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Wilma
03-23-2011, 02:12 PM
We are having a debate in planning co-op next year. Many of the teachers are finding open ended unit studies difficult to implement in co-op because of the time they involve. If you are not creative, it stinks, and the material is only as good as the person implementing it. We have one mom who is not happy about that. Her arguments and our counter arguments could go on and on, so I'll spare you that. I was researching this and I came across an article written by a Christian homeschooler I am familiar with but generally don't pay much attention to. But this article was really good. She was making the case for religious texts, which we arent' looking at for co-op, but the idea is still the same. (She also discussed that her family doesn't participate in sports which would not go over well here.) There is a huge group here that hates texts and is all Charlotte Mason. There seems to be a cult of personality surrounding the leader, and I think this mom is buying into it. My ADHD child loves textbooks; they are predictable, systematic, and she knows exactly what is expected of her.

Anyway, back to that article, I found this portion really spoke to me.

It is common to pick up a homeschooling book or magazine to discover it is speaking negatively about the use of textbooks. We are told we are creating a "school-at-home" atmosphere by using books, something they say no homeschooler should do. In the chapter or article, homeschoolers will be encouraged to make their schools fun and enticing so their children will enjoy learning. They are told that their children will naturally want to learn if the schooling is directed toward the areas of the child's interest. We hear about the importance of reading whole books to our children rather than textbooks. All of this appeals to our motherly desire for our children to be happy. In the process, though, it often, perhaps inadvertently, puts a great burden of guilt on a mom who doesn't choose to homeschool like this.

Steve and I have realized that we have a different philosophy for our homeschool than many of these other homeschool authors apparently have. We want our homeschool to be a vehicle to prepare our children for life. This life that we envision for our children when they are adults will entail diligence and perseverance. As adults, they will often be called upon to learn something that isn't particularly interesting to them. Even if something they learn catches their attention, the educational aspect of the topic will most likely not be exciting or enticing. (Emphasis mine)

dbmamaz
03-23-2011, 02:21 PM
Again, I feel there is no one answer. This feels just like the 'phonic sacred cow' thread. Some kids and parents hate textbooks and prefer to wander wherevery their curiosity may take them. Some kids and parents prefer an orderly, rigorous, book-based education. And there are a million variations in between. I have used college textbooks, i have used singapore textbooks, Joy Hakim's books . . . we use T4L, Khan academy, netflix . . . we play games to review some subjects . . .. and i keep a schedule. Whatever works for you and yours is what you should be using.

As for a co-op . . i cant tell you. I tried to get in at the start of one, and had a personality difference and it didnt work.

Its just different styles, different values, no right or wrong answer.

Teri
03-23-2011, 02:42 PM
We have no textbooks in our house. I feel it is the best way to avoid bias...religious or otherwise.
There is nothing magical about a textbook. There is so much available online now, that is make them seem even more obsolete.

sdvance
03-23-2011, 02:46 PM
That portion of the article speaks to me, too. While I want to instill a love of learning in my children, there are times when you must learn things that you don't find particularly exciting, especially later in life. While not the only materials we use, I will always use some textbooks in teaching our children. I think learning from a textbook is an invaluable tool they will need when they are in college.

BrendaE
03-23-2011, 03:54 PM
Oj.. one of the reasons I dont put up photos of our classroom is because there are books stacked everywhere ... all the time... no matter how much effort I seem to put into organizing it all. I would say 60-70% of them are textbooks. College ones, high school ones, grade school ones. On the other hand we use the internet extensively. Our walls are covered with posters (school kinds) in all the rooms... and it looks like... a school exploded in here...

If we ever lose power to a solar flare for a few months.. at least we will still have the books! I guess some where along the way... we just ended up using every method.

Plus.. books smell good :D

inmom
03-23-2011, 03:54 PM
We are having a debate in planning co-op next year. Many of the teachers are finding open ended unit studies difficult to implement in co-op because of the time they involve. If you are not creative, it stinks, and the material is only as good as the person implementing it. We have one mom who is not happy about that. Her arguments and our counter arguments could go on and on...[/I]

I'm totally sympathizing about your comments about the co-op and planning. Yes, the material is only as good as the teacher/implementer. We've had some totally great co-op topic ideas, but the teaching execution was quite poor. I think a textbook as a spine is a totally legitmate option in this case. Being homeschoolers, many of us often use textbooks, then supplement. I personally find textbooks fine, if it is what works.

I hope you and your co-op are able to come to an agreement. We are leaving ours for similar reasons--nothing personal, just differences in educational opinion.

inmom
03-23-2011, 03:56 PM
Plus.. books smell good :D

Brenda: My daughter would LOVE you. She rates books not only on content but also on smell! Too funny.

dbmamaz
03-23-2011, 06:59 PM
dont smell good to me . . . too much dust. and when they get musty?

yeah, well, my allergies are killing me . ..

farrarwilliams
03-23-2011, 09:13 PM
Old book is my favorite and my best smell, as Lola would say.

So, let me get this straight... Wilma, you're pro-textbook (at least sometimes) while the rest of your co-op is anti-textbook but pro-living books?

When you pit a textbook against living books, I feel like the living books should smack them down. I've only very rarely met a "textbook" that I thought was really well-written and engaging. I know what you're saying about how sometimes learning is just not that fun, but still necessary and we shouldn't be made to feel like we have to be "fun!" all the time. But I do think that every topic worth learning has something engaging about it, something that's thought-provoking and interesting, at least to some learners and that people deserve books that are well-written. One of the things about Charlotte Mason's conception of living books that really speaks to me is the idea of voice and authorship in writing. I think it's hard to have engaging writing without that and the vast majority of textbooks just don't have it.

