Educational theorists, from philosophers like Socrates and Rousseau to researchers like Howard Gardner today, have addressed theories of learning. Many of their ideas continue to influence homeschoolers as well as traditional educators. A little familiarity with some of the ideas most popular among homeschoolers will help you make sense of the wealth of available materials when you begin to make choices for your family.
Jean Piaget and Cognitive Development
He proposed that children go through several distinct stages of cognitive growth. First comes the sensorimotor stage (birth to two years), during which the child learns primarily through sensation and movement. At the pre-operational stage (ages two to seven), children begin to master symbols such as language and start to be able to form hypotheses based on past experiences. At the concrete operational stage (ages seven to eleven), children learn to generalize from one situation to similar ones, although such reasoning is usually limited to their own concrete experience.
Finally, at the formal operational stage (eleven years older), children can deal with abstractions, form hypothesis and engage freely in mental speculation. Although the rate at which children progress through the stages varies considerably, the sequence of stages is consistent for all children.
Therefore, to be appropriate and effective, learning activities should be tailored to the cognitive level of the child.
Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Schools
Steiner divided children’s development into three stages: to age seven, children learn primarily by imitation; from seven to fourteen, feelings and emotions predominate; and after age fourteen, the development of independent reasoning skills becomes important. Waldorf education tends to emphasize arts and crafts, music, and movement, especially at younger ages, and textbooks are eschewed in favor of books the students make for themselves. Waldorf theories also maintain that the emphasis should be on developing the individual’s self-awareness and judgment, sheltered from political and economic aspects of society until well into adolescence.
Montessori and the Prepared Environment
Italian physician Maria Montessori’s work emphasized the idea of the prepared environment: Provide the proper surroundings and tools, so that children can develop their full potential. Montessori materials are carefully selected, designed to help children learn to function in their cultures and to become independent and competent. Emphasis is on beauty and quality, and that which confuses or clutters is avoided: Manipulative are made of wood rather than plastic tools are simple and functional, and television and computers are discouraged.
Charlotte Mason: Guiding Natural Curiosity
Charlotte Mason was a nineteenth-century educator advocated informal learning during the child’s early year contrast with the Prussian system of regimented learning then in vogue. She recommended nature study to develop both observational skill and an appreciation for the beauty of creation and extended that approach to teaching history geography through travel and study of the environment rather than as collections of data to master. She felt children learn best when instruction takes into account their individual abilities and temperaments, but she emphasized the importance of developing good habits to govern one’s temperament and laying a solid foundation of good moral values.
Holt and Unschooling
Educator John Holt wrote extensively about school reform in the 1960s. Although he originally proposed the word “unschooling” simply as a more satisfactory alternative to “homeschooling.” Unschooling now generally refers to a style of homeschooling, in which learning is not seperated from living, and children learn mainly by following their interests. Children learn best, he argued, not by being taught, but by being a part of the world, free to most interests them, by having their questions answered as they ask them, and by being treated with respect rather than condescension.
Gardner and Multiple Intelligences
Psychologist Howard Gardner argues that intelligence is not a single unitary property and proposes the existence of “multiple intelligences.” He identifies seven types of intelligence: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Because each person has a different mix of these intelligences, learning is best tailored to each individual’s strengths, rather than emphasizing the linguistic and logical-mathematical approaches traditionally used in schools. A bodily kinesthetic learner, for instance, might grasp geometric concepts presented with hands-on manipulative far more easily than she would if they were presented in a more traditionally logical, narrative fashion. A teaching approach that recognizes a variety of learning styles might encourage many individuals now lost by conventional methods.
When you are in Africa, you will obviously want to see animals. The best way to do this is to book yourself a place on a safari. Guided safaris leave regularly from all the biggest tourist destinations, and you can even arrange your own if you know what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Africa boasts some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world, including elephants, lions, tigers, crocodiles, hippos, rhinos, monkeys, and much more besides. If you’re not exactly the adventurous type, you can see a surprising amount without even leaving South Africa. If you want to see the most interesting animals, though, you should head for the rainforest.
When you go on safari, remember that it will be hot and the terrain will be rough. You need to wear the proper clothing, which means nothing too warm, and you should also be careful to be well-rested, fed and hydrated before you go. Take plenty of water with you, and don’t go too far in any one day.
There is also the issue that many of the animals that you’re going to be seeing can be very dangerous – even the ones you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Always stay alert. It is generally a good idea to stay in your car as much as possible, especially if you are a beginner. If you find yourself in danger, remember the golden rule: don’t panic, and stay still. Tempting as it might be to scream in terror and run away, that will only startle the animal, and make it far more likely for it to attack you in self-defence.
At the end of the day, a safari can be a very memorable experience, and you’ll be fine as long as you use your common sense. Don’t try to run before you can walk, and don’t put yourself in any danger. Just pick an animal you’ve always wanted to see, and go for it.
Are you a working professional who would like to pursue a degree but don’t have enough time to devote to attending classes? Are you a person who would like to pursue higher education but you do not have the funds required for the courses? Then an online degree from a recognized university is the right choice for you. There are many universities all around the world who offer online degrees to individuals in various fields such as management, architectural courses, hospitality, health, medicine, transcription etc. These colleges provide the courses to students in addition to the classroom courses that they offer. However there are many universities that carry on business solely through online courses or distance education courses.
The major advantage of pursuing an online university course is that it proves to be a cheaper option in comparison to courses that are offered in the classroom. Moreover the student can pursue the course of a university that is situated at the other side of the globe. The student can complete the course and appear for exams from the comforts of his home. The course is completed by the student in the form of online tutorials, online lectures, performance support systems and much more. Also, in many cases video conferencing is possible where professors give lectures online in a classroom. Topics can be discussed with the professors in real time and queries solved.
Online degree courses prove to be beneficial to the students as they provide more knowledge to the students and also give the students a degree to add to their resume. Online degree courses from reputable institutions are said to increase the career and job prospects of the students pursuing the courses. Also study material can be sent to the student’s home in the form of interactive CDRoms and ebooks. Online degree courses can also be conducted in a Wide Area Network today known as WAN. Students in a city are required to attend the lectures conducted thorough video conferencing using collaborative and classroom management software. Thus, e-learning proves to be effective for the student as the student can carry all his material around wherever he wants on his PDA or his laptop.
Despite all the pros that I have discussed above for getting an online degree, it certainly has its cons. People argue that the presence of a physical classroom where the teacher and the students interact with each other is removed. Also online degree courses assume less importance in comparison to full time university degrees. Student’s queries are not solved in a short time as the presence of the teacher is missing. However, as mentioned before, online lectures are made possible through video conferencing where the students can indeed interact with their professors. The advanced use of technology has made online degrees possible.
In spite of the cons, online degrees are being pursued by thousands of students all over the world due to lower costs and flexibility in the timings of the lectures and examinations. Online discussion boards are also set up for students and professors where the students can get their queries solved and also discuss a variety of topics relevant to the degree.
In summary, we see that an online degree reduces a distance of 1000 miles or more between a student and the university to just 5 minutes with the help of advanced technology and the internet. It saves costs by potentially thousands of dollars. It saves on your time of traveling to a university and attending classes and also provides you flexible timings to pursue your studies. It provides a workable schedule to further your education which normally would be impossible. Obviously the increasing popularity of online degree courses admissions all around the world are enough proof that the pros far outweigh the cons. Are you missing out?