Friday, April 11, 2008

A Challenge on Revealing our Homeschools

Steve over at Steve Likes to Curse has written a couple of posts on homeschooling that have garnered a bit of reaction. The first one had some of the usual stereotypes about who homeschoolers were. He got some responses (one from me), did some poking around and then posted a follow up where he gracefully admitted his error, posted resources for secular homeschoolers and even a link to the Evolved Homeschooler Cafe Press store. This is a good guy.

He still has his concerns about us though.

I’d still be more comfortable with children being taught by teachers who have been to college and mastered their subjects, than well-meaning parents who are simply following a lesson plan.


For all its faults, one great advantage of public school is that it forces the child to interact with peers from different backgrounds, in an environment where they are not always the center of attention. Even in the best of circumstances, that's something I think few homeschooled kids get.


But wait! Steve also makes this clear:

Believe me, I'm more than happy to revise my opinion about this.


So this is what I have in mind. We could write some posts that reveal 1) why we're comfortable homeschooling without college mastery of subjects and 2) the diversity our children are being exposed to by virtue of being homeschooled. I'd prefer it if we didn't focus too much criticism on public schools. The issue is us and what we're doing. Just leave me a link in the comments. If you have an older post that addresses this better then a new post could, that's fine as well, simply leave the link.

23 comments:

sunniemom said...

Here is my own "Why we homeschool" post from way back. :D

Hope I formatted that right...

Dawn said...

Thanks! I'm hoping we can put together some sort of offering to people who are interested and concerned about homeschooling.

Dawn said...

Here's my own contribution on the first question...http://daybydayhsing.blogspot.com/2008/04/homeschooling-without-college-degree.html

Andrea R said...

there's an assumption there that teaches have mastered a particular subject to teach it.

Not true. Not even at the college level.

I mean, I can't tell you how many teachers I had that either didn't know or just didn't care about whatever subject matter they taught - and seriously - we all went to high school. surely if we learned something well enough, we should be able to teach it to others. If not, that says something, doesn't it?

And do you really need a mastery of a subject to be able to teach it to soemone else? Are we just regurgitating facts to our kids? Or do we want them to exceed our own knowledge?

Heck, my kids have learned all kinds of things *on their own* and a whole pile of other things better than I could have taught them.

The "you need to be a teacher in order to teach" is a fallicy.

molytail said...

there's an assumption there that teaches have mastered a particular subject to teach it.

I've always thought that a rather silly bit of blathering - is it to say then, that "professional teachers", in all of their various fields, have learned EVERYTHING there is to know about their 'special' subject? They know it all?

bit silly eh? Nobody knows everything there is to know about any subject. If they think they do, that's a problem in itself.

Dawn said...

I agree it's a fallacy. Most teachers I know went to through some sort of education program or ed. school. They did not get degrees in history and math and then teach.

I'm just hoping to create some windows though. Ways for people outside homeschooling to see in and test their stereotypes and assumptions.

nightwingwilson said...

Thanks for continuing this great discussion, Dawn, and for your contributions to it over at my blog. Here's my two cents, humbly submitted:

You homeschool experts have probably read some, or all of this before, so forgive me if I'm rehashing. Here is an article written by Greg Laden, listing his reasons for not supporting homeschooling. One section deals specifically with the issue of homeschool parents vs. professional teachers. I don't agree with every point he makes, but he raises lots of interesting topics for discussion.

Greg also has written extensively about homeschool at his current blog on Science Blogs.

For a rebuttal to Laden's article, check out this from Home Education Magazine's website.

Hope this added something. Thanks again, Dawn, and everyone else, for making this such a fascinating discussion. You have opened my eyes and changed my mind about a few things, which is reason enough to be very, very grateful.

--Steve

JJ Ross said...

Is Steve open-minded enough to be interested in the added info that many of us were intellectually involved with that arrogant pseudo-scientist Greg Laden's blog-slam of home education?

