Angel Selden: Founder & Head Mentor
homeschooling her youngest son
World-renowned master violin teacher Sinichi Suzuki said, "Many people in America have said that children like me so much because I love them. I answered "Everyone loves children. I respect children as my teachers...it's possible children come to me because I radiate respect for them.""
I believe this. I radiate respect for children not only through trust and kindness, but by asking for their input and actively listening with genuine interest. As they teach me and their peers, they learn. I want them to feel confident, loved and valued when they're with me. This type of mentor-student relationship is the foundation of lasting, meaningful learning.
I believe all children are born with the desire, ability and motivation to learn. My job is to nurture that natural love of learning and facilitate the development of thinking skills, so they learn how to observe, think and articulate their thoughts; not what to think (spoon-feeding information, formulae and observations).
How do I do that? Nurturing a love of learning, and learning how to think, is best done through beautiful and well-crafted literature, art, nature and experiences*. I engage them with these works using the Socratic method--a line of questioning that helps the child ask their own questions; make their own observations, discoveries and experiences; and come to see and understand for themselves at their own developmental level. We research answers to factual questions together when appropriate (e.g.--"What is the tallest mountain in the world?"). This usually leads to unexpected tangents and powerful learning moments! We write these collaboratively on the Question Wall.
For example, here's an actual conversation I had with my fourth child at age 5, using the Socratic Method:
Instead of dividing the day into subject-specific classes with different teachers, you have one mentor over a small group of seven children the whole day, getting to know your child well while guiding explorations that span subject matter.
*This universal principle of learning is supported by research and taught in A Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver DeMille; the writings of Charlotte Mason; Sparks of Genius, by Robert and Michelle Root-Bernstein; Free To Learn, by Peter Gray; A Mathematician's Lament, by Paul Lockhart; and How Children Learn, by John Holt.
Angel Selden has been homeschooling her four children, and researching education, great mentorship, neuroscience and child development for 19 years. She earned a BS in psychology in 2003, but more importantly has had many life experiences around the world and read over a thousand great books spanning disciplines and genres, from classic literature to history, natural and social sciences, writing, business and biographies. This has given her a broad network of knowledge with some areas of depth, which she is able to weave into discussions with even her youngest charges; and she learns more and more every day. Her youngest son, now 6, participates in World Explorers.
Angel is founder, curriculum-creator and head mentor of 5000 Stories World Scholar Community, where middle and high-school-aged youth study and discuss great works from different countries and cultures in the context of history. Current courses include Stories of Russia, Stories of America: Black American Voices and Stories of America: European Settlement. Stories of India and Stories of the Deaf-World are in the works.
Her inspiration for 5000 Stories World Scholar Community came from living with a host family in Voronezh, Russia in 1999. There she taught English to kindergarteners through stories and play, and fell in love with Russian language, literature, art, film and history. She co-facilitates the Stories of Russia class with her former host sister, Olya, who joins via Zoom from Russia. In 2003 Angel went back to Ukraine with her husband, Neil (who also speaks Russian), and daughter, Lydia, to train volunteer teachers for the same program in Kiev.
Angel brought her book discussions and friendship to Dada Gaun orphanage in the Himalayas of Nepal with a group of volunteers, including her children, in 2016 and 2018. Her oldest daughter went back with friends to volunteer there for a month in November 2018.
Her essay "5000 Stories: One Mother's Quest to Ditch School and Nourish Genius" was published in the book "Why I Love Homeschooling Neurodiverse Kids" edited by Kathy Oaks and Bryn Steimle, and is available on Amazon.
She has spoken at ten conferences in Minnesota since 2010, including the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented in 2021, and alongside Rachel DeMille, co-author of the A Thomas Jefferson Education series, in 2017.
Angel also enjoys long distance hiking, culinary arts, and performing and watching live improv.