Sunday, 22 January 2012

Our Vision

I want to share my vision of education. The following is adapted (edited) from the application I wrote to the New Zealand Ministry of Education to apply for an exemption from being Enrolled at a Registered school...

I have been, and will continue to be the primary educator while my boys are educated at home. I hold a Diploma of Teaching, a Bachelor's Degree of Education, an overseas qualification equivalent to a post graduate diploma in neuro-functioning and it's implication on learning, and I hold a certificate in Bridge directing at the club level. I am well informed and practiced at delivering successful, individually tailored educational programmes for a diverse range of learners from Early Childhood through to Adulthood during my years as a teacher, and now as a private consultant for individuals, parents, and staff groups.
My husband holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, and a postgraduate Diploma with Honours in Strategic Studies. He has a talent for game design, which was first recognised through his internationally published and critically acclaimed Board game “Endeavor” in 2009. He now works as an independent consultant for game design companies, focusing on game mechanics and play balance.
My boys share many interests, however they have different areas of strength, and it is a delight to see the brothers working collaboratively, learning to utilise their strengths, supporting their developing skills, and sharing experiences. They are also learning to respect each others, at times disparate, needs such as K's desire for continual company, and T's desire and need for moments of solitude.

The term 'curriculum' is broad and undefined for the purpose of the application for an exemption to be enrolled at a registered school.
The New Zealand Curriculum Framework is not legally required to be implemented in the pursuit of an education for children who are exempt from being enrolled at a registered school.
For the purpose of tour homeschooling philosophy, 'Curriculum' will follow the definition specified in the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum document Te Whaariki (1996) as
“the sum total of experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children's learning and development.
The purpose of the curriculum is for each of my boys to grow up as a competent and confident learner and communicator, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in his sense of belonging, and in the knowledge that he makes a valued contribution to society.
Society is changing at a rate that is heretofore unknown. With the exponential increases in technological and scientific knowledge and it's application, it is unrealistic to project the knowledge today's children will need in order to be able to fulfill the objective of the curriculum. It is however reasonable to project that certain skills will put them in good stead to be able to contribute to future society.
The skills that we see as crucial to an education that will adequately prepare our boys for the future are
  1. To be aware of the impact physical and emotional well-being has on the brain and body's ability to function in himself and others, including and not limited to
    1. nutrition
    2. illness
    3. sleep
    4. stress
    5. fitness
  2. To acquire knowledge through a range of methods, including and not limited to
    1. asking questions
    2. reading
      • reference material
      • poetry
      • literature
      • dairies
      • biographies
    3. listening
      • orators
      • music
      • podcasts
      • lectures
    4. watching
      • films
      • documentaries
      • dramas
      • dancers
      • nature
    5. attending
      • paying attention
      • being present
    6. experimenting
      • playing with
        • materials
        • objects
        • tools
        • Ideas
  3. To recognise the diversity of sources of knowledge available, including and not limited to
    1. peers
    2. books
    3. libraries
    4. institutions
    5. documentaries
    6. experts in their field
    7. the internet
    8. Hands on experience
      • participation
      • experimentation
    9. community - immediate and extended
    10. observation
    11. organisations
    12. cultural
    13. numeric
  4. To understand and identify the different styles of knowledge available, including and not limited to
    1. fact
    2. theory
    3. belief
    4. hypothesis
    5. philosophy
    6. opinion
  5. To critically evaluate knowledge and understand that the source and style of information can impact the presentation of the knowledge.
  6. To disseminate his understanding of knowledge through various means, including and not limited to
    1. statements
    2. questions
    3. writing
    4. debate
    5. disagreeing
    6. drawing
    7. painting
    8. photography
    9. drama
    10. music
    11. song
    12. story
  7. To be familiar with a range of technology and media used for information, communication, and expression, including and not limited to (some of the current resources available pictured above)
    1. pen and paper
    2. scissors
    3. paint brushes
    4. clay
    5. paint
    6. chalk
    7. pastels
    8. glue
    9. cellotape
    10. staplers
    11. card
    12. printers
    13. scanners
    14. photography
    15. video
    16. telephones
    17. computers
    18. tablets
    19. gaming consoles
    20. keyboards
    21. numbers
    22. letters
    23. words
    24. equations
The traditional school curriculum is delivered in a techni-linear manner. i.e. the teacher determines what is to be taught, when and how, with pre-determined key objectives set by the State (or other regulating body) that students will be measured against.
We will be delivering the curriculum in a deliberative manner. A deliberative curriculum mediates it's delivery to accommodate the learner's strengths, interests, abilities, previous experiences and knowledge, and builds upon these foundations. A deliberative curriculum further mediates according to environment and the needs of the day, week and immediate community, most notably the family, and as well as the larger community in which our family is a participating member. It is a student -led, student-centred curriculum.
