deficits. Be quick to recognize when something just doesn’t work for your kid. Each person is unique;  this student may not be able to work with this resource even though it may have been perfect for your other kids or her friends.

My strengths happen to fall on the arts/humanities/cultural studies side, and so do my husband’s.  We are both art school alums and he is a writer and musician. Art, music, writing, and cultural focus is in the kids’ genes. From their cradles we tried to warn them away from the arts but they were moths to the low-wage flame.

When you homeschool, your lifestyle is in large part informed by your homeschooling. We created a home and lifestyle, consciously and unconsciously, which taught the importance of understanding our culture, its influences, where it came from, and where it could go.

This has a downside. What were our seriously heated “discussions” over?  The Mycenaeans or the Trojans? Javert or Valjean? Is 2001:A Space Odyssey really meaningful or just a bore-fest? What did Bruce Willis’ Dunn in Unbreakable do after the end…remain a superhero or give it up? My kids wanted to die on these hills.

Admittedly, the ideas I offer here are rather humanities-oriented. If you have some ideas for creative ways to learn and present the maths, technologies and sciences, I am all ears.

So here are some ideas, along with our experiences with some of them.

Art History: My freshman daughter earned a credit on her transcript this year in this survey course. We happen to have about half a million art books so it wasn’t a stretch to find material.  But you can find lots of “coffee table books” at the library. Don’t only look at the pictures. Read the books too; you want your student to understand the history of the work, and its cultural and social context, as well as how it and its creator influenced the course of art. The painting is in the book because it did just that.

I recommend any art history book by anyone named Janson, especially History of Art for Young People by H.W Janson and Anthony F. Janson.  It’s pricey new but definitely worth it. It makes art history easily comprehensible.

There’s also a little thing called the internet. One caution. Looking at works of art on a little screen or in a book is an entirely different experience than seeing the work of art for real.

Granted, we have to settle for a picture of the Mona Lisa if we’re not traveling to Paris this year. But be aware that your experience with the works are fundamentally different than standing in front of the real thing in a cool room in a museum with marble floors, battling crowds to see or hearing the echo of your footsteps in a huge empty gallery. The real thing never looks the same close up and in person. Take note of the size of the work and take a few seconds to imagine how that really looks. It may have been created to be installed in a particular place–try to find a picture of it in its original setting.

This course will consist of getting familiar with the most important works and getting the gist of chronological art history, and trying to gain understanding of the context of the works in the times they were created. Tests can be given but don’t let the class degrade into identification quizzes only. I did not give tests or ask for memorization but I can see doing that. I wanted her to grok art history. I believe she did.

The final project was a formal analysis of a work. She had to see it in person and write a formal description according to specific guidelines.

Honors Art History/ Art History 2: Next year art history will be more intense. I will require at least 4 visits to at least two museums, 2 formal analyses, 2 comparison papers, tests on ID-ing works and genres  and essay questions on socio-cultural significance and history of works, an artist bio paper OR technical history paper, and a good bit of reading in art criticism/history sources.

Youtube Course: Young people are immersed in interactive media; they don’t see that involvement as an option but reality. As a result, your young people may already have a Youtube channel.  However, much of this is rather passive and one-event oriented.

But maybe it can be more. Combine reviews with interviews. Write scripts well. Interact with viewers.  Review real events: reviews must be goal-oriented, meet criteria, be substantive (not “we filmed ourselves being at this event”). Interview appropriate people at events and write your essay about what was said, then post in on your channel. These are ideas from an old person; your student will have better ones.

Graphic Novel: If your students are art AND writing oriented, they can write a story, then design and draw the graphic novel. Your student will exercise writing, drawing, and graphic design skills.

Write a novel: Two of my sons each wrote a novel as a senior course. They were pretty self-motivated and disciplined about it (because they love writing), but you may want to require some sort of writing schedule: write every weekday for one hour/ write at least a chapter per week to be turned in and critiqued/ etc.. If you feel unqualified, find someone who can give your student real feedback. This is very important. He will need to discuss writing ideas and goals, and get knowledgeable feedback from other experienced writers.

