Thursday, November 15, 2007

A System or a Method

Method implies two things-a way to an end, and a step-by-step progress in that way.
A System easier than a Method- A 'system of education' is an alluring fancy;....,because it is pledged to more definite calculable results.

-Charlotte Mason, Home Education pg.8-9

What exactly is the difference between a system and a method? Which one do I need to use in the education of my children at home?

I think the difference between a method and a system as Charlotte Mason refers to them is a little clearer for me since I have a background in the public education system. I taught in a public school kindergarten from 2001-2004. I had as few as 17 students at one time and as many as 21. I was fortunate enough to teach in a school system that was in the top ten in our state in test scores. I say fortunate, because the school system had many resources.

With 21 students in a classroom, using a system is unavoidable. A system looks something like this: I must teach 1... 2... 3.... in this particualar way that I have chosen and mark it off the list as accomplished. I can then quickly access the students for understanding and move on the next item on the list. There is comfort in a system. What I need to do is all layed out in front of me with little boxes for me to check when I am finished.

A method is different in that it gives a goal. My goal is to teach my child to read. The way I go about this goal is left up to my child. If my child cannot move as quickly as I would like I slow to his pace. If a child is learning to read quickly we move ahead building confidence in reading. yet offering challenges. This is what is soooo difficult to do in a classroom. One year I had a kindergarten student reading on a 2nd-3rd grade level. In the same classroom were several non-readers, as well as many reading on a kindergarten level. How in the world do you offer challenges, remediation and teach on grade-level at the same time? I did what I could while working with children in small groups.

Will a system work? Yes, but it doesn't leave much room for children to become passionate about a subject. As soon as this topic has been covered, it's time to move on to the next topic on my checklist.

A method allows children to develop an interest in a particular idea and nourish that idea as much as is needed. A child is making progress toward a set goal, but they way he gets there is more child-directed instead of teacher directed.

I think I would rather my children learn using a method.

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