I’ve previously blogged about the ‘History of the World since 1300’ Coursera course and why I’m doing it here and my anxiety about whether it will take too much time away from my primary concern; homeschooling the kids, so I won’t discuss it again here, suffice it to say that my anxiety is still there but it’s being edged aside by my excitement about the course, which is nice! Although I did, in my insecurity, send off a question to Rachel DeMille, co-developer of a philosophy of education which I am interested in called ‘Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education’ which advocates homeschooling parents working to improve their own level of education too. I’ll let you know her opinion on the matter when I get it.
I’ve cheated a bit with the title of this post. It’s not the first real day of the course. The online lectures don’t start until 16 September and the first assignment isn’t due until the 7 October (when I will be extremely busy putting together something to celebrate Edward’s 8th birthday a week later!) but I did receive an introductory email today and access to discussion forums which are already busy! There are, wait for it, 70,000 people from around the world signed up for this course in addition, as I understand it, to the Princeton University students taking it in situ. Wow! People are doing it for a lot of different and interesting reasons but nobody has identified themselves as homeschoolers yet. I have posted a thread asking if there are any other homeschooler doing the course; ‘teachers’ or ‘students’. It will be REALLY interesting to see if there are and where they’re from and if we can support each other through what, I feel, will be an exciting but challenging time.
I always thought doing this course would be challenging as well as exciting but I am a bit more nervous than before because today I found out how, very cleverly, our assignments are going to be assessed. Since one professor can’t evaluate 70,000 of them we will be assessing each other’s – 5 others in fact! This is a huge responsibility! And assessing the other assignments sounds like more work than writing one’s own! I’m daunted. But hopefully I’ll learn a lot too. It’s a clever system – not only a way to get your work evaluated when you’re one student amongst tens of thousands but also a way to learn from others. It will be interesting to see what kind of work other people turn in. I imagine the level of written English might be the biggest problem looking at the English errors on the forums. How to assess that? It’s amazing that people with possibly little access to English language lessons are attempting a course at this level and I don’t want to be discouraging, nor spend hours being somebody’s English teacher, but it is important. We’ll see!
So, back to the books I go. I’ve only got up to 1200 in my Dorling Kindersley ‘History Year by Year’ weighty, illustrated tome, which took me a month – since I also write down the most important/ interesting events of my timeline (it’s now my timeline, not the kids’. I have to admit it!) I haven’t even started on the course textbook yet. I feel a bit panicked because we haven’t even started anything looking like school, since we’ve been in Jordan visiting family for the last 10 days which came straight after our long summer break in Europe. But, deep breath, this is real life not a homeschooling fantasy and the kids are happy, well and always asking fascinating and thoughtful questions so it must all be good!
Wish me luck!
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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!
Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you!