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Learning is More Important than Teaching

learning is more important than teaching


As homeschool parents, our goal is NOT to teach; our goal is for the kids to LEARN. I could have taught my kids "at grade level" and they wouldn't have learned a thing. Instead, I gave them curriculum at their ability level, and then they had to learn what they didn't already know. I believe that older teens MUST learn how to teach themselves. If our children go to college, they will be expected to learn all the textbook material on their own. College lectures are most often supplemental to the textbook - not the same content. If our children don't go to college, they will still have to teach themselves computer skills, online banking, or how to buy a car.

My kids taught themselves advanced math (pre-calculus) and calculus. They taught themselves physics. I know they learned the material because I gave them the tests. I didn't know what the calculus symbols meant, but I knew my kids' answers matched the answers on the key! I could have taught them biology and chemistry (because I'm an RN and I know that stuff) but they taught themselves instead. It worked out better for us when they taught themselves, and I just checked up on them from time to time. Alex taught himself economics, doing graduate level work in economic thought (we were later told by his Colege professor) while he was still in high school. He even taught himself psychology and business law, and earned fabulous grades on the college level CLEP exams in these subjects.

Here's my point: a child will teach themselves subjects they are interested in. It works out great for a kid who is working on an intensely academic, college prep curriculum as well as a kid who is in a relaxed homeschool environment. Learning is more important than teaching. I have seen SO many notes addressed to me about "getting it all done" that I just want to put in a plug for prayer and quiet time. I found that when I was consistent in adding them to my day that I could "get it all done." When I wasn't consistent, I got frustrated; either I was expecting too much, or was frustrated too easily. When I spent time with God, things went more smoothly in our homeschool. Do you think learning is more important than teaching? Please share in the comments!

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signature Please note: This post was originally published in November, 2007 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Comments 50

Guest - Sarah on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 07:54

Thank you for this article. It is very encouraging to know that others nudge their kids into self-teaching. Joanne Calderwood wrote an excellent book that explains how to do this: "The Self-Propelled Advantage." I've applied her principles to our homeschool with a lot of success.

Thank you for this article. It is very encouraging to know that others nudge their kids into self-teaching. Joanne Calderwood wrote an excellent book that explains how to do this: "The Self-Propelled Advantage." I've applied her principles to our homeschool with a lot of success.
Guest - Rosemary on Saturday, 25 May 2013 13:08

Dear Lee,

Thank you! I have been doubting our home schooling approach until I saw this article.

Dear Lee, Thank you! I have been doubting our home schooling approach until I saw this article.
Guest - Teresa (website) on Thursday, 11 August 2011 23:51

I absolutely love this! I definitely needed this as I am looking into another school year. I will remember this and put this to practice as I teach this year. With many children at home, I have never had the "teaching time" thing going really strong, but it has been enough to keep them on the right track. What a relief to know that it is alright for them to just learn and grow, and I can just get out of the way! I set up the framework and they get to build the grand structure of their learning.

I absolutely love this! I definitely needed this as I am looking into another school year. I will remember this and put this to practice as I teach this year. With many children at home, I have never had the "teaching time" thing going really strong, but it has been enough to keep them on the right track. What a relief to know that it is alright for them to just learn and grow, and I can just get out of the way! I set up the framework and they get to build the grand structure of their learning. :)
Guest - Pam (website) on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 13:54

Wow, what a blessing this post was! I constantly beat myself up if I don't get to sit down with each of our 4 children and do math etc. This year is going to be different! We even purchased Teaching Textbooks for math for my oldest two. My third child, a son, I do believe has mild ADD, and it is difficult to get him to sit and do his work alone. This fall we add our last child into K and my time will be even more stretched, but this post will really help with my older two children

Wow, what a blessing this post was! I constantly beat myself up if I don't get to sit down with each of our 4 children and do math etc. This year is going to be different! We even purchased Teaching Textbooks for math for my oldest two. My third child, a son, I do believe has mild ADD, and it is difficult to get him to sit and do his work alone. This fall we add our last child into K and my time will be even more stretched, but this post will really help with my older two children :)
Guest - Joy Asleson on Saturday, 21 May 2011 09:26

It is a blessing that many of you have high schoolers who love to learn and are excellent at self study. What is not discussed much are kids like mine who have ADHD and are challenged with sustained reading, concentration etc. It can be disheartening to parents like me who are homeschooling and feeling like they are failing miserably because their teen has difficulty being self direct and does not like to read or study (or anything that requires any mental effort). I have had to resort to tutors to help him. Even with tutors, he fights the process. Is there anyone out there who has a teen like this? It sometimes truly feels like I am alone.

It is a blessing that many of you have high schoolers who love to learn and are excellent at self study. What is not discussed much are kids like mine who have ADHD and are challenged with sustained reading, concentration etc. It can be disheartening to parents like me who are homeschooling and feeling like they are failing miserably because their teen has difficulty being self direct and does not like to read or study (or anything that requires any mental effort). I have had to resort to tutors to help him. Even with tutors, he fights the process. Is there anyone out there who has a teen like this? It sometimes truly feels like I am alone.
Guest - Michelle on Friday, 11 March 2011 10:49

I am so glad that you repost your blog comments. It was a great reminder. I appreciate your insight.

I am so glad that you repost your blog comments. It was a great reminder. I appreciate your insight.
Guest - Kim (website) on Thursday, 24 February 2011 15:56

Just the reminder I needed. Thanks for the encouragement from someone who has been "through it"!

Just the reminder I needed. Thanks for the encouragement from someone who has been "through it"!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karen Morris. Karen Morris said: RT @TheHomeScholar: Our goal in homeschooling is for the kids to LEARN. - http://wp.me/pctmJ-10 #homeschool [...]

