Over on the Sonlighter Club Forums I see over and over again that folks want to be reassured that using a literature based curriculum will prepare their kids for college and for life.
Do you remember when you were pregnant or maybe when you first thought you might homeschool? I doubt that you checked out a text book about pregnancy or homeschooling and then answered the questions at the end of the chapter or took a final test. But, I am guessing, you learned? I am guessing, by reading real books and possibly discussing what you read and your thoughts about what you read with a friend or spouse, you learned, made decisions and had a fairly good idea of the thing you researched?
It is the same with our kids. When they use real books to learn and discuss what they have learned with you or write a response paper, they are learning--and what is more--they are learning to critically think about what they read. This is THE BEST way to learn, THE BEST way to assimilate information, THE BEST way to figure out where they stand and what they believe.
When Scotty first went to Eastern Kentucky University he was a bit hesitant. He had been homeschooled his whole life and had never taken a community college class or been in a co-op. He did have the opportunity to take a chemistry lab at our local Christian College with other high school homeschoolers, but that was the extent of his out-of-home education.
After a couple of weeks I asked him what he thought and how he was doing. He said, "Well, at first I just sat and didn't answer many questions. But, in my English class we were supposed to read some selections from Plato and discuss them the next day. When that day came, the teacher asked for us to tell what we thought and the significance of the writing. A few kids raised their hands and basically regurgitated something from the selection. But, the teacher said, 'No, what I want is what it means--what is the significance. What do you think about it?'
So, I raised my hand and told what I thought it meant, what the significance of it was."
"Kids looked at me with amazement and said, 'Did you study this last year?' and I had to answer no, that I had never seen it before. Then they said, 'How did you know that, then?' and I said, 'I just read it, thought about it and figured it out.' The teacher was pleased and I knew right then that college wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. The kids are just regular kids, the same kids who work at McDonalds. I don't know what I worried about."
And there you have it.
If you use literature to teach your children they well learn to think for themselves, learn to analyze what they read, be able to form opinions and then to communicate those opinions back orally or in writing. It will be second nature to them--they have been doing it for years. Reading textbooks and filling in blanks does not adequately prepare them for this higher level of thinking like literature based learning does.
It just doesn't.
[Note: I think textbooks can be used as a tool toward this end, if literature and discussion are used along with it. I don't think all textbooks are in and of themselves bad, but they need to be used as a tool, not to be memorized and accepted as fact.]
[Photo: Scotty's graduation from our homeschool in 2007]