Lately, I have been thinking more about SteveH's experience of an elementary teacher dismissing his young son's knowledge of geography as "mere facts" because I have steered my family's educational boat even more towards the classical model over the last year or so. (We have even started Classical Conversations one day a week, the model of which would horrify the type of folks who say "drill and kill.")
Because, well, *OF COURSE* his son only had superficial knowledge, mere facts. He was an elementary student. That's what they do, those little collectors of knowledge. Those sponges. They absorb facts. And if you don't provide them with useful ones, they will happily populate their brains with the name and basic biographical information of every character in the Star Wars Extended Universe. (They may even do that, anyway. Mine sure have.)
Here's what I don't understand about the folks who think it is so horrible to load up a child's brain with "mere facts" -- do they really, *really* think it never has to be done? Do they not mind that the fact-can just get kicked down the road to either high school or college, when you can no longer progress without the domain knowledge but your brain is no longer developmentally eager to be constantly memorizing and chanting inane things?
Then I was thinking of Catherine. And basal ganglia.
Well, I did no actual thinking about basal ganglia, to be sure, because I don't know the first thing about it.
Of course, there's the rub -- what is the "first thing" about basal ganglia?
As Catherine wrote much about when she started plunging into her studies, you have to learn the lingo. You have to absorb the "mere facts" -- the grammar -- of any new field. Why wait to do it until you have to simultaneously struggle with the logic and rhetoric (to use the classical model's terminology)?
The whole thing just makes me angry.
I can't tell you how many moms I have met who tell me a similar story: They "hated" math. They feared having to teach it to their kids. Then after going through Singapore (or even Saxon, for that matter) in the elementary levels, it all clicked and they realized they *liked* math and were good at it.
My pet theory is that if you look at math from the grammar --> logic ---> rhetoric model point of view, grammar has been gutted out of the picture in many schools for some time and it is fashionable to try to jump straight into logic (if not rhetoric) right away. And now we have these moms who are *finally* getting their grammar stage math competence, and suddenly the logic / rhetoric stage math is no longer frightening (and, in fact, fun and fascinating) because they finally have the foundational underpinnings to understand it.