Where you can be your own best teacher
My name is Rebecca Fegan and I am a teacher and also a student. You can’t be one without being the other. This is a picture of me in front of the Ponte Vecchio in Firenze, Italy. It’s the Old Bridge in Florence, Italy. Before we traveled there, I decided to learn Italian. I had less than 1 year’s study and yet I could converse, albeit slowly, and understand most of what the people there were saying.
When I was growing up, my parents were teachers and gave music lessons at home. I would sit in the next room and listen. They made use of a system of learning that I will share with you. I thought everyone learned that way. I thought all teachers taught that way. I was wrong on both counts.
For too long, we have been brought up believing that everyone starts school with an empty slate that teachers fill up with good things. The “good” students remember everything the teacher thinks is important and can recite almost verbatim the wisdom of the books and lectures. The other students don’t remember. Neither group of students applies the information or remembers it after the test, and all of them go blithely on their way missing the best this world has to offer. What a Waste! All the potential they have for greatness dies on the vine because they believe after school there’s nothing more to gain by learning. By diving deep into habitual ways of thinking and eliminating those thoughts and processes they no longer need, they could open doors and crash through those glass ceilings. They could become more, they keep their minds engaged, and they could reach heights of achievement they could not have imagined during their school years. The empty slate model of education is a complete fraud, and our current system of education no longer serves us.
Covid 19 showed us all sorts of imaginative and productive ways to seek the knowledge we craved. But many children fell behind. Why? Because we should be teaching them HOW to think not WHAT to think. We should show them HOW to learn. Once this process is in place, there’s no limit to the potential within each of us.
Let me introduce you to my son, Sean. When he finished 7th grade, he had flunked Math, English, and Biology. I understand that some math and science can be difficult, but how do you flunk your native language?!! He was required to do summer school: 1 month, 4 days a week, 2 hours per day per subject (Math and English, they didn’t offer Biology). At the end of the session, they gave him a passing grade and would allow him into 8th grade the following fall. We gave him an assessment test to see where he was.
He tested 4th grade in Math, 5th/6th grade in English, 5th grade in Social Studies, and 5th grade in general science…but he was qualified to enter 8th grade? Sean and I decided to try and get caught up over the summer, so we worked on his math skills and got him up to 6th grade (a two-grade improvement!) in 6 weeks. We then looked at the upcoming year and I couldn’t see any reason to continue public school when after 7 years of school he’d only progressed 5 or 6. I asked him if he wanted to try homeschooling for 8th grade, and he shrugged, thinking it couldn’t be worse.
We worked out a program and got a curriculum ordered. Our educational theme was the bi-centenary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition because we weren’t far from one of their stopping points and there were all sorts of museums and literature regarding the trip. We used diaries of the trip, the description of the flora and fauna along the route, the cultural geography of the peoples the expedition encountered, and the physical geography. We incorporated the language and vocabulary and did graphs and maps using mathematical concepts to estimate distances. Then we notified the proper authorities and they were aghast.
“You’re depriving your child of the school experience!”
“He’ll fall behind and never get caught up!”
“You’ll never succeed as a teacher…you don’t have a degree in education!” (I did but it was Music education and they didn’t think that was enough.)
Now Sean is not a dumb kid. He is not lazy by any stretch of the imagination. But on standardized tests, he was scoring in the 20th percentile. When he found out he had to take an assessment test to get into 9th grade in public school (he wanted to be in the band) I told him, “You have been reading and doing worksheets and testing all year, you will be fine.” He took the assessment test and when we got the results back, he was very proud of his progress. His lowest score was 10th grade. But some of the scores came back “phs” and we had no idea what that meant. Down at the bottom of the page, in teeny, tiny print, in grey, were the words “phs–post high school.” Some of his scores were 14th-16th grade! He had jumped 10 grades in 1 year.
I have taught thousands of students in many subjects, and of course, I use it myself. I have taught students who’d been labeled “unteachable” and those with IQs much higher than mine. This process works. The subject matter is irrelevant. You can learn academics, sports and arts, and philosophy, and you’ll see your world in a new light. Everything is connected! And the great thing is this: NO ONE STARTS FROM 0.
If you feel your children have fallen behind and cannot ever catch up, take heart. If you feel you can’t take another 12 hours of classes and get the hours you need to get that promotion, don’t give up. If you have tried and failed, and failed, and failed to get that certification, there is a way.
This Process Works