Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School year

It is the time of year when many children start their school year. There are many parts of our education system that I think could be improved (to be discussed later), but, with parental support, I think that organized school does work well.

Several friends posted comments today disparaging organized school and advocating homeschooling.

One in particular posted a quotation:
"We ask children to do for most of a day what few adults are ale to do for even an hour. How many of us, attending, say, a lecture that doesn't interest us, can keep our minds from wandering? Hardly any." - John Holt
I think this is misleading (intentionally or not). School is not one long lecture. In fact, many schools are quite interactive, especially at younger ages. Reading, Math, Art, Music, Science. Constant stimulation, and switching subjects. There may be other, valid, arguments for homeschooling, but trying to justify it by claiming organized schooling is equivalent to sitting through one, giant, boring, lecture is dishonest.

I fully agree that a 9-3, every day, same schedule is not ideal for fostering creativity and critical thought, but not all schools follow this model. My elementary school was fantastic. We went on at least a field trip a month - I remember seeing Charlotte's web, a musical about pigs, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. We also visited the science museum regularly (where you could be INSIDE a bubble!). We had hands-on science classes. I remember dissecting a cow's eye and a pig's heart. We didn't memorize spelling lists, we learned how to incorporate new words into our vocabulary.

I attended four schools, and unfortunately not all of my school experiences were like the one described above. But they could have been. They should have been.

And beyond that, my parents were active in my schooling, constantly supplementing my "formal" education.

That isn't to say that homeschooling is necessarily inferior. Specifically, here is a list outlining many frustrations of homeschooling parents. I agree with the writer that nearly all of these are also invalid arguments. However, just like not all teachers are excellent, not all parents are qualified to homeschool. But, I think (hope) the exceptions to qualified educators, organized or home, are the minority.

Here are some useful resources for those considering homeschooling.


EllenQ said...

Being inside the bubble was the BEST!!! Oh, elementary school. I agree with you whole-heartedly that the way to give kids the best education possible is not to tear down the entire system and send kids home to be taught by their parents. Kids get a lot out of school beyond the information taught in classes. We need to support students, teachers, and families, not constantly accuse them at failing something we are unwilling to do ourselves.

mathbionerd said...

I agree. And, contrary to most home-school advocates it isn't just "socialization".

And... my response got a little long, so I'm just going to post it on the main blog. :) Thanks for the inspiration!