But, that said, I think textbooks have a place as a spine or an outline of learning. Especially if teachers are struggling to find an organizational structure or teach an appropriate curriculum, a textbook is a back up for that - a way to ensure that important bases are covered. And I think the word "textbook" can mean different things. Is Story of the World a textbook? Is The Elements of Style a textbook? Is The Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol. 1 a textbook? Is The Usborne Science Encyclopedia a textbook?

MarkInMD
03-23-2011, 11:23 PM
I like the idea of textbooks for the things that are fundamental, like math and language arts, especially. There are lots of things about those subjects that most kids won't find "fun," but most of us agree need to be dealt with and brought to a certain level of competency. However, when it comes to something like science, which both of our kids are highly interested in, I'm much more inclined to free-wheel it, because that's a subject that I feel should cater to our kids' interests in the elementary years. They have such strong feelings about science that I want that to always be something they see as the best part of the day from as early on as possible. Sure, there are things that we'll cover anyway, whether the kids are interested or not, like the human body (I don't think Hurricane cares much for biology), just because there's stuff you need to know, but again, I don't know that I'd go the textbook route over the living book route. This could change once middle school and high school roll around, but I can't as yet project that far ahead.

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
03-24-2011, 08:16 AM
The use of textbooks is a very personal decision. Some kids do great with them as they really do need the structure that goes along with their use. And on the other side some kids do not do so well with them. they do so much better as a free thinker and learner.
So it really is what is going to work best for your child.

higgledypiggledy
03-24-2011, 02:54 PM
Plus.. books smell good :D[/QUOTE]

I concur, I LOVE the smell of books. Any books. Not to mention the very satisfying tactile sensation of turning pages and closing the book at the end of an affair with it.

Stella M
03-29-2011, 10:23 PM
I think everyone can guess what I'm going to say about textbooks :) But I won't b/c I feel like I've been on the CM cheerleading squad quite a lot lately. Personally, I wouldn't send my kids to a textbook based co-op class but really, it's up the the person teaching. If you are giving up your time to teach other people's children, you've got the right to do it your way. I don't know that CM really lends itself to co-op myself. Maybe the unhappy co-op moms can lead a nature hike while the textbook moms teach the class.

I do just have to say...because obviously I can't just shut up and leave it alone!...that some subjects would lend themselves more to a textbook approach than others. I personally wouldn't include LA in that bunch.

Ann, is there room for compromise in the choice of subject ? Maybe everyone could agree on a more textbooky approach for a more textbooky subject.

Martha
03-29-2011, 10:43 PM
Not all texts are poo. Some do just what they need to do: convey a large amount of general information on subject in a fairly straight forward logical manner.

I don't think it is either texts or living books. I function quite well mixing them. A text as a spine, a general introduction of the topic main points. Some living books along the way to add some depth.

Also, as a mother of many, there are years when I want to go deeper in some areas more than others. The occasional text allows me to not ditch one area completely while we go deeper in another area. Or maybe there is a child who just is not passionate about the subject and prefers a "just the facts ma'am" text. They are still learning and might even be learning more as it meets their learning goal.

Personally, I've always disliked most texts bc I felt they were too vague for my curiosity and all the glitz and splash was highly distracting for my very visual self.

Stella M
03-30-2011, 01:36 AM
I don't think it's about exciting ( non-textbook ) vs non-exciting ( textbook ) or even interest led vs directed. CM isn't particularly interest led anyway.

To me, using a non-textbook approach is about the relationship of student to author. I blogged about it just now so I won't repeat myself here.

Again, I think the co-op teacher gets to choose how she teaches. If it doesn't suit the mouthy mama, well, bad luck to her. And I don't personally mind who uses what for themselves!

Rereading the article again I do mind the assumption that non-textbook learning is somehow pandering to our kids and not helping them learn real life skills. CM, for example, stays away from textbooks, but it's every bit as rigourous as a textbook education. Textbooks are not the only way to challenge or prepare a child. I even think that unschooling, done well, can be rigourous. So I guess to me the article is putting non-textbook approaches into an false adversarial position with textbook use.

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
03-30-2011, 06:14 AM
ok sorry I had to come back in on this one and since the kids are still in bed I figured why not.
Textbooks are great as a resource or a starting point. However they are very limited to only the material that are in them.
You know spelling and language arts even all you really need for these subjects is the textbook. However if you are going to teach your child you will need more than that. For math you need things for them to count, measure, etc. Science is a whole other ball game. The textbook is only a guide and you need to have them make things and actually study. I frankly do not like science books as they are very limited and lets face it twisted. I would much rather have my kids do a project for themselves than read something that someone wants them to believe. So science is a little harder and takes more time to set up. But in the end well worth it. At my kids age group science and art tend to go together. For now at least. Social Studies is a little different though. This is where we have issues in finding things to do. So we go out to the library and get books that teach about other cultures right now. In them they usually have a small history, and a story. Than we look for something to do with each culture. This will have us making something. For us making a special food dish is easiest. We can all get in the kitchen and cook following a recipe of course. And the girls will sometimes put together a short play about the people that we are learning about. This usually has me making an outfit for each of them though.
So I am not against textbooks I just feel that they are better used as a guide more than a whole.

Teri
03-30-2011, 08:40 AM
I can't recall a co-op class that has been taught at our co-op that USED a text. I am trying to wrap my head around the absolute need for one in a class.
We also have a lot of diverse learning levels within age groups, so we try to avoid using a specific reading level (we have 8 year olds who read at a high school level and 8 year olds that do not read at all). To me, a textbook approach would pigeonhole a class into a very specific level.
Why does using a text make it so much easier? Are they reading the text in class? That doesn't sound terribly productive to me either.

fbfamily111
03-30-2011, 11:28 AM
Oj.. one of the reasons I dont put up photos of our classroom is because there are books stacked everywhere ... all the time... no matter how much effort I seem to put into organizing it all. I would say 60-70% of them are textbooks. College ones, high school ones, grade school ones. On the other hand we use the internet extensively. Our walls are covered with posters (school kinds) in all the rooms... and it looks like... a school exploded in here...

