What bothers me is homeschooling 'teachers' think that ordering up some curriculum or taking their kid on a field trip and creating a diorama is equivalent to a great education. I wonder if they know about Blooms Taxonomy of learning behaviors? I wonder if they know about the backward design process called Understanding by Design and how to plan their lessons so true understanding occurs and standards are met. I wonder if they truly know if their child has come to understanding. Because I still struggle with that one.
Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Behaviour and Understanding by Design are both conceptual frameworks. While they're very useful, they're formal framings of knowledge that most observant parents tend to develop. Reading up on both (I even found a page on Bloom's by a homeschooling parent!) I found little that was unfamiliar or earthshaking. The simple fact is that the knowledge those ideas contain is not sealed away from discovery by amateurs. It took study and observation to come up with the ideas and that's something most homeschooling parents (most parents period) do every day.
The idea that true understanding can only be divined by those with knowledge of Bloom's Taxonomy is a little strange as well and really demands some support. It would seem to be contradicted by the fact that learning and teaching have been going on for quite a long stretch of time before Bloom's contribution. Jenny does address this in a comment:
People have been learning for a long time, but we are in such a different world now. The jobs of today and tomorrow require so much more than teaching the 'old school' way. This is the crux of my viewpoint.
But that's wrong. She isn't talking about training for modern jobs (whatever that entails) when she brings up understanding; she's talking about deeply wried processes of learning that have been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. Evolution doesn't work in a generation or two or happen because micro-processors were invented. How we learn and how we understand haven't undergone a radical change in the last half-century and many of the 'old school' ways will be just as valid as they were a century ago or two millenia ago precisely because of that.
There's no question that some of the jobs of today require different skills but where's the support for the idea that in order to learn those modern skills we need a radical departure from learning and teaching styles of the past?
Jenny does ask this question:
My point was, how do homeschooling parents obtain the specialized information about what constitutes real learning?
The same way parents have always done, by observation. Also, by the experience of learning ourselves. Throw in bookstores, Google, and libraries and I'm a bit confuzzled as to why someone thinks homeschooling parents could avoid such information. Teaching degrees don't come with a secret passcard to knowledge that the general public can never access. At least non of the teachers I've known have admitted to that.
Another point from Jennie:
What about reading for understanding and writing with competency AND loving every minute of it. That takes specialized information that I have gather, created and tweaked (and still am) over my years of teaching.
You mean, just like many homeschooling parents have done? I've been homeschooling for 5 years now. She really can't be saying that she imagines that in that time I put no work or research into what I'm doing.
My last beef with Jennie has to do with selection bias. Her primary experience with homeschoolers and the experience from which she's forming her judgement that our children may lack deeper understanding comes from the, "4 homeschooled students come into my class in the last 6 years."
Where, I ask, do kids end up when homeschooling hasn't been successful for them? In school. Where do the kids for whom homeschooling has been a whopping success for generally not end up? In school. Deciding what homeschooling must be like based on those 4 children is like an emergency room doctor deciding that walking is inherently dangerous because all he ever sees are slip-and-fall injuries. There's an inherent bias at work and Jenny hasn't recognized it.
If you go over, go easy on her. She's written politely and graciously and would probably benifit more from a thoughtful refutation then a take-down. Besides, from the picture in her sidebar it looks like she has an absolutely gorgeous little boy (seriously cute, baby-crave-inducing cute. Be warned!) and so I'm betting that with a few more years of parenting under her belt she'll start to get how a parent can assess real understanding without an education degree.