Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Heart of Wisdom reviews

Part 1:

I was asked by Robin Sampson of Heart of Wisdom to do a review on my blog of her book "Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach".  Wow~ we downloaded the e-book form (it's also available as a "real" book)~ and I couldn't  believe the size of it!  I have a comb-binding machine~ and ended up seperating the book into 5 sections to comb-bind.  I'm really excited to read the whole thing~ but, let's face it~ I'm a busy homeschool mom, and this is a busy time of year.  So, having the book broken in smaller chunks makes it not so intimidating to me.  I got to thinking, maybe it would be nice to share my review in "sections"~ as I read~ share things that really stood out to me about the book.  So, here is Part 1.......

First of all, I just have to say that Robin Sampson put an amazing amount of time into the planning and writing of this book!  So far, I've been very impressed.  The premise of the book is that we should be using the Bible as our main "curriculum resource"~ and everything else should just fall in behind.  The first section of the  book is entitled "Lessons from Exodus".  I've only read the first 4 chapters so far~ but I'm amazed at how Robin ties homeschooling in with the story of the Children of Israel.  I never would have thought of it~ but the comparisons are so true!

I would highly recommend the book just for the small part that I've read so far.  It's  been such an encouragement to me to think that any struggles that I've faced in my homeschooling journey are shared by many; and that, by putting my complete trust in God and surrendering our homeschooling to Him, He will accomplish great things.  Please click on the Heart of Wisom link in my sidebar for more information on how you can get this book for yourselves.

To hold you over, I don't think Robin will mind if I share just a few "smidgens" of her writing that really stood out to me:

"I found that true wisdom is available only by spending a significant amount of your homeschool time studying and teaching God's Word."

"Academics are important, but only as they sharpen our focus on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Academic subjects are important tools--but they are only tools."
  *this really stood out to me, as I was just discussing this very thing with my Bible study group last week!

"When God gives a mission, he supplies the means to complete that mission!"  *think Moses~ remember how he didn't feel he was qualified?  Have you ever felt that way in regard to your homeschooling?

"Those whom he calls, He equips.  He knows what your children will face in the future, and He will give you what you need to educate them in the way they need to be educated.  Just trust in Him for what you need."  *Wow!  If we could all think about our homeschooling like that~ and actually remember it!  One of my very good friends once shared the phrase "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called"~ that's what this reminds me of~ homeschooling is definitely a calling~ if you've been called, you WILL be qualified as well.

"The unbelieving Hebrews had the same mindset as many of today's fearful homeschoolers, especially those who begin to think of returning their children to public school.  Going back to Egypt is familiar;  following God's path is, quite often, unfamiliar.  But those who put their faith in God will be rewarded!"

"As you focus on spiritual matters, God will take care of all of your homeschool needs.  He will give you the energy, resources, and opportunities to teach your children what they need to know for their unique future.  You need only trust Him:  His thoughts are so much more far-reaching, so much more fertile, so much higher than your own."

I hope these tidbits will entice you to read this book for yourself.  Again, I've barely just started it.  I'll be sharing more reviews on this book over the weeks to come.

Part 2:
It has been 2 weeks since my review of section 1 of Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach. I am normally a fairly fast reader, and certainly didn't expect it to take me this long to get through the second section of this book. I think the reason that it took me so long was because there was just SO MUCH to take in and absorb in these chapters (5-10).

Section 2 in entitled "Rethinking Education". In this section, Robin defines the terms "wisdom" and "education" and explores the roots of education from ancient times until now. She discusses the differences between Christian and secular worldviews, and Hebrew and Greek worldviews. The main appeal of this section is to return to the biblical model of educating our children.

I was very impressed with Robin's "brief" history of education (chapter 6). I put the word "brief" in quotes because I didn't find it to be brief at all; but, rather, quite thorough. I know I said this in my last review, but I am amazed at the amount of study and time that went into the writing of this book; and, specifically, this chapter. In the chapters that follow, she goes into even more detail.

Some of the things that really stood out to me in this section were:

* "Knowledge is recognition of the facts; understanding is to perceive the meaning of the facts, and wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge."
* "It is possible to have knowledge and yet lack understanding and wisdom; you may have the facts but comprehend their meanings and/or have no clue as to what to do with them." This reminds me of public school!
* "Homeschooling parents must not become so worried about fractions or spelling that they neglect sitting at the feet of our Master in Bible study and prayer. We can attempt to prepare our sons and daughters for what we discern their gifts to be, but God still may take them in another direction. Only He knows the end from the beginning, and He knows the training they will need for their futures of serving Him." This was a bit of a "slap in the face" for me~ and probably for alot of other homeschoolers as well. Especially at this time of year, I get very wrapped up in planning my curriculum choices for next year~ making lists, readying myself for convention, etc.~ that I often forget to consult with God for His plans/choices for our school.
* "The first colleges in America were founded to spread the Gospel of Christ. One hundred and six of the first 108 colleges were started on the Christian faith. The Bible was their first textbook." Need I say anything more beyond "what has happened to our country?!"