If we ever lose power to a solar flare for a few months.. at least we will still have the books! I guess some where along the way... we just ended up using every method.

Plus.. books smell good :D
This is our house exactly, and I too love the smell of books! We use mostly textbooks/workbooks for our subjects. K12 Human Odyssey, CPO and PH science, WWE, and SWO. That doesn't mean we don't have fun. We watch videos, do experiments, and have lively discussions, after we read our text. I'm trying to teach my children work first, play later, and that you can find interest in even the most boring texts, if you let your mind expound on the possibilities. With the multitude of stimuli they have available to them (tv, internet, video games) I think it is good to give them a resource that requires them to provide the "picture".

obimomkenobi
04-01-2011, 02:20 PM
I wonder why there is often such stong feelings about textbooks versus non-textbooks.

They're just books; some we find useful and some we find useless. Some books engage our imagination, some are strictly "just the facts, ma'am." Some are luscious, some are dry. I don't read the news - online or in print - because I'm looking to experience something. I read for a bit of information. When I want a more rounded, interesting look at something I read National Geographic or Smithsonian. If I want to immerse myself in the topic completely, I head to the library and immerse myself in minutia. I'm reading two books by John McWhorter right now - burying myself in the details of English grammar and the evolution of written language. I'll probably recommend them to Padawan Learner, despite the fact that I know it's not a real interest of his, because I find them so interesting. He just wants to know where to put a semicolon so he doesn't have to rewrite any sentences in his online writing class. Furthermore, he'll continue to recommend coding websites, because he finds them interesting, when all I want to know is how to keep my sidebars from going wonky.

Sometimes I get the impression that people don't consider my son a real unschooler/self-directed learner/free-range learner (Topsy's son's term - and my personal favorite) because he uses textbooks as the base for the science and maths that he's currently learning. Why? Isn't the goal to learn the things that we both need and/or want to know? Of course it is. If learning about mummies, the goal really probably shouldn't be to mummify a chicken. The goal should be to learn about mummification. Mummified chickens are cool or nasty or just plain weird - depending on who you ask. No right way to learn about mummies.

A friend doesn't consider herself "a very good Charlotte Mason" homeschooler (despite her best efforts) because her kids want to cut to the chase and just grab an American History textbook instead of having so many different activities/books/tie-ins involved. Deep down, she admits, a few of her kids don't really think history of any kind is all that interesting - no matter what she does - but she can't bring herself to "give up" on her educational beliefs and buy a textbook to meet what she feels is a basic educational requirement for her American homeschoolers. Now, the goal is to know American History - and her kids ARE learning about it - but would their learning be any less if they learned it from the pages of a textbook? Does rendering lard make for better citizens or just better cornbread? No one right way to learn American History.

Textbooks are often accused of being dull, of crushing interest, of being needlessly rigid. And they can be, if you don't like the textbook or the author's methods of explaining things or are prejudiced against textbooks in general. But keep this little picture in your mind: my best friends' husband (a bright and wonderful man) has kept all his college math textbooks because he likes to re-read them...for fun. She says that he once started chuckling to himself in bed one night while reading a geometry text and she (the math-hater) asked him why. His response was, "I just can't believe the author went about making his proof this way. *chuckle, chuckle, chuckle* It would be much easier to do X, Y & Z instead." Whatever floats your boat, I guess. No one right way to be entertained either.

dbmamaz
04-01-2011, 02:58 PM
I really like your post Obi-Mom! In college, I quit going to some of my 400 person lectures because I could learn the exact thing from a text book, on my own schedule. Some people have an easier time connecting with the written word, tho.

Stella M
04-01-2011, 04:47 PM
Well fair enough, but CM isn't about tie-ins and extra activities and mummifying chickens and rendering lard. That's unit studies, which isn't the same as CM.

dbmamaz
04-01-2011, 06:01 PM
I thought CM didnt even cover math and science? (which for me are 80% of what matters)

obimomkenobi
04-01-2011, 06:07 PM
Well fair enough, but CM isn't about tie-ins and extra activities and mummifying chickens and rendering lard. That's unit studies, which isn't the same as CM.

You're right, Melissa. They're not the same, and I'm sorry I didn't make myself clearer.

I thought about that later - she calls what she does CM, but ties a lot of unit studies in as well (especially for her youngest ones). I thought of her though because she's always talking about books like I remember CM writing about them. No twaddle, boring textbooks, only living books (a term, I admit, that I find condescending). She does focuses on spending time in nature, working on nature journals, and using "real books" in place of academic - aka, boring - books. I should have noted that she's more eclectic in reality than she self-identifies.

I would like to note that I have a high regard for the multitudes of approaches to teaching children - I swear, I've probably tried them all over the years - and the various ways adults go about helping their children learn. I believe we do ourselves, our children, and the larger world of learning a disservice when we write off any sub-category of books as unnecessary or - worse, detrimental - to learning or achievement. My son learned to read, on his own and largely without my assistance, because of Calvin & Hobbes at the age of 4. He's not a wunderkind, just a boy that wanted - desperately - to know what that spiky-haired boy and tiger were saying to each other. A series of cartoons, the horror. Complete and total twaddle, but it was the key to opening the doors to reading for my son and many other highly visual kids.

I learned the basics of physchology in highschool because I saw a used textbook at a book sale and thought, 25 cents? You bet. It's wasn't an involved read, but it was thorough discussion of the topic and gave me a desire to know more, fueling my decision to take a few courses in it during my undergrad years. Not a career in it, not a passion for it, but a definite interest.