I saw next to no scientific inquiry much less self-examination in anything he posted in his massive prejudice about home education not to mention the wild personal attacks. To me as an education professional, that makes him easily dismissed as a charlatan, an obstructionist, certainly no champion of quality education for anyone's child in any educational setting, whatever one's politics.

It looks to me tonight as if some of our comments were whitewashed out of that link Steve gave, retroactively -- yet his chief syncophantic and misogynistic sock puppet's comments stand still. So much for Greg Laden's scientific integrity and credibility online.

JJ Ross, Ed.D.
Unschooling mom of two teens

Dawn said...

Steve - Most of us are familiar with Greg. I haven't found his arguments particularily compelling. Like a lot of critics he tends to compare the worst case scenario of homeschooling to an idealized vision of public schools. Homeschoolers can do that to (as you've seen on your blog) but inevitably it's a dishonest way to discuss and examine an issue.

On his first point I offer this post: http://daybydayhsing.blogspot.com/2007/12/reaching-out-radicals-and-teachers.html

I firmly believe homeschoolers aren't harming public education. That it people like us who propose alternate models of education that may help drive reform.

nightwingwilson said...

Steve is definitely open-minded to interested in the fact that you guys have interacted with Greg. Can't say I'm surprised, he seems to be pretty vocal on the issue.

Here's another thought I've had, that I was reminded of by something I read, possibly in the comments section of Laden's blog, and which my own experience backs up:

The defense of homeschooling comes mostly (though not entirely, as the comments at my own blog testify) from homeschoolers, folks who are homeschooling their children, or were homeschooled themselves. The objections and criticisms come mostly from those outside the community who have had dealings with homeschool families.

Here's an example from my own life. My girlfriend's father is a history teacher at the public school I attended. He was a great teacher, one of the best I've ever had, doing his best to excite our desire to learn despite the limitations of a public education system driven by standardized testing. As an incidental detail, I'll also tell you that he's a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps., and a very devout Christian who serves on the council of his church.

He works in the summers at a camp privately owned by close friends, which caters primarily to homeschool families, and his experiences with the children there over the past thirty years have left him extremely critical of homeschooling.

Among his most common complaints: homeschooled children have a poor sense of time, and are less concerned about being prompt. They often arrive late, which drives a military man like this up a wall. They react very poorly to being disciplined, especially when he yells at them for misbehaving (not excessively, I assure you; he is a kind and patient man, and doesn't enjoy terrorizing children.) They often don't play well with others, or follow rules in games. In other words, they don't function well in an environment removed from the direct supervision of their parents.

Now, obviously I am not suggesting that every child of a homeschooling parent reading this would misbehave like these children. But it's clear to me that these are not isolated examples. My own experiences with homeschooled children, through the library where my girlfriend works and where I spent a lot of time helping out, are very similar.

Perhaps some of it can be attributed to lazy parents who aren't doing a good enough job at disciplining their kids. There are too many of those, period, be they homeschoolers or not. But I don't think it's unreasonable for me to assume that there is also something inherent about the homeschooling experience, where the children are the center of their parents attention, where they are not compelled to sit still in a room full of other children, to be quiet, to follow a schedule, to be mindful of the time of others, where their environment is largely dictated and controlled by their parents, that results in this sort of misbehavior.

I know you all are doing the best for your kids, and I know that these negative examples don't speak for the whole homeschool community. Believe me, people like Dawn have convinced me that it is a much more complex and nuanced issue than I originally thought. But this is how it often looks to the rest of us.

Thoughts?

--Steve

JJ Ross said...

LOL - a Marine and Christian patriarch schoolteacher finds our kids not quite spit-and-polish uniform to his standards?? Seriously?

That's a GOOD thing in my book. But as I said, I was a public education professional my whole career before becoming a mom and radical unschooler, so I see both subjective sides of the case.

Here's a liberal philosophy professor who sees important positive differences instead (in a way no Marine patriarch should be expected to see things . . .)

sunniemom said...

