Episode 98: Delight Directed & Deep Learning

I think that we can all agree that one of the great benefits of homeschooling is the ability to allow our kids the time and freedom to follow areas of learning that truly delight them. And it's often true that when we are personally interested in an area, we tend to dive more deeply into the subject matter. In this episode I am chatting with Kat Patrick about both delight directed and deep earning. Enjoy!

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Lisa: Hey everybody! This week I have a special guest, Dr. Kat Patrick, who is the CEO and Head of English for Dreaming Spires! Welcome to the show, Kat! Today we are going to talk about delight directed Learning and deep learning. You aren’t going to want to miss any of this fascinating show, so let’s dive in!

Delight Directed Learning

Our topic today is delight directed learning for teens and how to do deep dive learning. I feel like with delight, directed learning especially is very easy to do deep dives. But tell us what you mean by delight directed and tell us what you mean by deep learning, because those are some terms you hear brandied about quite a bit in the homeschool world. 

Let's Define Delight Directed Learning and Deep Learning

Kat: To me they're kind of connected, but I know you can do delight directed learning without deep diving and vice versa. So let me just start with delight directed.This comes out of the Charlotte Mason method, which is very much about the idea that children are born persons. So about respecting who they are and believing that they can actually be self-directed in their learning by giving them a lot to think about. I think the analogy is like offering them a smorgasbord of delicious dishes and having them try some of them, you know, trying the different dishes and then allowing them to return to the table as often as they like. And maybe they want to finish the cheese puffs, but they don't want to eat the broccoli or whatever.


But at least they've tried the broccoli and this is the idea of giving them agency in their studies. And yet there is some guidance by the parents by choosing excellent books. When I say cheap puff cheese puffs, I don't mean like Cheetos, I mean something you've made lovingly and by hand that is nutritious as well. And the idea is that you put the nutritious, delicious, wide variety of dishes out for them, but then you let them make the connections like they decide. Having that cheese ball or whatever with broccoli on top actually is quite good. Making the connections themselves and respecting those connections as they learn more and more and more, I guess is a kind of rear view of what Charlotte Mason is. But it's very much directed toward the children having a relationship with the books, reading living books that have a lot of ideas in them and are very inspiring.


An example might be the book, Hot Zone about the Ebola crisis. Reading it while you're studying biology can really inspire the children. And I have a child who's a reluctant reader. She's actually graduating this year, but she first took biology about five years ago when she was still quite reluctant about reading. The very first book she read in biology class was The Hot Zone. And she read that book seven times before Christmas. So I was like, whoa, <laugh>, she's going back for the cheese puffs or whatever. But she was so inspired by that book and in fact when she was being interviewed for her university, they were asking her what book has really inspired you? Her answer was the Hot zone. And I know that the people were thinking, Whoa, that's a very interesting book to talk about <laugh> and be inspired by and be able to really show enthusiasm for your studies!


So part of it is a relationship with your, your books and your studies. But the other part of it, at least for my family, we did a lot of studying together for a very long time. And so my children have a really great relationship together. We read a lot the same books aloud together. And so relationship with each other and relationship with your studies.I really am encouraging my kids to have a relationship with their professors and their tutors as well. And that's also fantastic because it inspires them and, and guides them in models for them, people who love what they're doing. So that is delight directed.

A smorgasbord of delicious dishes

Lisa: That's an awesome definition. I love the smorgasbord of delicious dishes! So, let’s talk about Deep Learning.

Kat: You can do deep dive without delight directed and vice versa So I'll just step back and just talk about deep dive before I connect them. When I first started with English, I wasn't really very inspired by the English because they had us read those Norton anthologies of literature. In my Renaissance class when we're reading the Fairy Queen book, I spend a whole webinar talking to the kids about the difference between reading that book in Norton Anthology, which cuts out big bits and has like a paragraph that explains the book in vague terms. 

But that kind of idea of chopping things up I find very unsatisfying. And it's hard to have a relationship with that if you don't read the full thing.  So deep diving would be choosing to read all of book one of The Fairy Queen instead of the anthology version.

So that would be your deep diving where you actually watch the maturity of a student over a year just by reading the books, having relationships with the books, talking about the books, connecting them with other books, and films in your own life. If they put the work in, they just blossom to these amazing, mature, thoughtful, hungry, curious students. And my feeling is ultimately what do you want out of your child's high school if it's not this kind of, um, person, I suppose mm-hmm. <affirmative> who can guide their own learning and learn how to learn and, and make connections and just see a bigger world than what's in front of them on the page or in the workbook or whatever. So that would be delight directed and deep diving together.

Integrated Learning

Lisa: What you're talking about with deep dive learning is the kids have a chance to integrate their learning and they're able to synergize what they already know with what they already know. Is that, is that kind of what you're saying?

Kat: Well, yes. I feel like students in, in school can, and, and maybe homeschooling kids depending on how they're approaching their subjects. You can do the work and check the box, but it doesn't stick. And I just think that someone who's done a deep dive delight directed learning in high school is going to end up having so many subjects that they enjoy because subjects become connected in interesting ways.

Getting Started

Lisa: Where would you recommend parent start if this is their first exposure to this?

Kat:  The first idea is that children are born persons mm-hmm. So respecting that they are hungry for learning and want the materials that will really inspire them. And the second idea is that education is the science of relations.  

All of this is really the basis of what we do at Dreaming Spires, which offers live online classes in a flipped classroom experience.

Lisa: What's your number one question you get from people who are looking at your program?

Kat: I think people have the idea that online learning can be very solitary. Hmm. But I find that the live online classes allows students to come together. So, really online classes can be very social. 

I also get asked about how I grade. We’ve modified the  Charlotte Mason method to do this, which is basically read the books, and then, write a summary.. It's called a narration. If you want to know more about it. Karen Glass has written a book called Know and Tell. Additionally, we have “extensions” that are even more of a deep dive, like essay writing or transactional writing.

Lisa: What's one parting word you'd like to share with the listeners as we wrap up this podcast?

Kat:  Every year I end up feeling guilty, like maybe I’ll miss teaching them something. But my goal is for my children to learn how to learn. Our job is to teach our kids how learn; to learn, be curious, be interested, and, and then they will continue to learn throughout their lives. And then, you know you've done a good job because you've set them up for the future. 

Lisa: That's awesome. And that's the goal of, of why we're educating our kids is to set them up for the future so that they can live a fulfilled and enriched life and be contributing members of society.

Find out more about Kat Patrick and Dreaming Spires

Lisa Nehring
Let's Connec

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