What a fun thread to read and be a part in this has become! :)

Stella M
04-01-2011, 06:18 PM
Cara, CM covers maths and science. CM advocates the use of living books in the humanities. So I wouldn't use a history textbook or an English textbook ( or a science textbook in elementary grades ). CM taught maths in her school. There is plenty of info about teaching maths from a CM perspective. Obviously science has changed since CM's day and the way we teach science has had to change as well. But I still don't need a textbook to teach it, especially K-6. No-one would use a CM method if it suggested not teaching maths and science! Obviously, as a method it appeals to those who value the humanities and think those subjects count for way more than 20% of 'what matters' but you can get a completely adequate maths and science education up to the age of about 14 using CM methods.

It just bugs me that CM gets lumped in with unit studies and interest/delight-directed learning.

Ah, you posted at the same time as me OMK!

Yeah, we do 'twaddle' here too :) If you can call Star Wars readers twaddle, which CM would and I'm betting you wouldn't :) Mario DVD's definitely come into the twaddle category though! Getting fanatical about any one approach never helps anyone. We use maths textbooks and Dd13 uses a science textbook for 8th grade and above. I personally have never felt the need to use a textbook for other subjects.

I do feel bothered that there are all these assumptions about CM swirling around that aren't true and that article really annoyed me the way it set up textbook learning against non-textbook. There was an undertone of non-textbook learning 'pandering to the child' and not challenging a child. Which is tosh.

I've never thought about 'living' books being condescending, though I can see what you mean. Got any good alternatives ?

obimomkenobi
04-01-2011, 06:43 PM
If you can call Star Wars readers twaddle


Bite your tongue.;)

dbmamaz
04-01-2011, 07:06 PM
The CM website I read, I thought it said you would need to find other sources for math and science, but i havent looked in a while. It seemed really big on literature and writing and history. and at first it rather interested me - as a child i loved reading old books. But i realized there was no way I could get my boys interested in that sort of thing, and really, I wanted to spend more time on math and science than their schedule seemed to suggest. I did go back there a few times looking for fiction reading suggestions, tho. That just struck me as their strength

Oh, and i'll clarify - i dont get very excited about nature studies - and i couldnt get my boys to pay attention to ANYTHING when I tried it with them. They would stare in to space and hit each other with sticks. It was pointless. My teen actually preferred reading a bio textbook to taking water samples from the creek to look at under a microscope. But now he's reading Joy Hakim's Story of Science - which you may or may not count as a textbook - and he's constantly responding excitedly with 'hey, guess what'.

I'm not even sure my daughter would have liked CM - but I think I would have as a kid.

farrarwilliams
04-01-2011, 07:10 PM
I'm no CM expert by any means, by my impression was that CM covered math and science, but that like a lot of classical education, it was tipped humanities heavy. And is science done with living books? See, that I like.

I'm anti-"twaddle" though. I think it's a concept that's a bit baseless, honestly.

Stella M
04-01-2011, 07:11 PM
But the CM method isn't about 'old books'! It isn't a curriculum at all.

If you read what CM wrote and taught in her schools - it's online at Ambleside Online, both original and plain English versions - you would see she addresses both maths and science. Maybe the other place just isn't a very good CM website :) her schools only went up to about the age of 14 though, so after that, you're just working with an adaptation of the CM method. Which for me, could totally include a fabulous textbook, if I thought it was the best resource available.

I'm not anti-twaddle when it comes to the books and materials I choose to present the kids with; I would think everybody would choose the best materials they could. When it comes to what the kids want to choose for themselves though - they can go for it!

Another thought ( don't worry, I have to go tutor in a sec so I'll have to stop! ) is that my idea of a living book might not be the same as a CM purist. Dd13 uses 'Cambridge Latin' which looks like a textbook but teaches through reading and translating stories and plays, as well as integrating historical information. There are language exercises in the book but to me it still comes under the heading of of a living book. Sorry OKM!! I'll try to think of a better phrase. I get how using that is like calling everything else 'dead books':)

farrarwilliams
04-01-2011, 08:36 PM
I was a bit unclear, when I said I was anti-"twaddle" I meant I was against the whole concept. I think it's nonsense. I may have strong opinions that certain books are eyeroll-worthy, but who am I to say?

And some brands of nature study also make me a little batty. It's fine for those who like to want to identify leaves by how many fronds or whatever, but assuming you know which one is poison ivy, I don't find it to be an essential life skill for understanding the world or appreciating nature.

I wonder, Obikenobimom, what is condescending about the term "living books"? As I understand it (and again, I'm no expert), CM just meant books with voice and authorship that are engaging and interesting.

dbmamaz
04-01-2011, 08:59 PM
I did go back and look at ambleside . . . it says "Select a program that meets your family's needs from our page of Math Options" and has a link to a single page which covers all math for all years. 2nd grade doesnt have any science except 'natural history'. The bulk of the website is devoted to literature and history. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but I majored at times in engineering and computer science, and math and science were always my favorite subjects, and my childrens also. So its just not a good fit for us.

Stella M
04-01-2011, 09:22 PM
Well, sure...I don't think CM should have to be a good fit for everybody. Ambleside is offering a curriculum. CM writes about her methods teaching all subjects including maths, geography and science. You can h/s using Ambleside's curriculum or you can h/s using CM methods and they aren't neccessarily the same thing at all times. People often assume CM=Ambleside but that's not the case. In any case, Ambleside isn't saying 'don't do maths or science or 'maths and science aren't important.' I'm not being snarky but I think it's really hard to 'get' CM without reading her books. I apply CM methods to our science. And my girls didn't just spend their time outside drawing flowers ( though they did do a lot of natural history ). They studied a lot more than that but without a textbook, it's true. And I didn't get them to add and subtract the daisies for maths either. We have always done formal maths - except for our 18months spent unschooling - and I teach maths according to CM methods as well. It isn't all about the material being used; it's an approach to education.