There are a couple of reports by the Abell Foundation that are relevant to this discussion- Stumbling for Quality and Teacher Certification Reconsidered: Stumbling for Quality_A Rejoinder . Both are .pdf files.

As for the experiences of Steve's gf's father at camp- are these behaviors really inherent to HS kids, or to kids in general? I spent the first 21 years of my life in schools, got a degree in education and spent a couple of years as a substitute teacher and have tutored off and on for the last 18 years- and it seems to me that being late or not observing rules or reacting poorly to discipline is an inherent element of being A Child, not being a homeschooled child. And how many adults who never even heard of homeschooling act in such a manner?

So pardon the frustration when I meet someone who criticizes HSing because they 'met a home educated child' who was shy, and OF COURSE it was a direct result of homeschooling. Because we all know there are No Misfits in public schools. All the kids come to class on time, never pop their gum, or smoke cigs behind the dumpster.

Then there are all those who reject anything that any HSer has to say about education, because OBVIOUSLY we are all biased- so says the teachers and the union officials and the NEA, who can't possibly be biased or have an agenda that promotes their positions of power or their livelihood or their professional validity.

These blatant hypocrisies are why many HSers have a hard time taking criticisms of HSing seriously, especially when no research into education, much less home education, has been provided as a basis for those criticisms.

Dawn said...

//The objections and criticisms come mostly from those outside the community who have had dealings with homeschool families.//

First, I've met a lot outside the homeschooling community who also have very good things to say. I'm quite sure that for every negative you supply I've got a story of a college prof. who finds homeschoolers self-disciplined learners or a store manager who prefers to hire homeschooled kids because of their maturity.

We end up trading anecdotes.

Why should your girlfriend's father's experiences form the basis for a judgement of homeschooling? Does this camp cater to a particular sub-group of homeschoolers that don't represent the whole? Is the problem with them one of homeschooling or parenting? What's the environment of the camp? What kind of prejudices (because we all have them) might he be working from when he's making those judgements? Could there be a lot of well behaved kids at that camp that he doesn't remember because they don't reinforce his perception?

//But I don't think it's unreasonable for me to assume that there is also something inherent about the homeschooling experience, where the children are the center of their parents attention, where they are not compelled to sit still in a room full of other children, to be quiet, to follow a schedule, to be mindful of the time of others, where their environment is largely dictated and controlled by their parents, that results in this sort of misbehavior.//

I do think it's unreasonable. :D To make the leap from saying, "this has been my experience with the homeschoolers I've noticed," to, "this must be generally true of most of the homeschooling population because of things inherrant in homeschooling," is too much.

I used to work in a gas station where we'd be swamped with Americans during the height of the tourist season. If I had been asked to make an assumption about Americans based on that I would have said, "They're loud, rude and have a sense of entitlement." Of course, I hadn't met most Americans, had likely met many who I didn't know were Americans and had probably dismissed the reasonable and polite ones I met due to selection bias.

To make the leap to generalizations or assumptions about a certain population, I need data. I need studies and research. Anecdotes are shaky and untrustworthy.

That's what often bugged me about Greg Laden. Here's a guy who should know better. He's a scientist. Data is his thing. And yet here he was posting concerns he hadn't even tested, couldn't support and often posting anecdote after anecdote as if that would somehow add up to real data.

You have a hypothesis about homeschooling that's been raised by your experiences. But it's just a hypothesis and a hypothesis is just the very beginning of understanding anything.

JJ Ross said...

Btw, Laden's wife is a schoolteacher. And Laden's real problem with "homeschooling" is a political opposition to conservative Christian fundamentalism. Many of us "evolved homeshcoolers" started out trying to JOIN him in sorting out religion as no sort of "education" in school or out but the more we agreed with him, the nastier and more childish and insulting he became.

We didn't know at the time it was to be his online claim to fame, vaulting him into scienceblogs. Greg Laden claimed in an intense exchange at Rolfe's blog, that he has secret connections with some very big moviemakers and he's planning a huge nationwide project that will shock and awe us . . .

