Saturday, June 25, 2011

Do I Really Need to Teach Latin?

Choosing curriculum can be so difficult. There are so many choices, and while a few I can mark off fairly quickly as being not for us, many are ones that I could see would be useful, effective, wonderful, etc. How do you really choose? And what if you keep going back and forth between several choices?

They all sound good when you read about them. The companies make their products sound so good. They sometimes even say that using their products is the only way your child will become an intelligent, scholarly, logical, compassionate, productive, Godly, intellectual, and/or promising member of society. And reading other people's reviews only tells you so much. Their experience may not be your experience, since their children are not your children. And their teaching abilities are not the same as your own teaching abilities and/or inclinations.

How do I make the right choice, and what if I'm wrong? Will I mess up my children forever? Public school isn't perfect, obviously, and no single (or even combination) homeschool curriculum is either. I have to keep telling myself that. I didn't have a perfect education (probably far from it, given that I attended 8 different public school systems all over the country and abroad), and I still ended up fairly scholarly, logical, intelligent, compassionate, etc. At least, I think so. Even if I make a few mistakes teaching my children, they'll probably be able to overcome any shortcomings, given a decent enough base. (Teaching character is probably more important than any other subject - determination, hard work, love of learning, etc.) They'll learn even more once they pass the age of 18. I am, after all. I am realizing how much I didn't learn myself in my first 13 years of school, now that I am researching what to teach my own children. Some are things I learned later, in college and in life, while others are things that I want to make sure to learn with my children this time around!

What about Latin, for example? "You must study Latin to understand logic and even English grammar," some people say. Well, I never studied Latin, and I think I'm fairly logical and grammatical. I spent many years writing computer software and programming robots, and that requires quite a bit of logic.

In fact, now that I think about it, maybe computer programming should be the new Latin. Studying computer science may be just as effective as Latin in producing logical adults. And it's probably quite a bit more useful, too.

Anyway, I think the only way to really know what curriculum you should choose is to try out different things. It might cost a bit more that way, but you can try and resell the ones that didn't work out, and it might be the only way to really know what you need.

Your children's learning styles may be useful to know, but not crucial. They can pretty much learn enough from any style, though they may not like it as much. They're not going to love everything about every subject, no matter what you choose. It's school, after all. You have to learn some things you don't like, no matter what.

I'm beginning to understand that the teacher may be the most important part. If you don't have a good teacher, the best material isn't going to help too much. Some kids really can learn some subjects all by themselves, but probably not every subject, and the younger they are, the more help they need in every subject. So you need to pick curriculum that you can teach with - one that has whatever helps you need, and is in a style that you can relate to and enjoy using, because not only is it true that "if Momma's not happy, nobody's happy," it's also true that "if the teacher's not happy, nobody's happy!"

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Also, good to know that Computer Programming involves logic since my son who is not very logical, just started that course with Florida Virtual School.

    You are so right in that some subjects really need a teacher to come to life. Sure my son can learn literature analysis all by himself, but oh how beautiful it is when we can have a one hour conversation about a book we have both read and compare those themes to other things in our lives. There's just something to be said for having a teacher that brings a subject matter to life.

    I think each of us remember at least one teacher like that. For me it was my 7th grade English teacher who introduced me to classic literature for the first time in my life.