Posted by : Karen Friday, September 21, 2012

I recently attended my first Homeschool Educators Expo here in Cape Town, (a convention for those of you from the north!). The Cape Home Educators did themselves proud with a well organised event, and I was really blown away by what I walked away curricula, but a heart full of knowledge and wisdom.

I walked into the building a little after 8, and left again after 5 - for me not to see the sun for a whole day is saying enough don't you think? It made me think, "Gosh, I really must be a 'nerd' to enjoy doing this!" and truly I was invigorated, energized! I realized so clearly, that I love to learn : feed me knowledge, tell me how to do something, teach me - and I am in my element! I soaked it all up - and if any of you reading this are interested in finding out more about homeschooling, attending the lectures at an expo is a good place to start!

I was also so touched to meet other homeschooling moms - some whom I only know from their profile picture on FB (and if you're a HS mom/dad in the Western Cape you really should be a member -  it's a growing community of like minded folk who are passionate about educating our children), and to be met by folk who read this here blog. It's a little nerve wracking that part - meeting people who know me in so much more detail than I know them! To those of you, who shared how much some of my posts have spoken to you, thank you (again!) for having the courage to do that - it inspires me to keep writing my heart.

I wanted to share a few nuggets I walked away with, as they were light bulb moments for me, and perhaps they will be food for thought for you. As I've said, I think I attended all but three of the lectures, so it was pretty intense! (Please note, not much of what follows are my own original ideas - the ideas communicated here belong to the speakers at the Expo)

  • Somehow homeschooling parents have a great need of security, and so all too often we can focus on the "how" of homeschooling (how am I going to teach Math, what is the best curriculum for language arts, how am i going to teach three children of different ages etc), and not the "why" (for what purpose am I homeschooling?)
  • Too often we can mistakenly focus on the books and not the child, when it comes to choosing a curriculum - I did have a good laugh at myself during one of Martie Du Plessis' lectures, when she outlined learning styles (I am so 'sequential'!). It makes sense to me now how often we can choose a curriculum for ourselves, to make us feel safe and secure rather than one that would suit our child because its learning style is so unfamiliar to us.
  • The current state of education in South Africa sobered me. It is vastly different to the education system I grew up with in Zimbabwe (before our political turmoil) and I was interested to learn this 
Newsweek‘s (16 August 2010) list of the world’s best countries put South Africa at 82nd overall, and ranks our education system 97th out of 100, which is 4th from the bottom. South Africa’s education performance is even ranked below countries like Mozambique, Bangladesh and Iran, states less wealthy or less free. (source)
          Fourth from the bottom in 2010? Seriously? And this is where it ranked last year:
 According to the 2011 annual national assessment figures, the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa 140th out of 144 which is lower than Lesotho and Swaziland. (source) 
  • I'm growing increasingly fascinated by the nature of the Information/Digital Age we are presently in. Let me add here some statistics Inesa Van Rooyen of Neruolink gave in her presentation, (another worthwhile lecture): 
    • information is doubling every 2 years at present, and by 2017 it's estimated it will double every two weeks; 
    • our children have to learn 5 times more the volume of information we did 20 years ago when we were in school; 
    • and finally, one edition of the NY times contains more information than people in the C17 were exposed to in a lifetime.
As a result, we have to help our children to work faster and smarter - working harder (which most schools seem to push) is not going to equip them to cope with this. We have to teach them to out-think, out-learn, out create. I loved the idea that we can work with our brains to increase their fitness - something I'd like to spend more time looking into.
 A few books on this topic were recommended by various speakers: Teaching a Digital Generation - please o please download this PDF and spend some time reading it. It is such weighty food for thought about the reality our children are facing. This book 21st Century Skills also has an excerpt you can download.
  • I loved being reminded by Martie to focus on enjoying learning in these young grades (1-7), and to be more focused from Gr 8 onwards (remember that Karen!). 
  • I was intrigued by Martie's mention of this quote:
We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet 
exist . . . using technologies that haven’t yet been invented . . . 
in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.
 —Richard Riley, Secretary of Education under Clinton
        •  To educate for the C21st and beyond, she recommends we take our traditional  3 R's and times them by the 7 C's : critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, cross cultural, communication, computing, and careers (learning self-reliance and self direction).

        I was also interested in the number of times this cartoon was brought up:

        It was Albert Einstein who said, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."  Seeing it so often last Saturday did make me think about standardised testing in a whole new light, and to critically examine what a Matric or similar qualification is worth...but lest we get too far ahead of ourselves, read this brilliant article for a balanced view of this cartoon.

        So there you go, Friday's food for thought!

        One Response so far.

        1. Jenni C's says:

          Thanks for these nuggets....and "download" links...

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