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Love for Learning
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 10:00 AM
Wesley Kring quizzes his students (from left) Sophia Louden, 11, Nolan Willhite, 11, Charlotte Willhite, 5, Haniah Kring, 11, Emmett Willhite, 8, and Ben Louden, 9, at the Kring home Tuesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Wesley Kring, center, asks questions of his students (from left) Nolan Willhite, 11, Sophia Louden, 11, Emmett Willhite, 8, and Haniah Kring, 11, at the Kring home Tuesday. Kring leads a weekly Classical Conversations learning group, which is a home-centered educational model that uses the Socratic method of teaching students. In addition to the Classical Conversations group, Kring also teaches an online statistics course and teaches with a home-school cooperative. Students Charlotte Willhite, 5, and Ben Louden, 9, (not pictured) are also part of the Classical Conversations group. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Wesley Kring enjoys being an educator, despite the fact that he didn't have much formal training in the field.
In high school, he received top honors in math, social studies and foreign languages. He went to Purdue University, triple majoring in mathematics, statistics and honors economics. He also got a masters of divinity and masters of theology from Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake.
His love for education started to come out during his time at Purdue when he began tutoring other students in math.
"Along the way, I discovered I loved teaching," Kring, a Madison native, said.
He worked as an accountant for a few years but decided to get into teaching in 2005 when he started working for the Michiana Christian Montessori School in Elkhart. When the economy took a hit in 2008, Kring lost his job. He and his family decided to move to Madison.
"When I moved back, it was easy to say I wished we'd moved back 20 years ago," Kring said.
Now, once a week, he works for the Landry Academy and teaches an online statistics class for high school students. He connects to the students via webcam and delivers slideshow presentations of his lessons.
"It's completely interactive," he said.
He also works with six home-schooled students once a week for a class he calls "Classical Conversations." Three families are involved in the group. Kring hopes to grow to 24 families by 2017. The group meets at his house, but more families would require a larger meeting space.
In a given day, the students will work on history, geography, Latin, English grammar, math and science, as well as activities in fine arts. And that's just in the morning.
In the afternoon, Kring works with older students on in-depth grammar and writing skills.
A major part of the lessons involves memorization so the children can remember important facts. Most times, Kring will go over the information with them and play a few games to help make the information stick.
The students are working on their ability to draw rough, freehand maps of Africa and Europe as part of their lessons.
Kring also teaches a co-op group on Thursday. He teaches a variety of subjects, from social studies and fine arts to statistics and anatomy.
"The challenge of teaching any subject is a challenge I enjoy," he said.
Fortunately, Kring has some test subjects he can apply the material to prior to bringing it in front of the whole class.
"I try to do some of this with my son before they come in and I could tell this was going to work," Kring said.
The program works with communication between varying age groups about different topics, which Kring said helps them to avoid any issues with anti-socialization. Kring said the fear of anti-socialization is the biggest negative factor he has seen against home-schooling by non-home-schoolers.
"The socialization that's taking place is real life," he said. All the children are treated the same, regardless of their age. Students all work together to learn and grow together.
PHOTOS: Your Story - Love for Learning
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