NaNoWriMo can be helpful for getting started and for staying motivated. Even if you fail to write a novel in a month, you can get a good start. Or November may be too late in the school year to begin writing a novel.

Courses That Just Happen: Look around and notice when your child is doing “extra-curricular” things because she has an interest in them.  You may be able to gather a few things together and consider it as a course. Example: my daughter sings, and plays guitar and uke. She was taking piano lessons, playing with our church’s youth ministry worship team, and starting to play gigs at local coffee houses and open mikes. That same year she was asked to lead the music component of the worship time at an inner-city VBS which one of our fellow church family was helping to run.

It dawned on me about mid-May that my daughter had actually put many, many hours, and a lot of passion, into a Music/ Music Ministry course. It only took me to recognize as a course what she was already self-motivated to do. Credit on the transcript!

Lesson: if your kid has interests, there is probably a way to add some academic substance to the hours of self-motivated involvement, and call it a course.

I will probably revisit this topic.  If you have ideas, please share them with everyone!

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Living Titus 2

 

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. NIV

3 Likewise, tell the older women to behave the way people leading a holy life should. They shouldn’t be slanderers or slaves to excessive drinking. They should teach what is good,  4 thus training the younger women to love their husbands and children,  5 to be self-controlled and pure, to take good care of their homes and submit to their husbands. In this way, God’s message will not be brought into disgrace.  CJB

What does it mean? How do we obey it in real life?

We have talked about the need to pass the torch, to mentor and to be mentored. We have all agreed that we ought to support, encourage, and teach each other.  We should give out of the riches we have been given. But we have not so far discussed what we are supposed to teach, the real subject of this passage –the reason it’s in the Bible

Elisabeth Elliot on Titus 2:3-5:

“It would help younger women to know there are a few listening ears when they don’t know what to do with an uncommunicative husband, a 25-pound turkey, or a two-year-old’s tantrum.

It is doubtful that the Apostle Paul had in mind Bible classes or seminars or books when he spoke of teaching younger women. He meant the simple things, the everyday example, the willingness to take time from one’s own concerns to pray with the anxious mother, to walk with her the way of the cross—with its tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness—and to show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart.

You don’t have to be a mother or a mother-in-law to apply Titus 2:3-5. Just take a look around and you will find many motherless women in need of that listening ear and practical advice. Give them a call. Offer to babysit or make a meal. Be their friend. “Show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart” so that she “may glimpse the mystery of charity and the glory of womanhood.”

(Elisabeth Elliot, “A Woman’s Mandate,” from Family Practice, ed. R.C. Sproul, Jr. (Phillipsbur, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2001), p 62.

I agree. It is so important that we love our sisters in Christ by serving them and working for their practical good.  And mentoring relationships often begin in small acts of service.

But I would like to add that we are also called to teach intellectual substance in an intentional, yet organic manner. In the same way that we are all called to share the truth of the gospel, we should be equipping ourselves and then looking for opportunities to open up so that we can walk in and teach.

     I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

     The reason for the hope I have as a believer is also the reason why I do what I do, and for why I live my life the way I do.  Our lives ought to demonstrate what we truly believe, and in fact they do.

There are foundations to be laid, premises to establish.  There are also strongholds to be torn down.  The world all around us is relentlessly tearing apart the family, and you, Mom. Minimizing you, calling you a myth, demoralizing you.

So let’s follow the instructions we know we can trust. First of all, the instructions for the older women:

to be reverent in the way they live

not to be slanderers

or addicted to much wine

but to teach what is good

It doesn’t seem too difficult—I shouldn’t be a malicious gossip or an alcoholic—easy!

Wait. “To be reverent and to teach what is good” sets the bar pretty high. These require a singular state of mind where a woman is focused on the Lord and His call on her, day-to-day in real time. These older women had to have accomplished that which they were to teach.  They had been living their faith.

Having established the requirements for an older woman teacher, the text tells us what these women are to teach.

Then they can urge the younger women to:

Love their husbands and children

to be self-controlled

and pure

to be busy at home

to be kind

and to be subject to their husbands

so that no one will malign the word of God.

