Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three. Confucius

31 May 2017

Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)


     Hi Everyone,

Humanities and Social Sciences is, to me, one of the easiest Learning Areas to incorporate into our daily lives. The nature of homeschooling encourages lots of discussion, learning about and getting out into the world around us. Since the children were quite young they have enjoyed learning about history and the world around us. The Education Department formula for this topic has changed in shape a little but remains relatively stable in that it deals with people, places and things.

     For a few years now we have used the  Story of the World program as a resource. SOTW is written by Susan Wise Bauer in the Classical Education  style.  The following brief account of Classical Education will give a sense of the SOTW program. 

     The Classical Style of education as the name suggests means learning as the Ancient Greeks did, based on the Trivium model of learning. The Trivium consists of three basic stages in learning.
      The first stage is called the Grammar stage because it's laying the foundations for  middle and later schooling. This is done through the learning of facts (phonetic rules,  poems, stories, the basics of foreign languages, birds, animals, people etc). This is not  seen to be a particularly self expressive age and occurs between around 5-9 years of  age. 

      The second stage is the Logic stage because by now most children are ready to ask        analytical questions about why things are the way they are, rather than just accepting  the facts that are presented to them. This is seen as a time when children can use their  faculty of logic to critique and evaluate text, look at reasons behind major historical  events, utilize algebraic reasoning and learn the logic of scientific methods. The logic  stage encompasses the ages when children begin to think abstractly, so often suits  children between the ages of about 10-14 years of age.

      The final stage for a Classical Education is called the Rhetoric stage, and builds on the  first two stages. By the Rhetoric stage, the student is thinking and expressing  themselves with originality and self assurance. At this time, students begin specialising  in what they feel is their preferred direction. This may take the form of specific camps,  workshops, study trips, whatever suits the individual learner. This stage usually begins  at around 15 years of age until the completion of secondary schooling.
       Reference Susan Wise Bauer: What is Classical Education?

      The SOTW books are presented in a narrative style, much like a story book of history with the facts straight.    We often sit around the lounge and I will read the narrative while Jay and Freida draw, do craft or some other relaxing passtime. They will ask a question or comment if something pops into their head. We all love this time and value the process of hanging out as much as anything. There is a companion book of advanced map work, relevant craft/cooking activities and an extended book list as well as stencils which can be scanned for project type activities if you wish. You can really just adjust the material to suit your family, your kids learning styles and abilities. Jay and Freida will often draw a picture related to the story on poster board and write a short response to the story, and on other days they love the map work, it all depends on where we're at.
Scout Gliding Camp
      Another major facet of Jay and Freida's HASS curriculum is Scouts
     Jay started Joey Sea Scouts about six years ago, and Freida a couple of years later, and I can honestly say it has been one of the most enriching communities our children have encountered to this point. The Scout Creed:

                   'Yesterday's Values, Today's Adventures, Tomorrow's Leaders' 

really says it all. The kids have learned respect, community responsibility and discipline while having a blast camping, boating, hiking and playing games at an affordable price....not much to not recommend it really.

      Having said all this, we have been very fortunate to have kind, intelligent Scout leaders, but  this really does seem the norm. The kids are required to wear a uniform which may not  suit some people but my kids don't have an issue with this, they actually seem to enjoy  it as they don't have to wear a uniform any other time. 
A busy bee in our garden
     In addition to this we attend cultural festivals and education days, the children contribute to a charity of their choosing (from their pocket money), and care for their own animals. We grow and actively use vegetables from our garden in cooking. We compost and keep a worm farm. We actively look at waste and how to limit it at home and in the wider environment.

This everyday unstructured learning and responsibility for self, others and the environment is essential to grow compassionate, kind, well balanced adults, in my opinion. 
      Talk soon, Cynthia x