Daily, I read several Facebook/Twitter feeds that associate themselves with homeschooling. I have recently become aware of a tend that, at first glance, seemed innocuous but upon further reflection, is disturbing.
“…when does your school year end?”
“…we have school from 8-3…”
“we learn several subjects over the course if the year…what do you teach?”
I know these statements don’t seem bad on the surface, so why the worry? Because they don’t sound any different from public school concerns!
Without going into much depth here, our (the U.S.) education system is based heavily on the Prussian “industrial revolution” era model. This model favored a highly timed and structured model to educate the masses to work menial jobs and supply an every growing work force. Even our PhD programs were born of this Prussian system. We get obsessed with time/bell schedules, summer vacation, giving enough homework, etc….all because of our upbringing in the public school system.
In the Prussia system, only about 5% of a populace could go to a school that taught kids how to think, create policy, and become tomorrow’s leaders. The next 10% our so, became professionals like doctors and lawyers. The rest went to werkshule where they received a decent enough education to get by and work a blue-collar job.
If you are homeschooling and structuring it like public school (that most likely you grew up in), what’s the point?!? Why are we making sure our kids study Math, Science, Social, English, and electives? These are categories of what the public system says we should have. What about a kid who LOVES science…are you telling me (s)he can’t learn English, math, or other subjects via this conduit? I think they can. Technical science papers, experimental journals all need English skills….Math is a given with science…and so on.
Is it an important skill to memorize multiplication tables? (is it really?) Or is it better to understand the multiplication is a higher form of addition (and consequently division is a higher form of subtraction) and means we take a value and add the same value a certain number of times? Sure drills are important…but are they the only thing to concentrate on? It’s more important that our kids have the skills to teach themselves, think for themselves and research for themselves.
Rethink and reassess how you “do” education. What skills do our kids really need? Are they thinking, discovering, and experimenting….or reading and rehashing facts and figures with no real understanding. Is 90% on a test good enough? Doesn’t that mean they are only 90% proficient? Why not let them learn the material until they can get 100%?
To get some ideas of rethinking education I suggest this reading: The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan. He is the founder and teacher at the Khan Academy (Free Math Lessons) and he has some interesting ideas on rethinking education in America and the world.