I heard about this family through a homeschooling friend and wrote about it for Literate Little One. Being a teacher myself, it is a constant occupational concern that my work remain current, new, enthusiastic, and all the other stuff that work generally isn’t once you’ve spent enough time doing it that you know what you’re doing. We can try so hard to keep the lesson materials all shiny and fresh, but the fact is that my twenty kids are sitting in one room for most of the time they are with me, and I have to use multiple different teaching methods to reach as many different learning styles as possible.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say classroom education is as bad as this, but it’s very easy for it to become so.
This means that, necessarily, the kids aren’t going to have their own personal optimal learning style catered to for the majority of the day (and that’s fine- they can certainly learn a lot from having to adjust to learning someone else’s way for a while). The reason this story struck a chord with me, though, is that this family seems to have removed that element from their kids’ education entirely. The kids stay motivated all day with learning as a way of life because their parents can afford to concentrate all their energy on them. There aren’t twenty other kids among whom they must divide their time and attention, and just look at the results:
From Literate Little One:
The Today Show featured an eye-catching story about the incredible success one family has had as homeschoolers. If you haven’t already seen this, you should really check out Bob Dotson’s coverage of it on NBC, but then come right back because we have things to discuss.
Kip and Mona Lisa Harding pose with their children
Parents Kip and Mona Lisa have really showcased the benefits of one-on-one attention, haven’t they? The kids are starting college before they hit their teen years! The first one doing university level schoolwork, daughter Hannah, now holds a master’s in both mechanical engineering and math and has a job designing spacecraft. The others listed in this piece are doing equally auspicious things even though the last third of the article builds the case that, not only do the parents consider their children to have average intelligence levels, but their days are spent having fun. Somewhere along the way, work has to come into the mix- it just has to, but it certainly is an easier pill to swallow when your priorities are to find what a student is inclined to learn, what they enjoy, and encourage them to explore that, non? Quoting the father in the article,
“The expectation is that you’re going to have a fun day,” Kip says, watching his children play. “Not that you’re going to come home with A’s.”
Seth Harding in the middle of a “lesson” about the Middle Ages
No mention of test anxiety here, no drudging through required typing courses, just find what you love and spend the day on that.
“By the time you get down to number five, number six, they just think learning seems normal. We find out what their passions are, what they really like to study, and we accelerate them gradually,”
so says their mother. If, like me, your first thoughts were that “going to college” is not for twelve year olds, however grand it may sound, consider that the kids are living at home, and certainly not in dorms, and they aren’t launching into it with full courseloads in their first semester. Learning just seems normal for them. Considering the strain of attending a full class day, and the relief of finally stepping back out of the classroom, this is a refreshing perspective. It’s no wonder they’re seeing such brilliant results: learning isn’t the odious task of filling out papers and completing projects in a classroom, it’s just the way of life.
What do you think about this? If you were reared in a traditional classroom setting, do you think you would have gone farther, faster too if you had been able to study this way? If you were homeschooled, did you feel like you had an advantage in the flexibility of a more taylored educational program? How do you feel about starting kids in college work at such an early age? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!