Since they were to teach these things, the younger women must have needed instruction in these tasks.

Don’t we still need these instructions?

 Do we not need reminders to consistently love our husbands?  Is it natural to love when we feel it, or to love consistently?

Do we not need some accountability to stay pure in our current culture?

Are we human beings prone to laziness and carelessness?  Do we not need encouragement to make our houses into homes?

Do we need someone to share with us a vision for cultivating our homes and families?

Are we always kind?  Do we tend to serve ourselves?

Do we need encouragement to be subject to our husbands?  Do we need to understand why that makes sense, in contrast to the culture we live in? Don’t we need the example of women who are joyfully submissive while freely sharing their gifts for the benefit of their families?

And finally, do we need reminders every minute that we are constantly representing God in this world?

The ultimate object is that God would not be maligned. How we represent God is of ultimate importance.  It’s always about Him.

Prepare to give a reason for why you live the way you do. Be ready to share your hard-won insights on cultivating relationships within your family; on how and why to live on your husband’s income;  on why you have adopted Biblical roles in your marriage; on discipling your children consistently; on how you teach your children not to conform to this culture.

You are a wellspring of philosophical support and encouragement. You can live Titus 2.

I say we get busy.

 

Projects, Pets, and Full Plates

If you are a woman with a child, don’t look for projects. You already have a project that requires all your attention and talent. You already have a built-in full-time career.

We all feel more comfy with tasks or jobs. They come with objective measures for how well the job is done.  The measures tell you when the job is completed and you can move on. These jobs are things to do which have a finishing point, about which we can feel a sense of accomplishment. Things which we can exert our power over and receive no willful resistance. Things for which we receive feedback about our performance from coworkers and superiors.

But if you have children, you have an ongoing task built into your life which calls for different methods. That person, or those people, require that you engage with them, act toward them, behave around them. They require that you constantly acquire wisdom about how to teach and guide them. You need to learn on the job.

This task is never done; it is life-long.

You will receive a lot of resistance to your work. You are struggling with an autonomous being who is your equal in will, and hasn’t yet learned to be master of himself.  He is still learning self-control, other-centeredness, and courtesy. You may have several of these beings to relate to, each different from the others.

There are only subjective and open-ended measures for your work; you can never know whether you are accomplishing your job well. Results are as permanent as sand beneath the waves. In fact, you will probably get the worst resistance and hostility when you are doing your job best.

I understand why women with children opt for careers rather than staying home full-time; in some ways it’s easier.

But I find a puzzling thing among women with and without careers.

Working women with demanding jobs and children find themselves stressed and obsessed with a third task.  It can be a ministry, a demanding pastime, or a demanding pet. The notable thing about these third tasks is that they are optional.

Women who believe that it is preferable to be full-time stay at home mothers, and even homeschool, because that lifestyle allows them to be engaged in their children’s lives…who have chosen to be the primary teachers and disciplers to their children…also find themselves engaged in a third task.  It might be a ministry, a family hobby, or just the need to be involved in the endless opportunities available to a woman who has complete prerogative over her schedule, and who has a car. With these optional tasks, these women are also adding stress and distraction to their already-full plates.

Any and all of those things will crowd out the real eternal task you have in front of you: raising your child. Loving your child takes everything you have.

Raising a child offers little reward in a material sense. Many times you will feel very alone.  You will not feel a sense of accomplishment so much as an awareness of how badly you have done the job compared to how it ought to have been done. You will not be paid or be treated to any system of job reviews. There is no system to provide you with feedback from co-workers or superiors. And you cannot quit this job, ever.

It’s relationship you are tasked with.  Building a relationship with each of the children you have is your responsibility. You are called to it the day your child is born. It’s open-ended, subjective, unpredictable, exhausting, and thankless. It’s humbling and absolutely necessary.

And please don’t mistake pet ownership for relationship. Pets are not eternal beings who will forever be influenced by the quality of your discipling. You are not answerable to Almighty God for how faithfully you lived out your calling to bend them toward a lifetime of faithfulness. Pets do not have an eternal destiny. Preferring pet training to the call of loving and shaping your child is so sad I don’t know where to go with it.