Why do you teach your children Language Arts? What are you hoping to accomplish? What is the goal, the end of the road?
It is so essential for me to keep that end-of-the-road milepost in constant remembrance! Without it, we quickly get side-tracked into reflexive pronouns, antecedents, inverted sentence order and more. For me, the goal I hope to accomplish by teaching my children Language Arts is that they can express themselves clearly in the spoken and written word, so that they may influence others for good. It is a simple goal, and keeping it foremost in my mind helps me avoid detours.
I am not saying that knowing English terms is to be avoided. But the point of Language Arts is communication, not mastery of terms so you can score on a test. Something happened for the worse when the USA took on the concept of meeting National Education Standards in each subject. It seemed to reduce learning to the act of inhaling terms and exhaling them on demand, without ever truly learning to communicate in a way that can influence others.
The constant teaching of, learning and testing of terms seems to be justified by the reasoning, “you have to know it to get into college”. Let’s not forget that a college degree is not the end goal, it is just a stepping stone to a goal.
When my son Nathan went to the university, he would have rather been inventing and studying intensely about the things he wanted to invent. In fact, he often stayed up in the night, after studying for college, so he could really learn what he wanted and needed to know about science! Having to study for and attend college classes felt like a detour, and often prevented him from learning what he was anxiously yearning to know. A college degree was the means to get a job in which he could be paid for inventing, his chosen occupation. Without the college degree, he was a “tinkerer”. With the college degree, he would be paid for his creative genius. The college degree was a stepping stone to his dream career. Not the end goal.
Always ask “why?” It is the thing that keeps education on track. It is the question that helps homeschoolers maintain vision. If you can’t answer the question “why?” with a valid reason, then why make your kids do it? (“So you can get into college” is not a valid reason!)
“Why do I have to do this English page, Mom?”
“Because the pen is mightier than the sword! If you can learn to speak well and to write well, you will be mightier than the strongest warrior and able to influence others for good!”
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