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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 - Rose on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 02:14

Does anyone have any suggestions for self-motivating curriculums? I am looking to change our curriculum next year. My children do not enjoy school and I want homeschooling to be a great memory. I am kicking around the idea of unit studies for next year. My children will be in 8,7,4/3, 1 and a preschooler next year.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Does anyone have any suggestions for self-motivating curriculums? I am looking to change our curriculum next year. My children do not enjoy school and I want homeschooling to be a great memory. I am kicking around the idea of unit studies for next year. My children will be in 8,7,4/3, 1 and a preschooler next year. Thanks for any suggestions.
Guest - Sharon (website) on Monday, 29 March 2010 06:57

Hi, my name is Sharon, and this is such a relief. Knowing that it is possible for your children to teach themselves and be successful in life. And it makes sense that they will be more interested in learning a subject they are interested in. I espeacially liked the comment made about learning everyday skills. As far as I know the public school systems do not teach these skills, but they are very much needed skills for children to know. I'am very Thankful for this forum.

Hi, my name is Sharon, and this is such a relief. Knowing that it is possible for your children to teach themselves and be successful in life. And it makes sense that they will be more interested in learning a subject they are interested in. I espeacially liked the comment made about learning everyday skills. As far as I know the public school systems do not teach these skills, but they are very much needed skills for children to know. I'am very Thankful for this forum.
Guest - Lee (website) on Monday, 15 March 2010 11:48

Hi Pam,
Yes, that's what I'm talking about is finding resources OTHER than mom (or teacher) to get the information. Using a video tutor is exactly the kind of thing that can help.
Blessings,
Lee

Hi Pam, Yes, that's what I'm talking about is finding resources OTHER than mom (or teacher) to get the information. Using a video tutor is exactly the kind of thing that can help. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Pam on Monday, 15 March 2010 04:38

If you let someone else "teach" them, is that the same? For instance, we're using Teaching Textbooks for my oldest. I helped alot with Algebra, but I haven't been doing much "assisting" with Geometry this year. He gets it all from the text and computer "lectures" & explanations.

If you let someone else "teach" them, is that the same? For instance, we're using Teaching Textbooks for my oldest. I helped alot with Algebra, but I haven't been doing much "assisting" with Geometry this year. He gets it all from the text and computer "lectures" & explanations.
Guest - Donna on Thursday, 04 March 2010 11:05

I myself am a show-me learner and I did
very well in college. Although I admire
people who possess the skill to self-teach in every subject matter, I do not. (There will be tutors and learning centers at college for those who need them.) Witholding instruction from students who truly need help can stop progress. Thankfully, my son teaches me computer skills. I am thrilled that my homeschooled teenagers love to learn!

I myself am a show-me learner and I did very well in college. Although I admire people who possess the skill to self-teach in every subject matter, I do not. (There will be tutors and learning centers at college for those who need them.) Witholding instruction from students who truly need help can stop progress. Thankfully, my son teaches me computer skills. I am thrilled that my homeschooled teenagers love to learn!
Guest - Lee (website) on Tuesday, 02 March 2010 10:26

Great comment Carol! It is important to cover the core subjects while pursuing delight directed learning. Here is a blog post that may help:
http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/help-my-child-isnt-interested-in-anything/1709/

Thanks for your interesting comments!
Blessings,
Lee

Great comment Carol! It is important to cover the core subjects while pursuing delight directed learning. Here is a blog post that may help: http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/help-my-child-isnt-interested-in-anything/1709/ Thanks for your interesting comments! Blessings, Lee
Guest - carol on Tuesday, 02 March 2010 05:32

I agree to a point Lee ~ certainly we cannot force actual learning just like you can't force feed children..we can offer good learning materials and opportunities but true learning has to be done by the student. However, I do think it is difficult if your child does NOT have any interest in any academic subjects, like yours did. What if you have a child who has no interest in math or learning a second language or writing (except on the computer)or economics or history or psychology or geography. What if their ONLY passion is music or bike riding or car mechanics and they will spend hours each day doing that or they only are interested in reading science fiction or whatever? It is a lot of work to try to expand these interests into "sujbjects" and sometimes when I have tried to relate these to academic subjects there is tremendous resistance and still no interest. Or even worse...what if you have a very passive child with no evidence of initiative or passion in ANY subjects or areas? I think there are so many special exceptions to this idea...maybe?