Come to think of it, Steve would find that whole post and discussion VERY instructive, I bet:
"Keep Your Radicals Free"

JJ

Dawn said...

When it comes to homeschooling on Scienceblogs, between Greg and PZ Myers and I'm often left banging my head on my computer desk. I really enjoyed the non-homeschooling posts of both but I finally just dropped them.

But...Sciencewomen (http://scienceblogs.com/sciencewoman - have to put her in my sidebar) has actually submitted a few posts to the homeschooling carnival. A Blog Around the Clock (http://scienceblogs.com/clock/) consistently posts the Carnival of Homeschooling. So there's hope over there.

JJ Ross said...

Hey, thanks for both of those, Dawn, it'll be fun to see what perspectives they bring. :)

lori said...

Hi there. I'm new to this blog - followed a link from JJ over here. I'm one of those pesky secular homeschoolers who doesn't have a teaching certificate and doesn't want one.

I just have to comment on the the summer camp stuff, Steve, because you're tossing out stereotypes left and right.

And we all know that when you use stereotypes, you make a stereo out of you and a type of of me. Or something like that. 8-)

Among his most common complaints: homeschooled children have a poor sense of time, and are less concerned about being prompt. They often arrive late, which drives a military man like this up a wall.

Yes, but that's HIS issue. He's dealing with kids, not marines.

They react very poorly to being disciplined, especially when he yells at them for misbehaving (not excessively, I assure you; he is a kind and patient man, and doesn't enjoy terrorizing children.)

Seriously, how do *you* react to being "disciplined" or yelled at (no matter how much the yeller says it hurts him more than it hurts you).

They often don't play well with others, or follow rules in games.

I've been homeschooling for only a short while, but I've known some homeschooling families for years. Occasionally, you'll find a child who struggles socially, but those kids are in schools, too. I think the "they don't play well with others" thing is total b.s. Homeschooled kids play with other kids all the time. In fact, they have *more* time to play with others than kids who go to school do. It's a false stereotype that they're isolated in their own homes all day.

Also, maybe the kids thought their own rules would be more fun than the marine's rules. What would it have hurt to let them play their way? And if they were all over the board with what they wanted to do, wouldn't it be the adult's job to help them come to a consensus?

In other words, they don't function well in an environment removed from the direct supervision of their parents.

This is another proclamation that stems from the false stereotype of home-bound homeschoolers. I'd say it's not that they don't function well when away from their parents; it's that they're in an environment where they're not respected and the adults there don't know what to do with them.

The homsechooling parents I see don't directly supervise their kids all day. They give them lots of freedom to explore and stretch their boundaries, while keeping a healthy distance and being available when needed.

The way I see it is that the kids don't like to be bossed around all day and have zero say in how/when/where/why they're doing things. The people who run the camp need to understand their audience: these aren't kids who are used to the Pavlovian, authoritarian environment of public schools, so they're probably not going to react to claims of "I'm the boss and you'll do what I say" the same way schooled kids will. They're probably going to want to have some say in their how their days at camp go because that's what they're used to. That's what I'm used to, too, as are most of the adults I know.

Sounds like, at the camp *for* kids, just like at other places *for* kids, the adults decide what the kids will do, when they will do it, how they will do it, etc., and then get all cranky and say the kids are seriously flawed when the kids actually have their own ideas about what might be fun.

Also, regarding this:

But I don't think it's unreasonable for me to assume that there is also something inherent about the homeschooling experience, where the children are the center of their parents attention, where they are not compelled to sit still in a room full of other children, to be quiet, to follow a schedule, to be mindful of the time of others, where their environment is largely dictated and controlled by their parents, that results in this sort of misbehavior.

Honestly, this is where you're just not understanding homeschooling and are making assumptions again based your ill-informed idea of homeschooling.

