16 Oct Teaching from the Apex
A Teacher’s Perspective – by Denise Leak
For our home school, the educational fire was lit when we began a unit study approach through KONOS Curriculum. KONOS, named from the Greek word meaning “cone”, is a character based curriculum written by two teachers, Carole Thaxton and Jessica Hulcy, who wanted to educate their students at home. These young mothers poured their hearts into creating a program that would point students to the “heart of education” which is a life built on Godly-character and faith. In the explanation of the program, an inverted cone is used to symbolize God at the very top, or apex, of our lives. The areas of study, math, language, art, etc., fall under the apex and form the base.
KONOS Character Curriculum, Carole Thaxton & Jessica Hulcy, 1984
With the encouragement from a friend, our family began this course of study with 5 children ages 8, 7, 6, 4, and 1. Each unit study fell under a character trait and included all areas of study. “Obedience” came alive when we studied horses and took a riding class. Character-based learning permeated the classroom and our home as we memorized scripture, studied history and the use of horses in medieval times. We researched horses in science and literature. We were engrossed with the idea of teaching across the ages with God as our apex.
As we reflected on our little co-op, we realized that we were approaching each day from the highest level presented in our group. Because our oldest student was 2nd grade, we taught from this grade level. The younger students came alongside her and absorbed the teaching. We called it our “Trickle Down Approach” to education. The information for each subject would “trickle down” the ages to be absorbed at the various levels. Of course, not all subjects were taught this way. Math and Reading were age appropriate. History, science, art, and other co-op activities were aimed at the highest grade level in the group. We were stunned by the student’s retention levels and ability to converse about the topics of study each week.
A Student’s Perspective – by Bethany Reaves
I was a “sandwich student” with one older sister and two younger brothers. I believe I can speak to the success of this brilliant way of approaching home school.
This idea was something we used during our weekly co-op days where we focused mainly on history and science. Our oldest students were 9-11 years of age while our youngest students were newborn to age 1. Some days we had class at home and other days were field trips to museums and science centers. Was it possible to have such a large group of students with a diverse age group and still challenge all of them in their studies? I can tell you, “Yes, it is absolutely possible and easier than you think.”
The “Trickle Theory” approach helps students hear and understand at various levels. As they listen to the topic of Native Americans on a middle school level, the elementary student (and even toddler) will be absorbing every picture and activity. In the same way, as they complete a high school level dissection, the middle school student is learning lab techniques that will carry into their own high school experience.
If you have a “sandwich student”, this is so important. I have experience with this form of teaching both as an older student assisting those younger than myself, and as a younger student challenged by more advanced subjects. This form of teaching is so valuable because it not only gives younger students a chance to rise above their own grade levels, but it also allows the older students in the group to step into leadership by helping younger students understand the topics. Allowing older students to explain a second time what they have learned only further solidifies the new information in their memories.
I promise you, you will be surprised by what “sticks” in their brain. Even if it is not uncovered until years down the road, I can promise that they are listening, they are learning, and they are absorbing all the trickling information.