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Karen Morris. Karen Morris said: RT @TheHomeScholar: Our goal in homeschooling is for the kids to LEARN. - http://wp.me/pctmJ-10 #homeschool [...]
Guest - Kate on Friday, 01 October 2010 07:44

Thanks again for telling me just what I needed to know today! I have been feeling like, I don't really "teach" my kids anymore. I miss it sometimes but they are in high school homeschool and doing fine! I have just these past few days been thinking, is this ok, is this what I should be doing??? I just ck on them periodically and make sure that I ask them questions about the work that they are doing or subjects that they had to read about.Thanks for your note about quiet time, I find that as well! Seek ye first the kingdom of God.. Thanks for all you do!
Kate

Thanks again for telling me just what I needed to know today! I have been feeling like, I don't really "teach" my kids anymore. I miss it sometimes but they are in high school homeschool and doing fine! I have just these past few days been thinking, is this ok, is this what I should be doing??? I just ck on them periodically and make sure that I ask them questions about the work that they are doing or subjects that they had to read about.Thanks for your note about quiet time, I find that as well! Seek ye first the kingdom of God.. Thanks for all you do! Kate
Guest - Tammy on Saturday, 14 August 2010 12:08

Thanks so much for your wisdom and tips. I am also grateful for your bold testimony of how keeping Christ FIRST and spending time with Him really makes all the difference.
Thanks for sharing for all of us who are still on the journey behind you...following your footprints along the way! : )

Thanks so much for your wisdom and tips. I am also grateful for your bold testimony of how keeping Christ FIRST and spending time with Him really makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing for all of us who are still on the journey behind you...following your footprints along the way! : )
Guest - carol on Thursday, 22 July 2010 12:52

You know, I just reread your article and many of the comments. I agree with most of them, but I did have another thought to add: your children self-taught, primarily the subjects they were interested in and then you tested them. What if you have a child who does not test well? They read the material, they think they understand it, they willingly do the work....and consistently score about 60% on the test...or worse! Then you got a problem with the self teaching, don't you?

You know, I just reread your article and many of the comments. I agree with most of them, but I did have another thought to add: your children self-taught, primarily the subjects they were interested in and then you tested them. What if you have a child who does not test well? They read the material, they think they understand it, they willingly do the work....and consistently score about 60% on the test...or worse! Then you got a problem with the self teaching, don't you?
Guest - Lee (website) on Friday, 07 May 2010 05:32

Dear Corine,

Curriculum developed for homeschoolers will be a good self-teaching curriculum. Curriculum developed for schools assumes that the teacher understands the concepts contained in the book; Latin, or calculus or whatever. Homeschool curriculum assumes that the parent knows nothing about the subject. Whatever is needed for teaching the concepts will be provided - usually with some sort of support by phone or email. The best way to find self-teaching curriculum is to use curriculum developed specifically for homeschoolers.

I hope that helps!
Blessings,
Lee

Dear Corine, Curriculum developed for homeschoolers will be a good self-teaching curriculum. Curriculum developed for schools assumes that the teacher understands the concepts contained in the book; Latin, or calculus or whatever. Homeschool curriculum assumes that the parent knows nothing about the subject. Whatever is needed for teaching the concepts will be provided - usually with some sort of support by phone or email. The best way to find self-teaching curriculum is to use curriculum developed specifically for homeschoolers. I hope that helps! Blessings, Lee
Guest - Corine (website) on Thursday, 06 May 2010 23:21

Hi! Great post! This has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I was a completely self-taught homeschooler, and that was very good for me. The things I taught myself I really excelled in. But there was the issue of being given complete control over my studies; I got to both study, and "not" study, any subject of my choosing - nothing was required! I think a little guidance and a few requirements would have been beneficial! However, I did LOVE to study, and I did do very well in college despite the gaps in my education where I lacked interest etc.

Thanks for the important reminder!

Any suggestions for specific self teaching curriculum?

Hi! Great post! This has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I was a completely self-taught homeschooler, and that was very good for me. The things I taught myself I really excelled in. But there was the issue of being given complete control over my studies; I got to both study, and "not" study, any subject of my choosing - nothing was required! I think a little guidance and a few requirements would have been beneficial! However, I did LOVE to study, and I did do very well in college despite the gaps in my education where I lacked interest etc. :) Thanks for the important reminder! Any suggestions for specific self teaching curriculum?
Guest - Cindy Blackwell on Sunday, 25 April 2010 13:28

I absolutely agree with you! We labor in vain if we do not allow God to help us build our house. If I don't seek Him out first thing in the morning, my whole day runs off course.

I like the idea that it is up to my children to learn rather than my ability to teach. When I ask the Holy Spirit to guide our day, it is as if we are following a well planned script. It works best when I follow His lead.

I absolutely agree with you! We labor in vain if we do not allow God to help us build our house. If I don't seek Him out first thing in the morning, my whole day runs off course. I like the idea that it is up to my children to learn rather than my ability to teach. When I ask the Holy Spirit to guide our day, it is as if we are following a well planned script. It works best when I follow His lead.
Guest - Rollingstonemom on Saturday, 24 April 2010 07:41

Thanks, Lee. This is how my 2 dc have been "homeschooled" since they came home from public school - 4 years ago. They are both working at a 10th grade level, with the younger child "teaching" the older more often than not. I've been a little worried if they were REAKKY doing as well as I have felt they were doing (both getting A's & B's on tests). *sighs with relief*

Thanks, Lee. This is how my 2 dc have been "homeschooled" since they came home from public school - 4 years ago. They are both working at a 10th grade level, with the younger child "teaching" the older more often than not. I've been a little worried if they were REAKKY doing as well as I have felt they were doing (both getting A's & B's on tests). *sighs with relief*
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