This program was written for a "registration by documentation" application in NSW. It is of interest because it covers the new school leaving age in NSW and the post Year 10 requirements. No year level was mentioned on the certificate and there was no mention of whether we satisfied the NSW BOS Stage 6 courses.
We had been inspected twice before and received two years registration each time. Based on this program we again received the maximum two years registration. It covers the period from 16 January 2010 to 15 January 2012, at which time Koomi will be 15 years and 10 months. On the certificate there was no mention of a specific year level and no mention of whether we met the BOS Stage 6 courses.
In answer to the questions "Method by which a record of learning activities are being kept" and " Method by which student's achievement and progress are being recorded" we simply said that a diary of each day's activities is kept and all Koomi's work is kept. We felt this adequately addressed these concerns.
We avoided all school teacher jargon. We felt that if we are doing what we believe in, we should describe it in our own words. We should not adjust our language to force what we do into the concepts, assumptions and categories of others. This is especially so when that jargon is a form of language that is so degraded and empty of meaning.
Koomi's Educational Program
I'm unsure whether this approval will cover the period until Koomi turns fifteen in March 2011 or whether it will cover the full two years now that the school leaving age is seventeen. Nor am I sure what criteria this program will be assessed against. Koomi has already met the minimum requirements for Year 10. I recently spoke to Kerri Sheehan and he told me no criteria have been developed beyond the Year 10 level.
We consider ourselves "natural learners" so we don't usually write comprehensive programs in advance. Learning is not a distinct activity in our daily lives, one that stops and starts or one that can be timetabled. We don't see it as "schoolwork" and couldn't measure "teaching time". Interests can be followed. For example, Koomi is currently interested in conjuring tricks and spends a lot of time researching and practising them. For us, learning is a source of pleasure and is woven into the fabric and conversation of our lives.
We teach Koomi some important principles. We teach him that he is free and responsible for his own life and that in order to be consistent, then, he must respect the freedom of others. We tell him that he should live his life according to his own judgments and imagination but that he should take note of the experience of others – the experience of his contemporaries and the experience of those who have lived in the past. We tell him that the only person he should allow to define who he is, or decide what he is capable of doing, is himself. We tell him never to let anyone pretend to assess his "ability". An examiner assesses only the work in front of him or her and only against known criteria, which Koomi is free to reject. We tell him that he should solve differences and problems by reason, patience and imagination.
I have briefly set out what Koomi has done in the past year or two, plus what we plan or foresee him doing in the coming year. When he turns fifteen or soon after, we foresee him starting a Bachelor of Arts degree on-line like his fifteen year old brother. We take it that, like his brother, he will start this part-time while continuing home education. He can then use his university results to gain acceptance into a full-time on-campus course when he is ready. We assume The Board of Studies will not prevent this path into tertiary education by its new requirements for home education between the ages of 15 and 17.
In 2002 I put an article on the Home Education Association's website in which I attempted to describe our philosophy of education. Its URL is: http://hea.asn.au/resources/nat_learn37.pdf. See also http://hea.asn.au/resources/disp_res.asp?type=4&id=37. If our educational program, together with the description of our philosophy found on this website, is inadequate please feel free to arrange a visit.
Intensive study of English grammar. We do this two or three times per week on average. We take a structured and cumulative approach, rather like maths, instead of the more popular ad hoc approach. We use a number of resources including The Shurley Method by Brenda Shurley.Spelling is done most days.Creative writing is done approximately three times per week.The history of the English language is a special interest of ours, especially etymology. Koomi is currently reading Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue to complement his study of our language's history.We are continuing his study of formal and informal logic using a number of texts. These include: Fogelin Understanding Arguments; Laresn The Art of Argument; Kelley The Art of Reasoning; Weston A rulebook for Arguments.Wide general reading. In the last year or two Koomi has read the following books: all Robert Jordon, all J.K.Rowling, most of Gath Nix, some Tolkien, some Manfredi, all Matthew Reilly, most Paul Collins, all Paolini, some Michael Scott, all Douglas Adams, Lewis's Narnia series, Brave New World, Animal Farm, some Steinbeck, a number of books on world mythology, and various biographies, for example, Joan of Arc, Pizarro, James Morrison, Mao's Last Dancer, Magellan.Koomi has attended Bell Shakespeare productions. We read the plays before we attend. He enjoys dramatisations of Dickens, Hugo, Austen and the Brontes.
We foresee this pattern of English study continuing over the coming year.