My kids have schedules, as do all real, live human beings. Do you not have to schedule your time on the weekend? Do you follow a schedule only on work days? Do children who go to public or private school only have a schedule on school days? No, of course not. We have a schedule because we like to do things, both at home and outside of the home. If we want to do them, we have to make sure we have time for them.

Tomorrow we have a light schedule: we have to get some meds for the dog at the vet and meet some friends for a hike. We might need to hit the grocery store, but I'll put it off until Tues. if I think we can create an edible dinner from the food we already have. Then we head out again after dinner for an event at a bookstore. All of those things are on my calendar, two of them at the request of my kids. That's real life and real life includes schedules. It also includes mindfulness of others' time: we all have to work hard to make sure each of us gets to do the things we want or need to do that day. We know that being on time at the hike is important, for example, because we don't want everyone to have to wait for us and because we most definitely want to hike with the big group.

As for being compelled to sit still in a room full of other children and be quiet ... for several hours a day ... well, I just don't see the point in that. In fact, I think it's counter-productive.

Besides, if the kids are sitting so still and quietly at school, then when are they getting all that incredibly vital "socialization" I keep hearing so much about? ;-)

My kids do sit quietly in rooms full of other people occasionally, as do I, because, once again, real life requires it. From those real life experiences, my kids learn that sometimes we just need to sit and listen or play quietly. (My kids do best on these occasions, btw, when they've had the chance to run around and play first.) But I don't think kids should have to do that for 3-4 hours a day. In fact, I avoid those situations if I can because I know it's unfair to them. It goes against their biological impulse to move and wiggle and talk when they have something important to say. Who wants to shush their kids for 3 hours? And what kid would want to be shushed?

Lastly, I can't forget to address the comments about kids being the center of their parents' attention and parents controlling their kids' environment(s).

Yes, my kids are the center of my attention. That is my responsibility as a parent. If they were not the center of my attention, I'd be doing something wrong. I won't apologize for that or allow others to categorize my deepening connection with my kids as damaging to them. It's astonishing to me how easily some people convince themselves that being FAMILY-centered is destructive, while sending one's children to public school, among strangers and with all its well-known and serious flaws and (in some cases) dangers, is held up as the *most* -- if not the only -- developmentally healthy choice for kids. I really don't get it.

As for controlling and dictating their environment, once again you mistake what homeschooling is for many families. Perhaps in some fundamentalist religious families, this is the case. I can't speak for them, but I would guess that even in those families, the children have more freedom than you might think they do.

The homeschooling parents that I do know have merely decided to not send their kids to the most controlled and dictated environment of them all: public school. (That's the place where kids are compelled to sit still, be quiet, and follow a schedule someone else makes for them, remember?) Instead, they've chosen to allow their kids more freedom, more choices, and more play time by "keeping them home." Ironically, they're out and about in the world each week, and the kids have a lot of say in what they want to do and with whom.

Wshew. Sorry for the long-winded comment, but I just felt the need to get it all out there.

Steve, all I can do is to urge you to question your assumptions about homeschooling and how you might, just might, be jumping to conclusions based on anecdotal evidence that seems, on the surface, to jibe with your assumptions. I appreciate your willingness to hear what homeschoolers have to say and to reconsider some of your beliefs on the matter.

Dawn said...

Thanks for the comment Lori! I think you came at this from a new angle which was great to hear.

Nance Confer said...

The bio from Steve's site:

I was born in 1980 in Hagerstown, Maryland, which I later learned was dubbed "the most racist city I've ever been to" by none other than Willie Mays. Despite that dubious distinction, I find a lot about my birthplace to love, and even more to write about. Right now, I split my time more or less evenly between my parents home in Clear Spring, my girlfriend Ashley's place in Sharpsburg, and school at Hagerstown Community College. I worked at a truck stop for 5 years, but bit the bullet almost two years ago and took my family up on their long-standing offer to move back home and go back to school, resulting in the man before you today: a twenty-seven year-old unemployed student with a lot of shit to talk.

**********

Best of luck in your studies, Steve. I'm happy to see you have time to include studying homeschooling. Give it a few more years, in between your school work, and you might have a really good handle on this diverse community.