In chapter 9, Robin discusses the educations of Jesus and Paul. She goes on to discuss how their education fed into their teaching style. I really enjoyed this chapter~ it gave me alot of insight into ways that I should be using to teach my children.

I'm anxious for Section 3~ it contains the Heart of Wisdom Methods. Be watching for my review!

Part 3:
I found this third section of The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach to be very informative. This section is entitled “Heart of Wisdom Methods” and starts by explaining for 4 different learning styles and the 4 steps to the Heart of Wisdom approach, and goes on to explain several of the teaching methods that are incorporated into the course. Several of them were things that I have heard of in the homeschooling world, but wasn’t entirely familiar with; so, I really enjoyed the detailed descriptions and the time that Robin put into explaining them.

I’ve read other books dealing with learning styles, and just haven’t been able to get really “into” them. This book really just “touches” on the learning styles, but gives enough of a description of each that you can clearly see which category(ies) your child falls into. I’m just going to briefly explain each style here:

Type 1: The Innovative Learner ~ one who primarily perceives information concretely, and processes by thinking it through; show appreciation for other people and model themselves after those people whom they respect.

Type 2: The Analytic Learner ~ one who primarily perceives information abstractly and processes actively by working with it consciously; mainly interested in acquiring facts in order to deepen their understanding of concepts; thorough and industrious.

Type 3: The Common-Sense Learner ~ one who primarily perceives information abstractly and processes by thinking it through; primarily interested in finding out how things work; have little patience for unclear ideas; prefer to experiment and fiddle with concrete objects.

Type 4: The Dynamic Learner ~ one who primarily perceives information concretely and processes actively by working with it; chiefly concerned with self-directed discovery; learn by trial and error; thrive on challenge; take pleasure in change and easily adapt to it.

Here is a quick run-down of the 4-Step Learning Process:

Step 1: EXCITE ~ to create an interest (motivation)

Step 2: EXAMINE ~ to find out the facts (study, research)

Step 3: EXPAND ~ to do something with what has been learned (reinforcement)

Step 4: EXCEL ~ to pull everything together and share what has been learned

The first method of teaching incorporated into the Heart of Wisdom approach is Delight-Directed Learning. I think a lot of people (me included, before I read this book) think that this means that the child is in charge and the parent just does whatever the child wants. Really, though, that’s not the case at all. But, the point is to take the interests of the child, and expand on them. The child is able to take part in the planning process and in helping to chose the materials that will be used in learning. Then, the parent encourages the child to dig deeper and further into things that are of interest to them. Obviously, this is going to make learning a lot more fun! This method of learning is actually much better than using traditional textbooks as it fosters a love of learning in the child, as opposed to making a child learn a lot of facts that they aren’t going to have a desire to remember later on.

The second method discussed is Unit Studies. “Studies have shown that children using unit study methods retain the information longer and better than children who are taught using a traditional approach.” Unit studies are “interactive” and incorporate most subjects together, as opposed to a traditional setting where each subject is taught separate from the others. Unit studies work great with multiple age groups, and multiple learning styles.

Charlotte Mason’s Educational Philosophies are the third method discussed. Again, I have heard Charlotte’s name many, many times and was somewhat familiar with some of her ideas, but I really appreciated Robin’s brief, yet thorough description of them in this book. Some terms that Charlotte coined and methods that she incorporated are ones that are floating around the homeschooling community today~ “living rooms” (“real” books that hold a child’s interests), “twaddle” (dumbed-down literature), “nature walks” and “nature notebooks” (spending time outdoors really examining things and keeping a notebook of sketches, poetry, etc. related to those experiences), “copy work”, “dictation”, “journaling”, etc. The Charlotte Mason methods develop a true love of learning within children.

Writing to Learn is the fourth method that Robin incorporates into her 4 Step Process. There are various writing methods explained here, including narration, informal (or free) writing, journals and blogging, writing about Bible passages, and others.

The last technique discusses is Critical Thinking and Logic. This chapter explains what logic and rhetoric are and where Christians stand on such topics. I just want to quote one thing here: “The lessons in the Heart of Wisdom unit studies encourage critical thinking skills through sorting, sequencing, selecting, connecting, rejecting, and classifying the information that has been learned.” In other words, these things are just a basic part of everyday learning; no curriculum or book is used to cover these things.

Section 4 contains the instruction manual for the Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach. That part of my review will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please click on the Heart of Wisdom icon in my right sidebar for more information.

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