Koomi is about half way through the Year 11 Extension 1 course. In twelve months we foresee him about half way through the Year 12 Extension 1 and 2 course. We have the following texts: Grove, Maths in Focus Extension 1 Preliminary; Jones and Couchman, 3 Unit Mathematics, books 1 and 2; Fitzpatrick, New Senior Mathematics 3 Unit Course for Years 11 and 12; Pender et al, Cambridge Mathematics, Three Unit Year 12. We will buy either the Fitzpatrick or the Pender for Extension 2.
Koomi has almost completed the Year 10 text Core Science 4. We have done a variety of experiments using materials in the home. He has done some work out of the Year 11 Physics course – the work on movement and the work on Astronomy. We plan soon to move on to either the Year 11 Physics course or the Year 11 Chemistry course. For two years he has had a subscription to Australian Sky and Telescope. He also reads science books on wide-ranging topics from the local library.
Koomi's present interest in conjuring tricks could be described as an interest in experimental psychology. It is a very age appropriate study of human perception and human illusion, carried out at the level of both the eye and the mind. One way to understand how a system works is to examine how and when that system breaks down. Koomi has enjoyed a number of demonstrations by well-known Australian and international practitioners.
Koomi has been learning German for three and a half years. He uses a DVD package called Rosetta Stone and its accompanying texts, plus the texts Deutsch Downunder, (Pearson/Longman). He will continue his German study and we plan to start studying Latin next year.
History is a family focus. For many years we have been rising at 6:30 am each weekday to read together. We read for about an hour. We have been working through the foundation documents of Western Civilisation. We have read the Bible right through with commentaries and atlases by our side. At present we are reading The Iliad with Owen's commentary and plan to follow this up with The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and then possibly Julius Caesar's The Conquest of Gaul. But then, a desire for Chaucer in the mornings has also been expressed, but only after The Odyssey, they tell me.
We have done an intensive study of the Ancient World and especially the Classical World – thus our interest in studying Latin. At present we are studying fourteenth century Europe – thus the interest in Chaucer. We spend about one hour every weekday reading and discussing history together in addition to the early morning readings. Koomi writes a history essay every few weeks.
Koomi also reads various history and geography books from the library. He has read books on Australian history and aboriginal history including prominent historians like Blainey. We have found some of the earliest records of local aboriginal culture in our local museum and stories of early contact from old newspapers. We have about two hundred books on Australian history and politics on our shelves including about twenty five specifically on aboriginal history and culture. Australian politics is constantly discussed in our home as it comes up in the news and on programs like Radio National's PM. We are great Radio National listeners. Koomi is also studying the Year 11 Economics course using Year 11 Economics 2009, by Tim Riley.
We were committed environmentalists long before it found its way onto school curricula and attracted government subsidies. When he was younger we designed and owner-built the passive-solar house we now live in. Koomi is aware of its design features and maintenance requirements, including its waterless toilet. The ecology of our block holds a special place in our interests. Koomi has read some of Tim Flannery's work.
Apart from reading library books on music history and composers, Koomi learns piano and trumpet. He has done five piano exams (four A's and one B) and two trumpet exams (two A's). This year he did AMEB Grade Six piano and next year he plans to do AMEB Grade Six trumpet. He has also done Grade Two Music Theory for which he received 99%, and Grade Three Musicianship for which he received 98%. Next year he plans to do AMEB Grade Four Musicianship.
Koomi plays in The Clarence Valley Conservatorium Concert Band and The Clarence Valley Conservatorium Big Band. He plays at many public performances with these bands. He plays in eisteddfods and sings in The Clarence Valley Conservatorium Youth Choir. He has attended the DET sponsored regional band workshops with Steve Williams every year since 2003. He has been selected for State Band three times. He has been to the DET sponsored regional music camp at Lennox Head for the last two years and hopes to go to the state camp next year. He was the only student who played in the band for the local musical The Wiz in 2009.
Koomi has attended many band and choir workshops:
Sydney Symphony Orchestra Playerlink, Coffs Harbour, 2008Sydney Youth Orchestra, Coffs Harbour, 2008James Morrison, 2008Stephen Leek, Lismore and Grafton, 2008Mark O'Leary, 2008John Hoffman and John Morrison, 2009Phillip Matthais, 2009James Cuskelly, 2008, 2009The Australian Music Convention with Mark Eager and Andy Firth, 2009Toowoomba - Conservatorium tour and workshop, 2009Woolgoolga Outerbeats tour, 2009
I have included Koomi's last two reports from his trumpet teachers. His piano teacher is his mother.
Author: John Logan