I agree to a point Lee ~ certainly we cannot force actual learning just like you can't force feed children..we can offer good learning materials and opportunities but true learning has to be done by the student. However, I do think it is difficult if your child does NOT have any interest in any academic subjects, like yours did. What if you have a child who has no interest in math or learning a second language or writing (except on the computer)or economics or history or psychology or geography. What if their ONLY passion is music or bike riding or car mechanics and they will spend hours each day doing that or they only are interested in reading science fiction or whatever? It is a lot of work to try to expand these interests into "sujbjects" and sometimes when I have tried to relate these to academic subjects there is tremendous resistance and still no interest. Or even worse...what if you have a very passive child with no evidence of initiative or passion in ANY subjects or areas? I think there are so many special exceptions to this idea...maybe?
Guest - laurie on Sunday, 28 February 2010 11:25

I have a freshman in high school and I am trying to get him ready for learning on his own for college. This was exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes I feel like I am not doing enough and become frustrated but then you realize that you don't have to be supermom.

I have a freshman in high school and I am trying to get him ready for learning on his own for college. This was exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes I feel like I am not doing enough and become frustrated but then you realize that you don't have to be supermom.
Guest - Kathy Koltes on Thursday, 18 February 2010 16:11

Lee,

I like this advice. Ithink my son learna better when I'm not in the same room with him. I will let him pick out the curriculum he wants to learn from.

Lee, I like this advice. Ithink my son learna better when I'm not in the same room with him. I will let him pick out the curriculum he wants to learn from.
Guest - Jennifer Sikora (website) on Monday, 15 February 2010 11:04

Thanks Lee for this. I am ordering our kids curriculum this year that is self teaching so that they can begin to learn how to teach themselves.

This was an awesome post.

Thanks Lee for this. I am ordering our kids curriculum this year that is self teaching so that they can begin to learn how to teach themselves. This was an awesome post.
Guest - Elaine Butler (website) on Saturday, 06 February 2010 14:45

I am happy to say that this is my experience as well. Motivated kids with parents who can help find them the materials to study are way ahead of unmotivated kids being told what to do each day. Even kids who are not motivated to do anything are likely to find their motivation when the motivated life is modeled for them, instead of being enforced. The consequence of not doing anything is not that you will be a failure for life. It's that you will be bored and unhappy. Sometimes they have to learn that themselves!

I am happy to say that this is my experience as well. Motivated kids with parents who can help find them the materials to study are way ahead of unmotivated kids being told what to do each day. Even kids who are not motivated to do anything are likely to find their motivation when the motivated life is modeled for them, instead of being enforced. The consequence of not doing anything is not that you will be a failure for life. It's that you will be bored and unhappy. Sometimes they have to learn that themselves!
Guest - adrienne (website) on Monday, 01 February 2010 16:49

YES! I agree 100%. I am a mom of 4 kids and 2 are sophomore and junior. They are 100% self study and we love it. I am a Charlotte Mason support group leader and this is the way to go. The goal of Charlotte Mason's way it for the child to own what they learn and become self learners. It is wonderful.

YES! I agree 100%. I am a mom of 4 kids and 2 are sophomore and junior. They are 100% self study and we love it. I am a Charlotte Mason support group leader and this is the way to go. The goal of Charlotte Mason's way it for the child to own what they learn and become self learners. It is wonderful.
Guest - Lee (website) on Friday, 18 December 2009 08:26

Karen,
I have one child of each kind. I have one child that loves math and one child that tolerates math. I bought them a self-teaching curriculum, and I scheduled what they were to do each day. It was required that they did their math assignments, but they taught themselves using the curriculum that I chose.

