Question for you: What does “teaching” really mean?
Whenever I ask this question to a group, I get a variety of responses:
- A lot of blank stares…”what do you mean, ‘what does it mean?’”
- It’s what a teacher does.
- It means to give someone information…I think?
- It’s…complicated. It’s a weird mixture of university training, lesson planning, grading papers, presenting lessons, and prep hours. Whatever those are.
- I never really thought about it!
In a way, all of those answers are accurate, but none of them really encompass what it means “to teach.” The real meaning of this phrase is both incredibly simple and incredibly profound.
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What Does It Mean to Teach?
“To teach” means “to cause someone to learn.”
Mull that one over for a moment. In its purest form, to teach means to cause someone to learn.
Great! But what does that entail?
In our society, we tend to equate “learning” with things like getting good grades, completing assignments, or doing well on tests.
But think about it: is that really what learning is? Or is there more to the equation?
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Looking in the dictionary, definitions like “to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, skill, or experience” or “to become informed of or acquainted with” are pretty common.
They’re ok, but the problem with these definitions is that they’re…well, surface. Clinical. Incomplete.
Checking the thesaurus, though, we get a bit more of the picture. Synonyms for “learn” include words like attain, become able, determine, get the hang of, grasp, master, soak up, or train in.
The uniting thread weaving through these words is the idea of purposeful understanding, mastery, and retention. It’s the ability to understand something to the point that it can be applied, discussed, and used.
That’s our job as homeschool parents: to cause our children to learn. And while that can seem a bit intimidating at times (ok, a lot intimidating), it’s also a pretty amazing thing.
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What Does Teaching Look Like?
That is quite the question. We all think we know what the word means, but as we saw above, there really isn’t an easy answer to be had.
That’s not because teaching is necessarily difficult, though; it’s because teaching “looks” different in every situation.
While that means that there is no set blueprint for teaching your individual children, it also means that you have the freedom to teach them in whatever ways work best for your family.
You are not limited to what other people do!
With Great Responsibility Comes Great Freedom
Ok, this isn’t true in every area of life, but it is true in the world of homeschooling.
I’m not going to pretend that taking on your child’s education isn’t a great responsibility, because it is. (However, so is parenting…and you’ve probably been doing that one for quite a while now!)
The good news is, you have a lot of freedom in fulfilling that responsibility.
No matter what teaching methods work best for your kids – whether they include schedules, textbooks, projects, literature, group activities, discussion, or any combination of the above – there are options available.
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Your Main Focus
Whether you are brand new to homeschoolng or you realize that you need to change things up, there are a lot of details to deal with.
It’s easy to let all those details pull your focus away from what’s truly important: your children.
Don’t let them.
In the posts below, I’ll cover a lot of those details and help you navigate the options available to you. Come join me!
The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling
Learning About Learning Styles
Teaching Writing in Your Homeschool
Homeschooling High School: Figuring Out the Basics
Jen Duncan says
Hi Alexandra, you’re welcome! Thank you so much for your comment. 🙂 I’m glad you’re here!