thatmom

real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

delight-centered learning in principle and practice

When my father-in-law retired, he thought he might enjoy doing some volunteer work and, being an avid reader and frequent patron of his local library, thought being involved in teaching adults to read might be fun. He attended all the training sessions and was given his first assignment….a 17year old young man who was functionally illiterate.

Week after week, Dad met with this student but saw no enthusiasm whatsoever until one day when he asked the boy what his interests were. “Motorcycles!” was his excited reply. So when Dad came in for the next lesson, he brought along a copy of a magazine on restoring and racing motorcycles to use as the reading textbook and within a few weeks, his student was at the top of his class. Dad had discovered the principle of “delight-centered learning.”

We first heard of this concept in the mid-1980’s when Gregg Harris challenged homeschooling parents to identify topics that appeal to their children and then to use that information to motivate them to study and research all sorts of subjects. We began to apply the “delight approach” to what we taught and saw amazing results but it wasn’t until many years had passed that we realized just how effective it could be.

When our oldest son, Clayton, was in his early teens, we bought our first computer, a brand new Mac Classic with a black and white monitor! The software package came with a P-51 Mustang flight simulator and Clayton spent hours flying raids over Germany and assisting the allies in bringing down the Nazi regime. But as he flew, he began to ask a lot of questions. “How did WW II begin?” “What was motivating Hitler?” “What made Roosevelt bring the US into the war?” “Was it morally right for Truman to drop the bomb?”

His questions were good ones and required research and discussion. We made a trip to the Air Force Museum in Akron, Ohio, where he spent a month’s paper route salary on books about the history of aviation. He began asking more questions and reading biographies about the world’s great leaders during that time. He saw how a Christian’s perspective influenced, for good or ill, those who directed the war effort. He began to think about his own future and how the Lord might use him to further His kingdom. Law and government policy became his passion and he joined Toastmasters to enhance his speaking and debate skills.

When he was 18 he registered to vote and to run for a county board office all in the same week. For several months he visited over 5,000 households and gave campaign speeches. He lost the election but will tell you he was still the top vote getting loser in the county! A year later he was enrolled in law school and has since graduated and opened his own practice. The Lord has used him in a unique ministry to those who are often at the end of a long road of problems and who are open to hearing hope from a Christian who has genuine compassion for them.

Who would have thought that encouraging a child’s “delight” in flying a flight simulator would have led to the fulfillment of a vision of Christian service and ministry to those who desperately need the Gospel message of Jesus Christ?

“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9

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2 Comments»

  Lin wrote @

I can remember when my older cousin got her first teaching job. she was to teach the functionally illiterate poor kids to read at a local high school. They were unmotivated to say the last and the ‘readers’ were elementary.

She did the same thing. She bought some tame fashion magazines for the girls and car magazines for the boys and they were motivated to read and learned quickly. She used that aa a springboard for loftier issues they expressed interest in.

My cousin (a single woman) went on to teach bible on the mission field in SA and Romania where she died a few years ago due to poor medical care being available.

My daughter is showing a great interest in WW2 at the age of 7 because her grandpa was in it fighting the Japanese and has told her many stories and even has showed her some of his equipment he used. He still has his shaving mirror, cot, blanket, rain poncho, flashlight, etc. She took some of it in for show and tell.. We have checked out quite a few books and read all about it. this lead to an interest in the history of missions in those Asian countries.

You just never know what God has prepared.

  thatmom wrote @

Lin, I think you have a missionary in the making there. When you share about your daughter, I really see a heart for the Lord in the things she says. It always blesses me to hear what you share about her.


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