The intent of a deliberative curriculum delivery style is for active participation of all family members, that incorporate individual needs as well as those of the family as a unit, that can be built upon and adapted as family and individual needs , interests, abilities and circumstances change.
What this will look like in day to day application:
  1. a cooked breakfast for all family members , to ensure optimal nutritional intake in order to function fully throughout the day
  2. active participation in maintaining a healthy home and learning environment by a pro-scribed number of household jobs to be done by each family member determined by age and ability
    1. The actual activities can be chosen by individuals on the day from the cards that are laid out in the morning
  3. key phrases utilised by all family members to express needs , including and not limited to
    1. I need some space
    2. I need some quiet
    3. I would like some help with _________
    4. I don't feel safe when __(behaviour / activity)___ happens
    5. I need to finish this, then I'll be able to __(help, listen to, come to)__you
    6. I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Could you repeat that please
  4. key areas /spaces determined for particular activities
  5. emotional, and physical needs prioritised as a brain under emotional or physical stress is unable to learn efficiently
  6. ready and easy access to food and drink at all times
  7. explanations given whenever feasible/required as to underlying reasons for routines, events, and needs, as they occur
  8. The day's planned activities, such as those that are organised by the wider home school community are known by all family members, by being documented on the monthly planner that is located on the noticeboard in the main family area.
  9. cues given as to what to prepare for the day's activities (such as packing drinks, change of clothes, swim gear...)
  10. opportunities for family meetings to discuss the coming month's plan, as well as family or individual needs, interests, challenges, and plan how to address them. Initially this will be adult led, as the boys learn the processes, The boys will be invited to contribute though questions, with the expectation that as they grow older and more competent, that they will volunteer more solutions, initiate family meetings when they have concerns etc.
  11. opportunities to pursue personal interests and activities.
  12. A happy, productive and relaxed atmosphere.
  13. Respectful, reciprocal, relationships amongst family members.
As a student centred curriculum, that we have defined as
“the sum total of experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children's learning and development”
it is important to ensure that a wide range of experiences are offered for the boys to engage in. The content of the curriculum will be defined in the first instance by the physical environment of our home and the social relationships that exist within our nuclear family unit, in the second instance by the routines and regular events that constitute family life, and will be extended by those regular routines and events that constitute the homeschooling community and the extended family. The curriculum will further be defined by the the wider local community in which we live, and the support that is available within the neighbourhood, the wider community, and national legislature and funding. The deliberative delivery style of a curriculum allows for multiple informal and meaningful learning opportunities as the learner interacts and responds to the physical, intellectual, lingual, emotional and social environments that are encountered on a daily basis. In short, learning occurs regularly as the curriculum is applied every day of the year.
As the primary care-givers and educators in the boys lives, it is imperative that we ensure a diverse and balanced curriculum that will continue to feed their current thirst for knowledge, and encourage them to take on new skills and activities. We will do this by providing in the first instance a home environment that encourages questions,investigations and research, we will provide this by actively role-modeling these traits while engaged in our own projects, by supporting their enquiries with considered, informed answers, and honestly acknowledging when we are uncertain, and undergoing the steps of formal research alongsidethem. Specifically, Googling the answer, or going to the library and accessing the Dewey filing system to locate the required books.
The home's physical environment is presented in such a manner as to invite enquiry by having accessible a range of media and references that are developmentally appropriate for the boys' abilities and reflect the interests of the family.
The wider community plays a vital role in the delivery of our curriculum. Those social activities organised by homeschooling groups, provide opportunities for the boys to engage in large group activities as well as some cultural and academic areas that we may feel less confident in. There are a range of activities available for older children that we will eagerly participate in when the boys are developmentally ready to participate.
Curriculum Coverage of the First Year
The Education Act stipulates that the MoE must be satisfied that our children will be taught at least as regularly and as well as he would be if he were to attend a registered school. We have already stipulated in the preceeding paragraphs, that our curriculum is applied daily, and therefore regular learning occurs. The Education Act does not stipulate that the New Zealand Curriculum Framework be implemented.
A detailed description of what a deliberative curriculum entails,is discussed above. Some of the routines that surround it's implementation, were included. The wider community aspect of the curriculum are addressed in the following sections including lists of community resources and social contact opportunities.
While we understand that the MoE tends to group learning by year, a necessary structure to ensure children who attend registered schools are learning the basic skills and knowledge required to function in todays society, as they move from one teacher to the next each year, our boys will have the privilege of having the same teachers their whole life. This eliminates the need for learning to be compartmentalised by age, subject or other artificial structures required to facilitate the school learning processes.

