Vision for Our Learning
Vision for Our Learning Written by -Jenet Erickson
I was half way through 3rd grade when Mom decided to start homeschooling. It was a difficult decision. No one we knew personally was doing homeschool, and it seemed that everyone we did know personally had serious doubts about it. I think Mom even had a slight stomachache about it during the whole first year. But she felt very strongly that it was something we should do – for a whole range of reasons– including her feeling that we just did not have enough time to learn and do the things that were most important. I am so grateful for her courage! The experiences I had during that second grade year, and in the homeschooling years that followed were transformative in my learning.
One of the first things she implemented in our learning at home was daily journal writing. In the years since, I know that this one practice was foundational in our ability to express ourselves in writing. Though a simple practice, it opened the way for well-honed writing skills by laying the necessary foundation of practice in self-expression. It also laid a foundation for self-reflection, thinking and feeling through the lessons of everyday life.
But that wasn’t all she had in mind. She also wanted us to learn to summarize and extract important truths from the thoughtful writing of others. At the time, Mom and Dad subscribed to U.S. News & World Report. Because I had developed an interest at a young age in political issues, particularly issues surrounding the Cold War, she asked me to read an article from the magazine every day and summarize it. To complete the assignment, she asked me each night to share my summary with the family at the dinner table. When I think back, I was far too young for such a task. But the experience exposed me to language and ideas that led further vocabulary and idea development. The daily reporting at the dinner table ensured I had something to share and always spurred more teaching and discussion.
It was some years later when Mom and I both received training in the Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE) curriculum implemented at American Heritage School. As we sat and listened to the profound insights of their methodology, I got a bigger glimpse of Mom’s wisdom and a strong appreciation for what this methodology offered. Mom lit up with excitement as she listened
exclaiming that it was always what she had hoped to do but had not quite known how. This new methodology was grounded in enabling students to discern principles of truth from researching original writing. The skills required were what Mom had worked so hard to help me develop – that of reading, summarizing, and analyzing what principles could be learned. For example, my summary of an article on the national debt (which at that time was a major concern; what would they think now?!) led to discussions at the dinner table about principles of fiscal responsibility, stewardship, and accountability that taught my heart as well as my mind.
In the FACE Curriculum that process became integral to all learning as students continuously go through the process of reasoning principles from the area of study, relating them to the area of study and personal life, and recording them in writing or some other form. In that way the learning process went full circle with the end product being internalization and living the identified principles of truth.
My mom was part of an early pioneer group of homeschoolers who helped prepare the way for all of us who follow. We have more tools than ever to do this great work. I’ve felt particularly grateful for what I have learned from the 4-R Methodology of the Foundation of American Christian Education that embodies the vision Mom had for our learning.