Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Depth vs Breadth

I wanted to write down a quick note about the planning "big picture", in case I forget it.

I'm looking at all these planning sheets I'm writing out, and trying to remember that this is supposed to be a matter of "setting feet in a wide room" not locking the feet into a treadmill. Ah, the old balance between preparation and exploration.

Anyway, the year is divided into nine months with approximately 3 weeks per month (12-15 days). I am thinking of trying to divide the various lesson plans into "topics" to focus on for each month.

Though I don't do well with unit studies, I do seem to plan better with a sort of "theme" approach that allows me to prioritize my goals.

So for example, for the first month I have:

  • Math --Properties of Numbers
  • Religion -- Salvation History -- creation and pre-flood
  • US History -- exploration & discovery
  • Latin -- review of vocabulary and grammar from LC1
  • Logic -- I forget
I don't even have writing, music, science, literature, handicrafts or any supplements in there yet it feels packed already.

For our family, one of the problems in the past with a CM-approach has been the feeling of disconnectedness across the curriculum. Yes, I know that children make their own connections. But the way my children naturally work is to focus on one or two areas at a time.

This week I was trying to read across the curriculum myself. I was reading Paul Johnson's "History of the American People", Charlotte Mason's "Philosophy of Education", "The Language of God" by Francis Collins (science-related), SAT algebra and geometry (with Clare), and something else, I forget what. I almost wiped myself out, and I am an adult, and most of these were only moderately difficult material -- not more difficult than what a high school junior or senior would do. I think I have to acknowledge that for the children -- Kieron, specifically -- it is going to be difficult to cover such a wide range.

If I have a general sense of what I want to focus on I can handle it more loosely. This doesn't work well with strict syllabi, but I can still collect different resources and pull in different things as necessary.

The Ignatian concepts of lectio cursiva and lectio statataria come in handy here. In the past I've usually picked one or two topics in a given time period to focus on more deeply and let the others stand subordinate to the main thing.

1 comment:

  1. I tried CM's approach to reading widely. I think I had two "hard" books and two "easy" books. I too couldn't keep it up. It was hard to follow the flow of the books even after narrating to my dh & keeping a notebook. I'm going to experiment with adding one book at a time. I hope to be sensitive to my child's need to explore something in depth. Probably a review every month with an eye on the overall plan for the year. Then again my children are very young and planning for one child is much easier than several. Thanks for another insightful post.