I said it was a journey, not a quick trip. ;)
This is a synopsis of what I learned from 'Leadership Education, The Phases of Learning' by Oliver and Rachel DeMille.
The Leadership Education was an awesome overview of how human beings learn in all the phases of life. They broke the ages down into 'phases'.
1. Foundational Phases
A. Core Phase, birth to approx. age 8
B. Love of Learning Phase, approx. 8-12
2. Learning Phases
A. Scholar Phase, approx. ages 12-18
B. Depth Phase, college age generally
3. Application Phases
A. Mission, building a family and career
B. Impact, grandparent/retired/changing the world by mentoring others
How succinct is that? And it is so applicable to each age and stage of life. How amazing to go with the flow of how God made us rather then to work against it? And rather then have our final goal be retirement and 'the good life', have it be simply to have more time to mentor and share our hard-earned wisdom with others who are looking to change the world.
A little more detail on the Phases:
They listed 55 ingredients in the Core and Love of Learning Phases. I'll point out some of the details of them that I plan to utilize.
Structure time, but not content. I have found that to work so well with us. Give general blocks and types of things to do and let them move within that framework. I hope to structure our time even more as time goes on. But that is the general format we have been using and that works well for us. So much can be accomplished, using the mentoring format, with this scheduling.
They are keen on simplicity, in the house and schedule. The more free time at home, the better. The less junk, the better. Keep good, quality items around the house for learning, create a 'vacuum' of time when they will naturally reach for those items and let them do the rest.
Family relationships are of utmost importance, as is reading aloud together daily. Here here!
They encourage using 'clubs' and other such outside activities carefully. Do not let them get i the way of the 'vacuum' or family time. They should simply complement both.
They describe the family bookshelf in detail. Placing mismatched books for toddlers on the bottom. The messier the better, as that will catch the little guy's eye. As the shelf gets higher, put appropriate books. I started doing that as we started collecting 'classic's that I needed to read to the kids. It's fun for the kids to look at the 'big shelf' and pick out a book they want me to read to them. It's their choice, so they are more excited to listen to, and they feel 'big' as the books are just out of their reach. It's worked great for us!
They give ideas for creating and implementing regular chores, how to use technology appropriately and how to set up 'classes' for learning necessary life skills.
One thing that really struck me is how much importance they place on getting your own education. It must be done if I am to mentor my own children appropriately. I must stop saying 'do as I say, not as I do'. It's never worked, and it never will! I am determined to get my own scholar education as I take my kids through their core and love of learning phases. I can do it! He considers a true scholar education 5,000-8,000 hours of mentored study of the great classics. Yikes! But if I don't put the effort in, I simply can not expect my children to. Even Deuteronomy 6, the classic parenting text of the OT makes it clear that the parents are to teach the children what they already know. There is no getting around it. It must be done. And I will conquer....
The Core Phase Curriculum: Right and wrong, true and false, good and bad.
Some ingredients for teaching that: example, environment, opportunities, work, play, study, projects, field trips, the library, family room, inspiring parents, mentors, the bookshelf, exploring, freedom, fun, personal attention, family meals, chores, siblings, parents, grandparents, questions, discussions.
That is what I have been trying to teach my children for 5 years now. It's what they can grasp at this age. It's age-appropriate and of utter necessity to learn.
They speak a lot about the transition from love of learning to scholar. This must only happen when the child is ready, and when they have a true passion for learning. It can take a few years before the child is ready to engage in full scholar studies.
As the child transitions into full scholar phase, they relinquish their daily chores, which they know have the skills down-pat, and they transition into full-time, self-lead learning. They generally study 8-12 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, 10-12 months a year. Wow! Imagine how much learning can take place during that time. No other responsibilities except to follow their passions in learning from those who have gone before. Sounds like heaven to me!
This typically leads a child to Depth Stage, generally between 18 and 24 years of age. Adults, but without a lot of responsibilities yet. "The student who has acquired a scholar education is ready to personalize and submit his instruction to a mentor who will provide increased opportunities for study and refinement of skills and knowledge that will allow the student to begin to implement his personal mission." Generally this is college, be it liberal education or more specific training for an intended job/role in society.
The Mission Phase is where a person generally gets married, has a family who he/she raises in their own mentor/classics education, and also where they build up their career. He calls it, building your two towers. Family and career.
The Impact Phase is where the two towers are mostly complete. He gives a list of roles that I thought helpful in understanding that 'phase' of life (that most people look forward to for retiring and letting go of their influences).
1. Mentor: build protegees (I want one!!!!)
2. Scholar: Fill in gaps in your education, and go deeper in your areas of expertise
3. Citizen: Increase freedom
4. Entrepreneur: add value
5. Sentinel: Warn upcoming generations
6. Philosopher: make classics of your own
7. Philanthropist: Selflessly increase happiness
8. Disciple: Let go of baggage and discipline your life
9. Artist: Create Beauty
10. Statesman: Change the world for good
11. Healer: Change the One
12. Elder: Never retire, but get out and serve, serve, serve
12. Grandparent: Leave a legacy