St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teaching Tuesday

I was talking with a friend this past weekend, who also homeschools her children, and we were discussing how our children learn technology, or not, through homeschooling.  It was a good discussion topic for sure.  We reminisced on how we learned to type at our Catholic schools on old manual (Royal) typewriters.   I pondered, that by the time I graduated, we were using electric IBM typewriters…big typewriters for sure.  Slowly but surely, electronic word document machines and regular computers took over. I used the WANG computer system and IBM Selectratype the first big secretarial job I landed working for the governor at the capitol in SLC Utah.   This was so monumental considering I lived during the time that blow dryers came onto to the market, and 8 track tapes…well, I’m sounding like I’m dating myself for sure! 

As a child of the 60s, 70s, 80s …I latched onto the technology as it became available.  If it wasn’t necessary for me to possess it, then there was no need to learn it.  But in the job market, my secretarial skills were often based on the most efficient equipment.  And in many professions today, that hasn’t changed.

I feel our children learn in the same way.  There is no doubt that regular keyboard typing skills can be learned the old fashioned way…with instruction at the keyboard, any keyboard…you can use any older computer that is still in working condition, or regular typewriter that is propelled by keyboard, and a touch-type method instruction booklet, CD, or instructional source.  Just knowing how to properly place the fingers for touch type, and practicing drills, and timing for typing speed is the mode of learning the method.  Very simple, and very usable…still….today.

Aren’t we humans amazing at adapting, latching on and progressing with what we are given?  We certainly figure it out!


Ok, but…the truth is you don’t really need any fancy technology to homeschool your children.  In fact you don’t need a computer at all, unless you are doing on line schooling at home, and if you are, the computer is given to you because it is generally public school on line. What you do need is a willing teaching heart of your own tribe, and the basic materials to impart knowledge.  My mind goes back to Laura Berquist’s talks on curriculum from scratch basically, and thelost tools of learning.”[1] That you likely have things in your home already that you can begin teaching your children with.  For instance, a bible or catechism, literature books. So, let’s say you can start to teach your children with very little curriculum or technology.  It’s true.  In fact, to produce good thinkers, critical thinkers and ethical character development, you don’t need technology.

Let’s face it, great men and woman that came before us learned how??Considering my son Mark and I just studied about Noah Webster [2] and how he wrote the first textbook (Blue Back Speller), consider there were no books other than a Primer, and the Bible…. certainly no technological advances. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the standards taught by 2 or 3 books.  American children had no American textbooks. But…giving the students the desire to learn, the love of what was in those few books and the love of learning overall,  an active learning ability (not passive, as in spoon fed the information continually)…is key to educating them for life.

In a word, I still like to do it the old fashioned way.  Going from child to child and helping them along with their lesson.  Gathering them together at first, for lessons that can be done together, having them sit at table together, then sending them off to their quiet areas to complete other work, as I come and check on them.  Reading together, taking turns, discussion, comprehension, re-telling, copy-work, and investigative/observation lessons are all available to do with good literature. 

Today, my older children who were taught through the Mother of Divine Grace methodology/philosophy are doing well as active engaged learners at the college levels.  They have taken courses at college for pleasure that are challenging, for further learning, just because they “like” to learn, they thirst for knowledge.  For them, being liberally educated isn’t about technology or even career, as much as it is about :”learning”, being educated – saturated in all the wonderful knowledge of histories, the arts, literature, writing, sciences, philosophy and religion….it is showing in their chosen majors and minors,  they can’t quite seem to get enough of being educated.  It is wonderful to see them blossoming and growing in intellectual knowledge…which will help lead them to whatever vocation it is God has planned for them.  


[1]The Lost Tools of Learning, by Dorothy Sayers

[2] We learned about Noah Webster from Abeka publications, 3rd grade history text, Our American Heritage. Nicely done biographical sketches.  Yesterday we read the lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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