If you really want to know about us, though, it will take more than a few provocative blog posts and the random answers you'll get from strangers. You'd have to actually spend considerable time with a variety of homeschoolers.

Assuming your point is not just to continue to talk sh**. :)

Nance

Dawn said...

A truck stop!! I spent several years working at a truck stop and it's, in fact, where I trapped, er, met, my husband.

Fantastic place to work if you love people.

nightwingwilson said...

Yeah, I worked maintenance for five years at my local Pilot Travel Center. Dawn, your point about taking anecdotal evidence to stand for something beyond that one experience is right on, and I have to plead guilty on that. You mentioned working around tourists; I must add that I could say the same thing about truck drivers, whom I met by the thousands during my time at Pilot, and who did not leave a positive impression, on the whole.

It was a great job to people-watch, and to people-talk, too, when I had time to actually have a conversation that lasted longer than a few seconds. One thing I learned from those conversations is that the general impression I got of the ill-mannered, semi-literate, racist truck drivers did not apply to many of the individuals I would talk with. The last week, I've had a similar phenomenon while interacting with homeschoolers, here at Dawn's blog, over at mine, and in my inbox as people have responded to the specific shit I talked last week.

All I can say is that I acknowledge and apologize that I have continued to generalize about the homeschool community even after Dawn and others opened my eyes to its diversity, and that I also acknowledge the many, many shortcomings of public education, and have never meant to suggest that public schools as they exist right now are perfect and the only acceptable way to educate children.

I'll say this on the socialization/behavior issue: there are too many public school-educated children who do not know how to conduct themselves in public, so it wasn't fair to me to apply that criticism preferentially to homeschool kids. But when you guys bristle at the idea of kids being taught to sit still and be quiet, I have to wonder what is so wrong with forcing kids to behave themselves and listen to grown-ups in settings removed from their parents.

I agree that telling kids to sit down and shut-up all the time can turn them off to education in general, kill their interest, etc. Personally, I've always thought it was silly to tell kids to use their "inside voices" during lunchtime, when that should be their chance to relax and socialize before heading back to class. While they are in class, I see nothing wrong with expecting them to sit still, be quiet unless called on, line up in an orderly way if the class have to travel to another room, etc. Some of you might think this is militaristic, but to me it's just teaching children how to behave themselves and how to function in a group without the group being taken over from the grown-ups by the kids.

I (if I may be allowed one final bit of anecdotal evidence) attended public school, learned to sit quietly and raise my hand and wait my turn and be respectful to others, and it certainly hasn't stunted my creativity or killed my spirit or taken away my desire to learn. What it has given me are valuable social skills like patience and self-restraint, and a sense that the world does not revolve around me.

It's sad that more public school kids don't turn out this awesome and flawless, so I can't blame you for seeing the system in a bad light. I only wish some of you guys would send your well-socialized, polite, well-behaved homeschooled kids over here for a field trip every now and then, so the bratty ones we have here in Washington County, MD could pick up a few pointers.

--Steve

lori said...

Steve, you're fun to debate with. 8-)

To respond (briefly, this time, I hope) to a few of your comments....

While they are in class, I see nothing wrong with expecting them to sit still, be quiet unless called on, line up in an orderly way if the class have to travel to another room, etc.

I see lots wrong with it when it's how children, especially young ones, are forced to spend the better part of their day. It's not the particular things you're talking about as much as it is how many hours a day they're supposed to do it (happily, of course!). Who wants to spend 5+ hours a day in that kind of environment? Not me, but like most adults, I have the ability to change my environment or find a new one. Kids don't have that luxury.

