Wednesday, May 5, 2010

what are your goals?

one of the things i had to do, back when i was homeschooling sarah, was figure out what i wanted to teach and how i wanted to teach it. as per the franklin planner school of thought (and steven covey et al), the best way to figure out the details of your plan is to figure out the broad principles. then the things you need to do to achieve your principles become clearer.

i was reminded of this yesterday when i read in alfie kohn: "i can think of no better use of 15 minutes for any of us who are parents or teachers than pausing to think about -- and even to list on paper -- the long term goals we have for our children. what would we like them to be able to do, to want to do, to feel, to be like in the years to come?"

since i didn't seem to have time for all the academic things i wanted to get done. or i had time, but the students were SO resistant. so i had to figure out what i wanted from their education.


  1. that 15 minute idea is interesting at first sight. but I have trouble thinking abt what I want them to be in 15 yrs (cause I have no control of that really) and how do I connect my fantasy for what they will be like to my daily plans in the now?

  2. so i started very basically in terms of my goals for my children. what do i want for them? (one thing that i found useful to think about is to imagine a family on a self-sustaining farm. they could make a living and wouldn't need to know all the things that are "popular" in our society. so as human beings, what do i want to give them in terms of an education?).

    i decided i wanted them to be functional adults.

    number one: able to make a living. that means a) be responsible workers. ie they should have the ability to concentrate and the maturity to show up regularly and follow through on their responsibilities. b) they need a basic education that would make them marketable, either able to get into college or train for a trade. that means basic reading, writing, and math.

    number two of being a functional adult: my next priority in their education was that they should be able to sustain healty and emotionally satisfying relationships. that means that i treat them respectfully and model problem solving, and we have straightforward communication.

    since that is my second priority in their education, it means that "education" in the academic sense will take a backseat to activities that promote it. (which is a bit of a struggle, but having this as a clear principle in raising them is so useful to me in keeping my priorities straight and my educational focus).

    third are my torah priorities. i would like to have children who are not idolators nor prone to an idolatrous worldview. regarding skills, i want them to be capable of reading torah and mefarshim if they are so inclined as adults. (for boys i will have to spend some time thinking in terms of torah she'baal peh). i want to ideally cover pshat of chamisha chumshei torah. i want them to know how to daven and to understand what they are saying. not as essential, but nice, would be fluency in writing and speaking hebrew. after that, navi. (halacha comes up in daily life). (i had books on zionism and jewish history which nobody seems to be interested in).

    so based on my main priorities (marketability and mature responsibility), i make sure they can read, write and do basic math. then i try hard not to abuse them. then i picked chumash to focus on.

    then, periodically, i do other things more haphazardly. like once in a couple of months, we can do some grammar. and that's in addition to doing whatever comes up, answering questions, and trips.