Thursday, January 8, 2009

Review: Insight Technical Education (or: Further proof that you can teach just about anything at home)

You've probably heard this question asked a million times, a million different ways:

"But what will you do when it's time for (fill in the blank with appropriately "involved" area of study)?"

I've always responded with a confident, "There are lots of resources out there. We'll tap into those if we find ourselves in over our heads."

It's a true enough statement. Can't remember a thing about upper level math? Check out the Teaching Textbooks line of courses. Have a budding violin prodigy on your hands? Hook him up with a talented musician willing to teach homeschoolers. Need some hands-on civics lessons? Investigate page opportunities in your state's government.

The field of homeschool resources is ripe and growing, folks. Case in point: Insight Technical Education, a company that offers high quality instruction (via books and CD ROM) in the areas of accounting, drafting, technical sketching and graphic design.

Designed to be self-directed immersion studies, these courses offer far more than what I recall of my own days spent at the high school drafting table, when I was forced to copy a design for the same Mason jar jellybean dispenser that everyone else was making. I had no interest in making a Mason jar jellybean dispenser but, alas, 9th graders were making Mason jar jellybean dispensers. Period. The 10th graders were lucky enough to be making chess boards, but the curriculum standards had spoken. I was locked in; guess what my mother unwrapped for Christmas from me that year?

I'm fairly certain that I learned nothing about sketching, drafting, design or anything else in my own technical education classes. I did learn that my shop teacher had a thing for making sure that you sat properly on the ancient, elevated stools we used at the drafting tables but frankly, this knowledge has not served me well in life.

Imagine what I could have done if I'd been given a crack at the real deal, such as is found in Insight's products. My review copy of Advanced Complete-A-Sketch was thorough, rigorous, and chock full of so many truly fun activities (like making a paper model of a tank, a castle and even a parking garage) that it became an area of study all by itself in our homeschool. Seriously--I had a 6 year-old sampling the art of orthographic (2D) sketching.

A close family friend is an architect, and he practically drooled when I detailed some of the Insight products to him.

"If I had been given access to that kind of thing when I was still in elementary school or even in high school, I can't imagine how much easier my undergraduate work in architecture would have been," he says.

So seriously--don't sell yourself short when it comes to homeschooling. The resources ARE out there, and they are ABUNDANT. A little bit of digging will most likely bring you to quality instruction at affordable prices, no matter what you're looking to teach.


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about all this myself as I was falling asleep last night. If I had had access to much of this plus some good calculus instruction, I may not have struggled through engineering school. So much time wasted on "school" with no real learning going on.

RRigdon said...

Amen. Go aheeeeead.