Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do You Draw Out or Cram In?

If any of you follow me on facebook, you know that I’ve been enjoying Mark Batterson’s new book, Primal. He mentioned something that I think homeschool parents should consider. He said that the Latin word for education means to “draw out”.

So why do so many curriculums seem to base their premise on cramming in? Memorize dates, fill in the blanks, cram it in, spit it out. I feel fairly certain that most of that sort of learning my kids did in high school and middle school, they had to relearn (no, make that re-cram) in college.

Why is that? I think it’s because such teaching methods squelch natural curiosity that God placed in all of us. A list of facts hardly stimulates us or makes us wonder or prompts us to ask why. Discovering some of those facts ourselves by looking into a microscope, mixing chemicals, or dissecting a fish, just might stir some curiosity.

A by-product of the stimulated curiosity will be to wonder at the marvelous creativity of God. How did He conceive of the shapes, textures, and colors of an underwater coral reef? Who but God could have thought of the idea of atoms bonding or reacting together? Only the One who is The Word could produce the complexities and beauties of our language that gives us masterpieces of our poets and hymn writers. If you want to stir your children to wonder and praise, unleash their curiosity.

Well, don’t they need to know when the Treaty of Versaille was signed? I can do a two-second search with Google and find that out if I need it.  I’d rather spark their interest in why it led to another war. Or instead of the traditional history textbook, pick a period in history and let them read whole biographies of the men and women of that era. My son loved to read historical biographies. When we took a trip to Yellowstone one summer, he became our tour guide telling us about the mountain men and Indians of the area. He learned these things more out of his pleasure reading time than the textbooks.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying certain “tools” should be neglected. Drill the multiplication facts, but even that can be fun. Turn it into a race or sing them or say them while jumping rope. I believe grammar tools and math tools will aid your children in following their curiosity.

What I’m suggesting is that we quit trying to educate by force-feeding, and begin to draw out their curiosity. Homeschool families are in a unique position to do this. I believe you children will not only learn more, but will also learn to love learning—and that can last a lifetime.


  1. Albert Einstein said that he didn't understand why a person would memorize things that he could look up in a book. He thought people should use that brain power to come up with something new that wasn't already written down somewhere. Imagine if he'd had an iphone!

  2. Wonderful post! So many children are excited about starting school, but by 3rd or 4th grade the joy is gone. Why? Your article is full of good ideas for holding onto the joy of learning.

  3. Thanks, Lynn. Help us spread the word!