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Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners Paperback – June 27, 2012
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"Although the title says 'Project-Based Homeschooling,' it is really something that any parent could incorporate into their lives, homeschooling or regular schooling." -- Jennifer Lumb
"[T]his isn't just a homeschooling book. It is a guide to parenting." -- Annie @ Bird and Little Bird
From the Inside Flap
Project-based homeschooling combines children's interests with long-term, deep, complex learning. This is an essential experience for children: to spend time working on something that matters to them, with the support of a dedicated mentor.
This book is an introduction and guide to creating the circumstances under which children can teach themselves. It gives parents concrete tips for helping children do challenging, meaningful, self-chosen work.
From setting up a workspace that encourages independence to building a family culture that supports self-directed learning to concrete suggestions for a step-by-step approach to inquiry-based investigation, Project-Based Homeschooling shares techniques for mentoring independent, confident thinkers and learners.
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And that's what project-based homeschooling is. And really, the book should be called project-based learning or leading a project-based life because this is not just for kids and not just for homeschoolers. My son looked at me the other day and asked me what my project is. I had to think about my project, but I was finally able to tell him and now I work on my project while my kids work on theirs.
There is so much practical, useful information in this book. Any parent would benefit from reading it and learning from Pickert about the importance and significance of letting children (and adults) take ownership of their own learning. We can learn so much more when we're invested in the process and when we want to know what is being offered to us.
The most important take-away for me is that project-based learning can be *part* of an overall educational plan and not the whole plan. I was always under the impression that is was the whole enchilada or order Chinese instead. But you can do this and be a classical homeschooler or a Christian homeschooler or an eclectic homeschooler or even an unschooler. Project-based learning works for all kinds of kids and all kinds of homeschools. And not just homeschoolers. This would be great for public or private school kids whose parents want them to take some ownership of their learning. Pickert gives us the tools to be great mentors to our kids. Now we have to do it!
As Homeschool educators, I hope we see ourselves as facilitators of ALL interests and opportunities for learning. By drawing a distinction between "work" and "play," she furthers a problematic conceptual framework that actually ignores real learning. In play, in flow, we fall into that magical place where we are connected, engaged, a part of something larger than ourselves, and in there, real learning, real connections are made. You can't force flow or play, it just happens. It happens while playing with dolls, Legos, or while playing with words.
Sometimes we even need the random. This author counsels to not take random field trips, to try to facilitate connections by grouping experiences. As any experienced thinker knows, sometimes the random is where the “ah ha” moments are. You can’t predict or construct the connections. They just happen. They can't be forced, and sometimes something totally unrelated and random is what is needed to open up the necessary perspective to make a new connection.
Learning happens. It happens every moment. It’s what you do with those experiences that matters, but it’s gravely mistaken to think you need to produce or act for there to be real learning. In fact, this demand for representations shows a lack of trust in the learning process itself. Learners don’t have to be trained animals that produce or show signs. Only a capitalist, factory model of schooling requires this. As home educators, we can free ourselves from such demands and allow children to explore and imagine without demands that create limits. Let them freely “write” plays while they imaginative play with other kids. Why sit them down and write it out? That constipates flow, destroys the imaginative, and puts real constraining limits on the possible.
If you value self-directed learning, then free the learning. Let children be free to learn. Create a culture that values learning through freedom and choice, not through meaningful work.
I am planning on using the classical education model (the Well Trained Mind is a fantastic read if interested) but really want to have intrinsically motivated kids that are passionate about what they're doing, and this book has helped me pull all of that together.