I can’t believe I’m about to say this…
My kids are learning how to pick locks.
I have no idea why and only a general idea of how, but Mr. December recently bought a lock-picking kit, complete with practice locks that let you actually see the pins as you try to move them. It took him about two hours of practice before he was able to pick one of the locks successfully, and now he’s teaching K how to do it. He tried to teach me but it aggravated my carpal tunnel syndrome, and I don’t like lock picking enough to make that tradeoff. I need to save my hands for woodworking, kayaking, and biking.
Mr. December looks at this as one of the various skills we can teach as part of homeschooling. We’ve been talking about how to structure our week so that we include time to practice these random skills (also up for consideration: knot tying and woodworking) in our “school hours” so that the kids do it without complaining that we’re infringing on their weekend time.
That discussion ended up exposing a fundamental difference in our philosophies. You see, Mr. December is convinced that after teaching the kids these random skills we’ll need to follow up and get them to practice regularly to master them. I, on the other hand, believe in introducing them to the skills and then ensuring they have the free time, materials, and support to practice if they want to.
See the difference? Mr. December seems to believe that if you’re going to start learning something, you should follow through and practice until you master it. I believe that it’s good to be exposed to lots of different skills, even superficially, because it gives you the best chance to find one you like. Once you’re interested in a skill you’ll practice voluntarily.
So you know, I agree with Mr. December when it comes to core disciplines like math and writing. But when we start to talk about what you might call “electives,” I see no point in forcing the kids to master skills they don’t enjoy practicing. Because really, who cares if my kids know how to tie a bowline? When they need it, they’ll learn. In the meantime, I’d rather they learn that learning is something to be passionate about, not something to be forced by an authority.
What do you think?