Friday, September 7, 2018

Montessori in Middle Homeschool - Xcode

Last week I mentioned we are implementing a Montessori inspired approach to middle school. After giving the kids a long list of research topics mixed with hands-on activities and small projects to choose from, my son exclaimed that he wanted to learn to program in Xcode, an Apple programming tool used to create Apps. Well that wasn't on the list, but an acceptable topic none-the-less.

After completing three days of school he unfortunately hadn't gotten too far with Xcode, but had been very persistent and learned a lot. His main issue was getting access to Xcode which was a real challenge since he has a Windows computer. In what must be an effort to increase sales of hardware, Apple makes it quite difficult to run Xcode on a non-Apple machine.



He actually did get Xcode running but it runs slow on his Windows machine. To get it going, he figured out how to create a virtual Apple desktop on his PC. This was quite a process which involved lots of trial and error, and an unwanted bit-coin mining virus. In the end, Xcode will run on the virtual desktop, but runs too slow to be an effective solution. Next he investigated remote logging-into my husband's Apple machine to see if he could run Xcode that way. Well it tuned out that the best way to access Xcode was directly through an Apple computer. Now he is in the research and tutorial phase of learning Xcode. I can't wait to see where this leads him.

Most Montessori programs are designed for pre-school through elementary. What I like about the Montessori philosophy is that students are motivated by selecting their own activities. However, un-like an unschooling approach where the student has complete control over what they study, I like the way the Montessori approach sets-up the classroom and effectively gives students acceptable choices. I see our approach to education as Montessori inspired because the choices are given by the adult but selected by the student. It tends to be quite hands-on and often involves learning life skills. Since middle and high school students are capable of reading, a list of acceptable topics and activities for this age works well. Also, unlike the elementary years where students are learning the basics and have necessary manipulatives readily available, for this age, resources are gathered and research completed based on what the student selects to pursue.

So far this approach to education is accomplishing a few of my educational goals for the year including teaching the kids to persevere, making them more independent learners and getting them excited about school. They have been motivated to read and research because they have selected what they want to study. Both my husband and I assist them and try to offer suggestions when we see them getting stuck or progress slowing.

Although this project has taken the majority of his time, he has a few other smaller projects he is working on. I will explain more next week.

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