My only real point, because I have nothing invested in what other people use to teach their dc, is that non-textbook approaches to learning should not be lumped into the 'non-rigourous' category. Which, imo, is what the original extract from the article Ann posted, seemed to be saying.

Stella M
04-01-2011, 09:45 PM
I knew she said it somewhere:

of all his early studies perhaps none is more important to the child as a means of education than that of arithmetic.
Charlotte Mason on 'Home Education'

She then goes on to discuss her ideas about preparing children for further mathematics.

dbmamaz
04-01-2011, 10:08 PM
I see your point about reading her works - i tried to read one of her books which was available on line, and i couldnt finish it. It was too proscriptive for me. Thats why i'm relaxed eclectic - highly proscriptive programs make me chafe and radical unschooling makes me crazy!

i also see your points about textbooks as more challenging. It really depends on which 'living' books and which textbooks. There are some great works which are really dry and hard to get through. and there are some textbooks which are lively and engaging and really well written. There are some 'living' books which try to make everything fun and games, and some textbooks which get the facts wrong and take all the pleasure out of learning.

thats why to me its a totally pointless dichotomy.

Stella M
04-02-2011, 01:16 AM
Agreed :)..........

obimomkenobi
04-02-2011, 04:41 PM
Obikenobimom, what is condescending about the term "living books"? As I understand it (and again, I'm no expert), CM just meant books with voice and authorship that are engaging and interesting.

It's the idea that there are books that have been deemed worthwhile, engaging, and interesting, and those that have been deemed not. Remember my friend's husband? A math textbook would certainly not be considered "engaging" by most, but he finds them truly fascinating. I love grammar guides and foreign language textbooks. They excite me with their delineation of a language, the way they build it up in front of me piece by piece, yet my son feels they are most boring things on the planet. He'd prefer to do three sessions with Rosetta Stone and get on the plane. *shudder*

It is the thought, as MelissainOz suggested, that there can be books we consider "dead." Books are just books in my house - math books, science books, drawing books, HTML books, and groaning bookshelves filled with things that are pretty much only identified by name - Pride and Prejudice, The Origin of Species, The UnDutchables.

farrarwilliams
04-02-2011, 05:49 PM
I see what you're saying. And her idea of twaddle is certainly condescending. I guess as a positive definition, it doesn't bother me. I think books - even math books - are usually better if they have a sense of authorship and voice. But CM certainly thought that her opinion of what that meant was more important than anyone else's and that I do not agree with.

Stella M
04-02-2011, 06:25 PM
Did she ? Maybe I'm just not sensitized to her prescriptive opinions because I have quite a few of them myself when it comes to books :)

You know I'm spending way too much time thinking about CM for someone who isn't a strict CM'er :) That's the benefit of only 'interpreting' CM; you get to take the good stuff and throw away the rest. In general, I think choosing books with a high literary quality is A Good Thing.

I'm still kind of annoyed that CM gets lumped into the airy-fairy, let's make it all fun! category of homeschooling. Like we just sit around reading fairytales all day and not preparing our children for the real world. Most h/s methods, if done well, can prepare children for the real world. I don't see what textbooks have to do with it! The more I read that article in the OP, the more it annoys me.

And I'm annoyed that people think Ambleside is CM. I mean, an unschooler would get pretty peeved with criticisms of u/s if the person criticising hadn't read Holt and Gatto. There are convos I feel able to jump into b/c I've read a lot about them and practiced them - unschooling, CM, FIAR, Steiner. The rest I leave alone...anyway, that's not directed at anyone in particular here. It's just that I've come across the 'isn't CM homeschool lite without 'real work' IRL before.

Maybe we could say 'books strong in narrative.' rather than 'living books'. A couple of textbooks dd13 is using definitely fall into that category.

No. I give up. My bias is towards narrative. That's all there is to it!

lachel
04-28-2011, 08:10 PM
I always liked textbooks. I loved getting new ones at school. I always loved all the pictures and paging through them and having so much information on each page.

Ariadne
04-28-2011, 10:31 PM
I always liked textbooks. I loved getting new ones at school. I always loved all the pictures and paging through them and having so much information on each page.Me, too! I know that people often say that textbooks aren't enough in themselves, but neither are other books. You'd need a whole stack of other books plus some way of coordinating them to come together like a text.

I think textbooks + smaller books with more detail or related stories = a good combo

lakshmi
04-29-2011, 01:49 AM
Okay, now I am really confused. First of all, what is IRL... it gets me off track all the time.

Second, the original poster wasn't talking CM right? Just co-op. It seems like in a co-op setting that a text book might rock it just enough to make it easier on the teacher.

Lastly, I love text books. I love finding used ones at goodwill and I love reading the front where they stamp that stamp to see where the book came from and who had it before. I have textbooks from college I can't get rid of, just because I had them and they are text books and textbooks are so cool. The college ones I often use for reference.

My daughter (6) was hiking through a 6th grade textbook and found a bunch of egyptian stuff which took her off into her own exploration of Ancient Egypt in her own reading level.

As far as I am concerned the problem with using textbooks for elementary school (and likely middle/high school as well) is that they (the books) seem to be full of jingoism. A PS teacher friend of mine recently gave me a bunch of stuff. Honestly stuff that I just couldn't use. The content hurt my stomach to read. Also the teacher books have so much for ESL, or emerging learners it was sort of like why bother.

Okay, so I started out pro text book and just twisted myself into twaddling. No maybe not twaddling since I am not even sure what that means either. :P

Our co-op uses the Apologia stuff. And lots of anything Christian, so, really can't be of any help with secular co-op stuff.

Stella M
04-29-2011, 02:57 AM
Don't worry. I start out one thing and end up another as well :)

IRL = in real life.

and yes, this thread did get a little off track...

Kylie
04-29-2011, 04:50 AM
No twaddle, boring textbooks, only living books (a term, I admit, that I find condescending).