We are currently limited to our access of the internet, due to an insufficient supply of copper cable for ADSL broadband in our area. Since our arrival in the middle of September, we have been monitoring the progress of the workers who have been laying fibre optic cable in our street. Currently the anticipated date of broadband being available is mid December 2011. I have been calling our ISP on a regular basis to request service, and I anticipate that by the start of the 2012 school year, we will once again have full access to the world wide web and the multitudes of resources available within it. This process has presented us with an excellent opportunity to learn more about how the internet works, and different means of data transfer processes
Our home also contains a good foundation of educational resources, including and not limited to
  1. reference books targeted at young children
  2. software
  3. cuisanaire rods
  4. workbooks
  5. a literacy saturated environment
  6. art supplies including and not limited to
    1. pencils
    2. paper
    3. scissors
    4. glue
    5. paint
These will be built upon as the boys grow and learn, in part funded by the small stipend provided by the Ministry of Education for this purpose.
Use of Environment and Community resources
Membership at Auckland Libraries
Member of Auckland Home Educators Group
Member of Wellington Home Educators Network (WHEN)
Member of Waitakere Home Educators Group
Member of West Gate Home Educators Group
Member of Online e-mail support groups:
Home Educators Non-Christian (NZ)
Positive Parenting
HANDLE® Screeners
Social Contact
Homeschooling Group Activities:
Wednesdays (term time):
1 hour Physical Education with West Wave instructors and “Waitakere home schoolers
Social Swimming at West Wave, following the P.E.
Fridays (term time):
sports and cultural activities at Massey Leisure Centre and Library, with “Westgate Home schoolers
Every second Monday (all year):
Trip to a playground, beach or reserve in the West Auckland area with other 'unschooling' homeschoolers.
Termly / Annually:
Special trips and experiences organised by homeschoolers for the homeschooling community including and not limted to
  1. Art workshops at Lopdell House, an art gallery located in Titirangi
  2. Ice-Skating
  3. Picnics
  4. Museum
  5. MOTAT
  6. Camp
Family and Small Group Outings and activities.
Tuesdays (term time):
Interactions with other Dutch families at the Titirangi Dutch school
Social visit with friends of the family, on an informal, semi-regular, rotating basis
Playdates as and when required and/or available
Assessment and Evaluation of Progress
The primary means of evaluation will be instantaneous and informal, This will occur through our continual communications, where the understandings that either boy has gained will become clear through his statements, questions, and comments. In the event that they have demonstrably misunderstood, there is opportunity for immediate correction through the respectful recipracol dialogue that we engage in as a family. Other means of evaluation may include and not limited to
  1. Concrete Work dated and filed
    1. art
    2. worksheets
    3. writing
  2. Abstract work Photographed or souvenirs collected, dated and filed
    1. block construction
    2. field trips
    3. expeditions
  3. Filed work reviewed monthly or as needed.
  4. Peer evaluation through informal and informal discussion with
    1. extended family
    2. other homeschooling parents
    3. extended social network
  5. self-reflective evaluation
    1. initially applied by the adults and modelled through open-ended reflective questioning
    2. eventually applied by the boys as they grasp the concepts
  6. action research cycle – applied informally
We have a vested interest in our boys doing well in life. We currently support them emotionally and financially. We care for their needs, and we eagerly anticipate the time that they will be able to be self-supporting.
During the early and primary years, we will not engage in the external evaluation methods that schools use, as we will have in depth, informal qualitative evidence of their progress. I have the knowledge of developmental stages and phases, and the accompanying optimal windows of learning for various skills and practices. We will explore appropriate external evaluative methods as required and avaialble in their senior schooling years, in order to facilatate their pursuit of future career and interests.
We anticipate that the nature of kour boys education, that they will flourish physically, intellectually, lingually, emotionally and socially. In the unlikely event that we notice that either son may need extra support or opportunities in developing the skills and learning dispositions required for functioning in todays and tomorrows society, we will enquire after the appropriate means of getting the required support, and specialised skills through the various support structures available , including and not limited to
The Ministry of Education
Auckland Home Educators
Westgate home schoolers
Waitakere home schoolers
Under the heading of Broad Curriculum, we introduced our deliberative curriculum, and indicated that this would be applied daily. This would be irrespective of the school week, term or year, as the curriculum will be an integral part of Life. Compare this to the nature of a school classroom, with the teacher to student ratio, and the administrative details teachers are required to carry out on a daily basis. Add to this the time time a teacher spends on the revision of previous work,as well as classroom and behaviour management, frequently results in the average teacher spending less than 10 minutes per week teaching new material to their students. There are 40 school weeks in a year. Of those 40 weeks, one can reasonably expect that with illness, public holidays, teacher only days, special events at school, and other circumstances, that the average junior primary student would attend school 34 weeks per year. This equates 340 minutes of learning in a year for the average early primary student. That is less than a minute per day in a full year. The Education act requires that students exempt from attending a registered school, must be taught at least as regularly as those that do. I calculate that at the current level of engaged learning, that is occurring at home, we exceed this.

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