I think I'm reading about five books concurrently, most of them about children, education, brain development, and the pitfalls of peer socialization. Jocelyn just lent me Last Child In The Woods, and I've skimmed the first chapter. I'm also reading about Catholic unschooling, the effect of the new neuroscience on education, systems theory, how to teach the three Rs, attachment theory and parenting.
The book on education, systems theory, and neuroscience (which I'm only a hundred pages into) proposes that our public school system is based on a mechanistic theory of the universe, Newtonian and Cartesian, and also presupposes that education is something done to children and not a collaborative effort between teacher and student. It says that at the core of the education system lie the beliefs that information is produced by experts and more or less programmed into children, and proof of success is the amount the children can regurgitate.The book says that most educational reform fails because instead of trying to change those core beliefs it adopts a 'If it doesn't work, do it harder!' approach. There's a lot about how systems work, and how self-organization in complex systems happen, and I haven't really digested it yet.
I haven't got to the part where they show a clear model for how a new system with new core beliefs would look, but it's churning in my head with the John Holt assertion that children want to learn, and that child-led learning is the best. I'm thinking about freedom, virtue, and prescriptive versus holistic technologies. If education is the formation of character and giving children the ability to learn, awakening wonder, and developing the discipline to manage tasks, develop goals, and follow through, then... then what? How ought this best to be accomplished? Watching Nat and Thomas learning, strewing interesting materials, reading aloud, and spending a lot of hours in the yard seems to be working. Nat is reading and writing phonetically and his math has advanced until he is deliberately writing out equations wrong as 'math jokes'. We've talked a lot about natural sciences, and I am not even a bit concerned about academics. I'm just wondering what path our family will take in the next year. I know Nat and Thomas will both still be at home. It'll always be interesting.