I'm only just jumping on here now and I haven't read the entire thread but ......I am in total agreeance here. I was scared to admit that my son actually read Zac Powers and Captain Underpants, in fact CU was what really got him reading, he was giggling all day with those things. Even non CM homeschoolers really seem to look down their high and mighty noses at those that 'allow' their kids to read stuff like that.

Who cares and what business is it of theirs anyway ;-)

Ariadne
04-29-2011, 09:42 AM
IEven non CM homeschoolers really seem to look down their high and mighty noses at those that 'allow' their kids to read stuff like that.

Who cares and what business is it of theirs anyway ;-)I know! Not only have we allowed Captain Underpants, my husband has read every single CU book, and the companion "Super Diaper Baby" series, to our children. They're hilarious, and we're not too highbrow for them.

Busygoddess
04-29-2011, 09:52 AM
I'm only just jumping on here now and I haven't read the entire thread but ......I am in total agreeance here. I was scared to admit that my son actually read Zac Powers and Captain Underpants, in fact CU was what really got him reading, he was giggling all day with those things. Even non CM homeschoolers really seem to look down their high and mighty noses at those that 'allow' their kids to read stuff like that.

Who cares and what business is it of theirs anyway ;-)

This is one thing that really bugs me. The idea that a child should only be allowed to read 'high quality literature,' instead of being allowed to read whatever they want, is ridiculous. My daughter read the Captain Underpants books when she was little. My son has no interest in CU, but loves the Goosebumps books. However, the fact that I allow my daughter to read such awful books as the Twilight series, doesn't stop her from reading books such as Huck Finn, Anne of Green Gables, Around the World in 80 days, Watership Down, etc.
My neice is forced to read all the 'good literature' that the schools expect, and she hates reading. She doesn't read for fun, at all. My kids, on the other hand, have always been allowed to read what they want (as long as the material is age-appropriate), and they love to read. I'm all for exposing them to great works, but also see the value in a book that is nothig more than a fun read.

Busygoddess
04-29-2011, 10:03 AM
I think textbooks have their place. Some textbooks are boring. So are some other books. Some subjects are easier taught with a text. Some textbooks can be enjoyable to read. I refuse to use textbooks for certain subjects, but would never generalize them as all bad. We have many textbooks in our collection, a few elementary level, a few high school, but mostly college level. They are used as reference, as spines, and even just to flip through.

I actually find it vaguely offensive (not to mention completely ignorant) when people make statements about not being able to think or learn for yourself, if you use textbooks. I understand that, in public school, they spoon feed the students information, instead of encouraging thinking for oneself. However, they would use that approach even if they didn't use textbooks. It isn't the fault of the textbooks, it is the fault of the system. Therefore, it is unfair to assume that anyone who uses a text as one part of their curriculum is following the spoon feeding approach.

Greenmother
04-29-2011, 12:26 PM
You can turn any book at all into a text book if you have the time and inclination. Usually text books are teaching fundamental concepts about a larger discipline. Until that is, you reach graduate level type work.

Twaddle--I suspect is very subjective. One man's treasure is another man's trash. Ever so often I meet people who reintroduce me to material I would normally consider twaddle and give me a fresh way to perceive that material and utilize it.

One of the biggest complaints I have about Public school is the *One Size Fits All approach that doesn't and cannot respect the individual needs and talents of the child. It would be very easy for the ideas of All Textbooks, no Textbooks and Twaddle to go in that direction.

Twaddle seems like a rather non-specific way of inpugning a book's value without discussing it's content or context. As if a book in question were entirely unworthy of consideration based on an "I said so" type approach. I would rather criticize any book based on content and accessibility-- specifically because that focuses on the merits of the author's work rather than appearing to be about likes, dislikes or merely ideological preferences. Or to just openly express a dislike or like rather than trying to make it more than that.

It makes no difference to me how other children area able to achieve their education. I only hope that they do. If I find a book I do not care for--for any reason but you think it's a really treasure, then I say more power to you and your children. I hope that it works for you.

dbmamaz
04-29-2011, 12:40 PM
I still think part of the 'twaddle' issue is that some kids are ready for heavy literature fairly early - and some kids will hate you if you make them read them. Some kids really need highly motivating book in order to be willing to read at all. Just like not all of us would choose to be literature majors . . .

Stella M
04-29-2011, 05:56 PM
Will I jump in ? Or will I not ? Not :)

lakshmi
04-29-2011, 06:26 PM
I think textbooks have their place. Some textbooks are boring. So are some other books. Some subjects are easier taught with a text. Some textbooks can be enjoyable to read. I refuse to use textbooks for certain subjects, but would never generalize them as all bad. We have many textbooks in our collection, a few elementary level, a few high school, but mostly college level. They are used as reference, as spines, and even just to flip through.

I actually find it vaguely offensive (not to mention completely ignorant) when people make statements about not being able to think or learn for yourself, if you use textbooks. I understand that, in public school, they spoon feed the students information, instead of encouraging thinking for oneself. However, they would use that approach even if they didn't use textbooks. It isn't the fault of the textbooks, it is the fault of the system. Therefore, it is unfair to assume that anyone who uses a text as one part of their curriculum is following the spoon feeding approach.

Yah what she said.

That is pretty much what the main thread was about, but the secondary theme about twaddle and and lit is also interesting. Two days ago a neighbor gave me a box of books, including the Captain, I got rid of anything Di*sn>ey, because why freely give my children advertising for them to read, but held onto CU. Some books that may appear to be twaddle are not, and other that appear to be lit are twaddle, based on the writing the theme or just plain condescending tone, maybe even throw boring in there too.

Kylie
04-29-2011, 06:31 PM
Will I jump in ? Or will I not ? Not :)

Go On !

