Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Do We Really Need To Teach?

I was invited to participate in the recent Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania annual convention. At breakfast one morning, I spoke with a woman who was teaching her 11 year old daughter at home, but was deathly afraid to teach her in the high school years - even though she desperately wanted to. I shared the following thoughts with her that proved to be very encouraging.

We really only need to teach our children four things in order for them to be well educated.

First, we need to teach them to listen. If someone has learned to listen carefully, he or she can ask someone who is knowledgeable about an issue or question, and the person will learn.

Second, we need to teach our children to read with comprehension. Then, if they have a question or want to learn about something, they can go to the library, check out an appropriate book and learn about that particular subject.

Third, we need to teach them to observe. All science is really observation. Sir Isaac Newton observed that apples fell down, not up, and formulated his understanding of gravity from his observation. Children who have learned to observe can watch someone or simply study a situation and, again, they will learn.

The last thing we really need to teach is how to communicate. Once our children learn, they need to be able to communicate what they've learned to others.

The specific body of knowledge that we teach is not nearly as important as teaching children to listen, read, observe, and communicate. I have forgotten so much of what I studied in high school, college, and seminary. But, when I have a question, I try to listen carefully, or locate an appropriate book or article, or observe. Then, I try to communicate what I've learned to others.

If we teach our children those four things, they will be well educated.

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