Thursday, October 6, 2011

What does Interest-Led education mean?

From a blog called Interest-Led Learning comes a post including FIFTEEN top blogs for homeschool ideas. The connecting link? All these blogs follow an interest-led lifestyle in different ways and to differing degrees.

So what does interest-led mean in terms of education? I guess it's pretty self-explanatory... except that everyone does it differently. Like the concept of "unschooling," people take this concept and make it truly their own. That's one of the big things I love about homeschooling.

One person might consider their homeschool interest-led because they let their children choose and plan their own class titles (Bohemian History, underwater basket-weaving, or German Language Studies). Others think in order to be truly interest-led, you have to let the kids do it all. Just leave their schedule wide open to explore the world and see where their curiosity takes them.

Being a bit of a hippy at heart, this appeals to me. But if you've read my tabs across the top of this page then you know I'm also deeply in love with classical education philosophy. That means memorizing things during the "Grammar" years (grades 1-4), learning Logic next, and finally Rhetoric to tie it all together. It also includes old books (not text books), heavy doses of literature, and classic languages, both dead and alive (Latin, Greek, Hebrew).

I had fun perusing the links in the article linked above. I found an interesting mix of nomadic hippies and people like me with a curriculum that's supplemented by curiosity-led or interest-led bonuses.

We are currently using Sonlight's P4/5 (preschool for four and five-year-olds), but Gilgamesh will often take a special interest in one idea or another, even something I've only barely mentioned... like the algae in the Berenstain Bears' Big Science and Nature Book. He'll also request to redo things we've already done, like in the same book: "Can we look at the frogs again?"

For math, this is often self-directed or interest-led. He does and is learning place values, addition, and subtraction. But he learns even more when he decides to do addition and subtraction on his own (like when he's playing with his play parking cones, adding and taking away one at a time and using the terminology he learned on starfall).

Art is something I seldom have to plan because he'll find something he wants to do in the books we read or the videos he watches. Someone will fly a kite and he'll say, "Let's make a kite!" Or we'll read in his Dictionary about M words, and he'll say, "I want to make a mask." More frequently, he'll see an idea or picture that inspires a crayon and pencil picture.

Everyone does interest-led so differently. I'm grateful for all the bloggers out there sharing their experiences and resources. It's incredible the wealth of information available for the taking, if I'm just willing and motivated to delve a little. Like I've said before, the homeschool classroom has no walls. Just the world, baby.

How do you translate interest-led learning?

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