ETA - why do we need 10 characters to make a post ;-)

Stella M
04-29-2011, 06:50 PM
Oh who was I kidding, of course I have to jump in on the thread that refuses to die! At least I waited until the children were fed and the girls sent off to ballet...

CU and the ilk have their place for new readers. The predictability of the books make them well suited to gaining reading fluency. I personally think little boys also enjoy other things besides bum jokes but hey, I'm a living books type person!

I don't censor what my children read. I do however think that a strong foundation of good literature is essential. Not heavy literature! Good literature. Which can be funny or exciting or motivating also. It gives a child the ability to read 'Twilight' for fun and see that it is crap and be able to describe why it is crap ( my dd.)

When CM'ers are talking about using strongly narrative books, it's usually in the context of education and there I think it's perfectly defensible to say that choosing well-written and engaging narratives that treat the child reader with respect are to be preferred over books that are not well written, engaging or respectful aka 'twaddle.'

In the whole textbook-under-attack context, it's worth remembering that CM herself only wrote about children up to the end of middle school. Obviously, there are going to be textbooks that are worth using for older children, teens and adults.

And hey! Some of us are literature majors - and some of us really love literature - and some of us even love CM methods - let's all play nice - just because I 'am' all that doesn't mean I look down on anyone else's bookcase or methods... so maybe you could all talk nicely about those of us in love with our libraries...???

Greenmother
04-29-2011, 07:48 PM
Lakshmi, Busygoddess--I understand what they are saying--and what you are saying as well. After all, textbooks in public school touch on a variety of interesting and historically and culturally relevant subjects. However---many are heavily white washed or just outright censored. Can you imagine the riot that would occur if a school decided to read the entirety of the Epic of Gilgamesh as opposed to just pre-approved snippets? Or Fairy Tales in their pre-Grimms/Disney form? They would make the bawdy passages of Chaucer and Shakespeare seem positively tame by comparison. And yet by cutting those parts out--how that changes the character of the work, and it's message.

Text books are sort of like Wikipedia. They are a good jumping off area and many contain little assignments to complete at the end of each segment. This is good. This gives the parent ideas or a framework for more involved unit studies or projects. But to teach World Civilization etc., exclusively from these heavily redacted forms would be spoonfeeding. Can you imagine if all you knew of Fairy tales came from Disney cartoons? Or if all you knew of Native Americans or Pilgrims or Settlers came from the same source? You would have touched on the subject, but not truly explored it all, nor would it be in context. And unfortunately this [lack of information] would also shape your worldview as an adult until you either went to college and read from better more complete sources or [not]. :(

These are subtle ways of indoctrinating children into forgetting about or not comprehending racism, bigotry, gender discrimation, etc., And it also does not give the child a solid history to look back upon and learn from. "Those that do not know their history are doomed to repeat it." And they are doomed to re-invent a variety of wheels as well.

I use textbooks, but I do not use them alone for the reasons mentioned above. I think it would be different with Math or other hard sciences. But with the Social or Soft Sciences, it is another matter entirely for me anyhow.

Busygoddess
04-29-2011, 08:17 PM
Lakshmi, Busygoddess--I understand what they are saying--and what you are saying as well. After all, textbooks in public school touch on a variety of interesting and historically and culturally relevant subjects. However---many are heavily white washed or just outright censored. Can you imagine the riot that would occur if a school decided to read the entirety of the Epic of Gilgamesh as opposed to just pre-approved snippets? Or Fairy Tales in their pre-Grimms/Disney form? They would make the bawdy passages of Chaucer and Shakespeare seem positively tame by comparison. And yet by cutting those parts out--how that changes the character of the work, and it's message.

Text books are sort of like Wikipedia. They are a good jumping off area and many contain little assignments to complete at the end of each segment. This is good. This gives the parent ideas or a framework for more involved unit studies or projects. But to teach World Civilization etc., exclusively from these heavily redacted forms would be spoonfeeding. Can you imagine if all you knew of Fairy tales came from Disney cartoons? Or if all you knew of Native Americans or Pilgrims or Settlers came from the same source? You would have touched on the subject, but not truly explored it all, nor would it be in context. And unfortunately this [lack of information] would also shape your worldview as an adult until you either went to college and read from better more complete sources or [not]. :(

These are subtle ways of indoctrinating children into forgetting about or not comprehending racism, bigotry, gender discrimation, etc., And it also does not give the child a solid history to look back upon and learn from. "Those that do not know their history are doomed to repeat it." And they are doomed to re-invent a variety of wheels as well.

I use textbooks, but I do not use them alone for the reasons mentioned above. I think it would be different with Math or other hard sciences. But with the Social or Soft Sciences, it is another matter entirely for me anyhow.

I wasn't saying that they should be used alone. In fact, I said "as one part of their curriculum." I also said that I refuse to use textbooks at all for certain subjects. Before high school level, I use textbooks for very few subjects (mainly Math & Latin). Science texts are not used in our house until high school level. History and cultural studies NEVER include textbooks in our house. I HATE History textbooks. I also don't use textbooks for literature, or allow abridged versions of books or the 'for kids' versions of classics, Shakespeare, etc. We don't read excerpts from books, plays, poetry, or speeches, we read the whole thing.

I was not defending spoonfeeding information by using only textbooks. I was saying that not everyone that uses textbooks uses them as their only source of information. So, it is wrong to assume that they are spoonfeeding or that their kids will or do lack the ability to think for themselves. I was saying that if used as one resource, among many, textbooks can be useful. Not all textbooks are mind-numbing, censored, inaccurate, tools of indoctrination. Some can be used, in conjunction with other materials, to help provide a well-rounded education.

lakshmi
04-30-2011, 12:29 AM
But should the textbooks be used in the context of a coop?

Is CM secular? I've heard of it, and just googled, and used Wiki....