It can help to make math "fun". We used Family Math when the kids were young. Here is a blog post about that:
http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/how-to-use-family-math/290/

This blog post about "not teaching" isn't specifically about math, it's more about general "self-teaching." For more information about the importance and value of math specifically:
http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/why-is-math-important/22/

Blessings,
Lee

Karen, I have one child of each kind. I have one child that loves math and one child that tolerates math. I bought them a self-teaching curriculum, and I scheduled what they were to do each day. It was required that they did their math assignments, but they taught themselves using the curriculum that I chose. It can help to make math "fun". We used Family Math when the kids were young. Here is a blog post about that: http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/how-to-use-family-math/290/ This blog post about "not teaching" isn't specifically about math, it's more about general "self-teaching." For more information about the importance and value of math specifically: http://www.thehomescholar.com/blog/why-is-math-important/22/ Blessings, Lee
Guest - karen on Friday, 18 December 2009 07:43

I had that same question. Lee, were your sons just naturally interested in higher math in order to teach themselves? I don't know if my sons would take that on themselves with my insistence. I have been working on division and mulitiplication skills with my 9 year old because he kept telling me he couldn't remmber how to do it. I told him well until you show me you can do it we will have to practice. This went on for weeks. Suddenly yesterday he told me he wanted to do something as his Birthday was coming up. I said that we would be taking a nice long break for Christmas but I wanted to finish our practice on his math. He did it in just a few minutes in his head. Large division problems he was doing in his head!. I asked how long have you been able to do this and he said always. Go figure. I am still stunned. LOL but what a waste of those weeks. I can't figure out why he didn't tell me sooner.

I had that same question. Lee, were your sons just naturally interested in higher math in order to teach themselves? I don't know if my sons would take that on themselves with my insistence. I have been working on division and mulitiplication skills with my 9 year old because he kept telling me he couldn't remmber how to do it. I told him well until you show me you can do it we will have to practice. This went on for weeks. Suddenly yesterday he told me he wanted to do something as his Birthday was coming up. I said that we would be taking a nice long break for Christmas but I wanted to finish our practice on his math. He did it in just a few minutes in his head. Large division problems he was doing in his head!. I asked how long have you been able to do this and he said always. Go figure. I am still stunned. LOL but what a waste of those weeks. I can't figure out why he didn't tell me sooner.

[...] don’t know or heck, just teach your kids, without you, the middle man/woman. Interesting read: Why you SHOULDN’T Teach your Homeschoolers. (Although I agree with some of the points she is making, I love to teach my big kids still— [...]

[...] don’t know or heck, just teach your kids, without you, the middle man/woman. Interesting read: Why you SHOULDN’T Teach your Homeschoolers. (Although I agree with some of the points she is making, I love to teach my big kids still— [...]
Guest - Faith on Friday, 11 December 2009 21:31

Beth -

You are NOT the only one! My 7th grader is currently "anti-academics", and firmly set against college. She loves to read, look things up on the internet, and talk about anything unrelated to math, history, science, grammar or language. I assigned a report (1 page, nothing too fancy) and she was able to find a book (by an excellent author, no less) within 25 minutes, locate a library and a bookstore that had it, and figure out how long it would take us to get there (consequently calculating whether we would make it before it closed). But she is completely paralyzed at the thought of writing 5 paragraphs about Joan of Arc. I think you're best off making sure they know how to locate the information they need: basically make sure they know how to learn. Can they make an appointment (time management)? Cancel a subscription (inter-personal skills)? Dispute a credit charge (2 for 1 - math & behaving graciously under pressure)? How about file a witness report with the police (observation & conveying clear, concise facts in writing)? These are everyday uses of common academic skills, but few people teach them. My best math advice is to let them see you use it. Figure up how much your car REALLY cost. Decide whether it's better to finance a big-screen TV through the store at 0% interest (with the fine print, of course!) or on your credit card. Find out what their dream job is, how much it pays, then see if they can afford the house they want on that amount of money. Adjust it for inflation from the last however many years. Have them balance an old ledger, or fill out a tax form. If you've had to do it during your adult life, they should know how to do it, too. Call it Applied Mathematics, or Consumer Math. If they can find out how much they need to earn to buy their dream house and figure out what job they need to get there, I'd say they've got a good handle on things.