The environment you describe works against the kids, not with them. Kids have energy, boundless curiosity, and ideas of their own they'd like to explore and express. But all of that is stifled for most of the time they're within school walls. That makes no sense to me. Work *with* the kids strengths, not against them. Many schools give kids more respect than the public school environment you describe. Montessori comes to mind. There, kids can work alone or with one another (by choice) and are not only allowed freedom to move around the classroom and find a comfortable place to work (the floor, a comfy chair, a table), but also to talk with one another (socialize!) while they work. Montessori classrooms are anything but quiet, and yet all the kids are busy learning and not waiting for the teacher's permission to speak. Montessori schools, by definition, respect children, and yet they require no long hours of silence and stillness.

But my kids do sometimes need to be still and quiet. They learn this by watching me and other family and friends and by doing it (or attempting to) with us. Other people model the appropriate behavior, they see it and with my help sometimes, they are able to do it, too. It's my job to help my kids learn how to get along in society without squashing their individuality. They get to learn at their own pace and without threats of losing recess time if they're not up to the task that day.

So basically, I have a problem with the idea that my kids should be learning to be quiet and passive all day long, that they can't use the restroom without asking permission first, and that they can't speak unless spoken to by any random adult who walks into the classroom. I just don't see how that's good for my kids.

Some of you might think this is militaristic, but to me it's just teaching children how to behave themselves and how to function in a group without the group being taken over from the grown-ups by the kids.

That's not teaching children how to behave themselves. That's teaching them how to be passive and to not think for themselves. Maybe part of the reason they "take over" the group form the adults is because they're teeming with pent-up energy from having no ability to express themselves all day.

What it has given me are valuable social skills like patience and self-restraint, and a sense that the world does not revolve around me.

Well, first of all, if you take a good, hard look at America, you'll see that you're the exception, not the rule. But more on that in a moment.

You don't need to be told to sit still and be quiet all day to learn those things. My kids are developing patience, like most of these skills we've been talking about, by being in real-life situations that require it. A long wait in the doctor's office, a long car ride to Grandma's, a Lego kit that takes a couple of hours to assemble, etc. They don't need to "practice" patience and self-restraint *all day* to learn that they sometimes need to use those skills in real life.

And as for the "the world doesn't revolve around me" comment, that's another stereotype you're applying to homeschoolers without thinking about the larger pool of adults around you. The vast majority of Americans attended public school, and yet every day I see examples of adults who think the world revolves around them. They drive in the breakdown lane (illegally) to avoid waiting in line to exit the highway, they lie about their children's ages when going to museums and theme parks so they can pay less for their tickets, they stampede for the precious few available discounted Wii systems, etc.

In a country where the average adult lives beyond his/her means on credit cards, I think I can say that public schools have absolutely failed at teaching self-restraint, patience, and an understanding that the world doesn't revolve around "me."

Okay, I give myself an A for clarity but an F for brevity.

sunniemom said...

I see nothing wrong with expecting them to sit still, be quiet unless called on, line up in an orderly way if the class have to travel to another room, etc. Some of you might think this is militaristic, but to me it's just teaching children how to behave themselves and how to function in a group without the group being taken over from the grown-ups by the kids.

Other than in the military, when is this dynamic reproduced in adult life? I can't remember the last time I had to raise my hand in front of a whole bunch of people and ask if I could pee.

Did you know that in some schools one of the security precautions is no backpacks or purses are allowed in the halls? And that the only exception is girls on their periods? And how do you imagine they find out if the girl is, in fact, menustrating? And what does this tell the entire student body if a girl is carrying her purse to class? Sound like a real healthy social dynamic that will teach the child to deal with adult situations in the future?

Lori didn't really leave much for anyone else to say, :D but society needs to seriously rethink what traditional school methods actually teach kids. What is so great about passively sitting in a chair and being lectured for 9/10ths of the day?

There has been some great conversation at Lorem Ipsum about how schools deal with gifted kids that is pertinent to this discussion IMO. She has outlined three reasons why gifted kids hate school- 1)teachers who hate teaching 2) public schools are sucking quagmires of mediocrity 3) because teachers often feel threatened by gifted students.

If schools can't even deal effectively with the most talented students, how can they be expected to adequately address children with special needs?

That's my .02- for now. :D