Living Books: Probably the best known of Mason's methods is her use of living books for every subject possible instead of dry, factual textbooks or books that are 'written down' to children. Rather than books written by committee, as most textbooks are, living books are usually written by one person with a passion for the topic and a broad command of the language as well as the ability to write in an engaging, literary style while communicating great ideas rather than mere facts.[6][7][8][9] The size of the book is not as important as the content and style- it should be alive and engaging.[10]
Miss Mason did use textbooks when they were the best books she could find to meet the above criterion.[11]
Miss Mason dismissed as 'twaddle' materials that are dumbed down and insulting to children.[12]

I totally laughed. I had no idea what you were talking about...living books etc.. and the word twaddle is right there.. I thought it was some sort of Aussie word... lol... I mean how can I be a homeschooler if I know nothing about these things?

And who is talking down to those who love libraries? I love libraries, more than museums, and I also love text books. The best part about public school was new texts.. And I think for a coop class it would make it hella easier to teach rather than creating a whole class by scratch. (even though that is what I am doing for our coop).

So, unless everyone in the coop was CM and focused on living books, use a textbook.

As far as CU is concerned, I think little boys love stuff other than this type of humor, unless they are in public school. The hive mind is active on these campuses and what one likes so do the others. Peer attachment Vs parent attachment. Much easier to like something different if not everyone in your class is discussing CU. ie if you're homeschooling.

Busygoddess
04-30-2011, 11:18 AM
Oh who was I kidding, of course I have to jump in on the thread that refuses to die! At least I waited until the children were fed and the girls sent off to ballet...

CU and the ilk have their place for new readers. The predictability of the books make them well suited to gaining reading fluency. I personally think little boys also enjoy other things besides bum jokes but hey, I'm a living books type person!

I don't censor what my children read. I do however think that a strong foundation of good literature is essential. Not heavy literature! Good literature. Which can be funny or exciting or motivating also. It gives a child the ability to read 'Twilight' for fun and see that it is crap and be able to describe why it is crap ( my dd.)

When CM'ers are talking about using strongly narrative books, it's usually in the context of education and there I think it's perfectly defensible to say that choosing well-written and engaging narratives that treat the child reader with respect are to be preferred over books that are not well written, engaging or respectful aka 'twaddle.'

In the whole textbook-under-attack context, it's worth remembering that CM herself only wrote about children up to the end of middle school. Obviously, there are going to be textbooks that are worth using for older children, teens and adults.

And hey! Some of us are literature majors - and some of us really love literature - and some of us even love CM methods - let's all play nice - just because I 'am' all that doesn't mean I look down on anyone else's bookcase or methods... so maybe you could all talk nicely about those of us in love with our libraries...???

I agree with a lot of this. I completely agree that good literature is essential, and I suggest good books to my kids all the time. However, if I require my daughter to read a book, she is a giant PITA about it. She fights, agrues, & complains about how awful the book is. If I suggest it or let her come to it on her own, she will have no problem reading it & winds up enjoying it.

I have 2 problems with the concept of twaddle:
1) Too many people give it their own definition. They decide that twaddle is any type of book that htye don't like or that they feel is inappropriate for their child. It's like the definition of 'living books,' it changes depending on who you are speaking with.
2) I don't appreciate those who do look down on others for allowing their children to read what some might consider 'twaddle.' I hate the 'my way is THE right/best way' mentality. My way is the best way for MY family, but I wouldn't presume to push it on others, and I don't appreciate others trying to push their way. I don't allow 'for kids' versions of Shakespeare & classics. I prefer my kids wait until they can read & comprehend the original (or an unabridged translation), because I disagree with the idea that they should be dumbed-down or watered down for kids. However, I don't tell others that they shouldn't allow their kids to read that stuff or look down on them for it. All I ask for is that others show the same respect - provide their opinion, but not force it or insult others' choices.

For the record, I love the library. I've always been an avid reader & so are both my kids. We visit the library every week, plus have a large collection of our own.

I truly hope that nothing I posted on this thread offended anyone, since that was not my intent. I have no problem with people not using textbooks. In fact, I use as few of them as possible. However, I do see their usefulness, as well, and don't like it when people bash them as all being totally useless, stupid, and pointless.

Stella M
05-01-2011, 04:25 AM
Brandi, I'm not offended. This whole thread just had a real anti-CM tone, so as usual, I was just saying my piece :)

I actually agree with all you just said....except that I am likely to call twaddle as I see it! Especially to my own kids. I don't mind if they read it; I just want them to be able to recognise it for what it is. I wouldn't look down on someone for their book choices, but I wouldn't go all post-modern and declare all choices equal either.

Still, I've been known to indulge in a little twaddle myself. Stephanie Plum, anyone ??!! :)

Busygoddess
05-01-2011, 09:34 AM
I actually agree with all you just said....except that I am likely to call twaddle as I see it! Especially to my own kids. I don't mind if they read it; I just want them to be able to recognise it for what it is. I wouldn't look down on someone for their book choices, but I wouldn't go all post-modern and declare all choices equal either.



Actually, with the exception of the fact that I don't use the word twaddle, I agree completely. My son hasn't yet learned the difference between good books and twaddle/fluff, but Dea knows the difference. Since he is only 7, I'll give him a little more time to learn the difference:)

Stella M
05-01-2011, 09:36 PM
Yeah, my 7 yr old thinks a Star Wars reader is the same as War and Peace :) And twaddle is a stupid word.

lakshmi
05-07-2011, 12:07 AM
Funny thing. Thursday at co-op a woman with graduating senior gave me a CM book. Talk about coincidences. But I was thinking about text books and twaddle in light of this new information and in the old school text books were very bland. I have one with copywrite 1937 and I can't imagine what they would have been like even earlier. And the twaddle she discussed must have been very condescending stuff. (maybe comparable to D(i)sn*ey princess stuff?