Beth - You are NOT the only one! My 7th grader is currently "anti-academics", and firmly set against college. She loves to read, look things up on the internet, and talk about anything unrelated to math, history, science, grammar or language. I assigned a report (1 page, nothing too fancy) and she was able to find a book (by an excellent author, no less) within 25 minutes, locate a library and a bookstore that had it, and figure out how long it would take us to get there (consequently calculating whether we would make it before it closed). But she is completely paralyzed at the thought of writing 5 paragraphs about Joan of Arc. I think you're best off making sure they know how to locate the information they need: basically make sure they know how to learn. Can they make an appointment (time management)? Cancel a subscription (inter-personal skills)? Dispute a credit charge (2 for 1 - math & behaving graciously under pressure)? How about file a witness report with the police (observation & conveying clear, concise facts in writing)? These are everyday uses of common academic skills, but few people teach them. My best math advice is to let them see you use it. Figure up how much your car REALLY cost. Decide whether it's better to finance a big-screen TV through the store at 0% interest (with the fine print, of course!) or on your credit card. Find out what their dream job is, how much it pays, then see if they can afford the house they want on that amount of money. Adjust it for inflation from the last however many years. Have them balance an old ledger, or fill out a tax form. If you've had to do it during your adult life, they should know how to do it, too. Call it Applied Mathematics, or Consumer Math. If they can find out how much they need to earn to buy their dream house and figure out what job they need to get there, I'd say they've got a good handle on things.
Guest - Beth on Saturday, 07 November 2009 15:49

Oops, I meant I have the opposite situation that Lee had.

Oops, I meant I have the opposite situation that Lee had.
Guest - Beth on Saturday, 07 November 2009 15:46

The problem is... not all kids are interested in algebra or precalculus, chemistry, etc... and get overwhelmed when they are expected to do it themselves--they sit for hours lost or just give up and go on Facebook or iTunes. Yet, they are forced to take it as a graduation requirement in case they go to college. (Fortunately I can afford a tutor). Not all kids are meant to go to college right out of high school or ever. Some may need or want to go into a trade. It's frustrating for parents who don't have children who take the initiative to self learn or have "ADD", or have kids that just have other interests-I wish I had good advice for that kind of situation, because I have the opposite situation. Am I the only one?

The problem is... not all kids are interested in algebra or precalculus, chemistry, etc... and get overwhelmed when they are expected to do it themselves--they sit for hours lost or just give up and go on Facebook or iTunes. Yet, they are forced to take it as a graduation requirement in case they go to college. (Fortunately I can afford a tutor). Not all kids are meant to go to college right out of high school or ever. Some may need or want to go into a trade. It's frustrating for parents who don't have children who take the initiative to self learn or have "ADD", or have kids that just have other interests-I wish I had good advice for that kind of situation, because I have the opposite situation. Am I the only one?
Guest - Deb on Thursday, 05 November 2009 07:42

I love this article! My son has been teaching himself for years, now. I help when needed. We discuss what he has learned, mainly because he loves to tell me about it! He is 15 years old and currently he is learning Physics online with the Thinkwell program. The lectures are great and my son loves to share them with me, because quite often, they are funny. He is learning Algebra 2 from a textbook of his choice. We are a part of a charter school. The teacher that we work with says that we let him follow his own course and it must be working because he will be graduating a year early. His grade point average was 3.875 last semester.

I love this article! My son has been teaching himself for years, now. I help when needed. We discuss what he has learned, mainly because he loves to tell me about it! He is 15 years old and currently he is learning Physics online with the Thinkwell program. The lectures are great and my son loves to share them with me, because quite often, they are funny. He is learning Algebra 2 from a textbook of his choice. We are a part of a charter school. The teacher that we work with says that we let him follow his own course and it must be working because he will be graduating a year early. His grade point average was 3.875 last semester.
Guest - Viane (website) on Wednesday, 04 November 2009 09:26

Awesome article. This year I have given the learning reigns to my 10th grade daughter. I am a little nervous but it is all good.

Awesome article. This year I have given the learning reigns to my 10th grade daughter. I am a little nervous but it is all good.
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