Thursday, November 09, 2006

Home Schooling Scientist Art Robinson

The philosophy of allowing teaching children to the point where they can teach themselves is, I believe, the keystone of any home school program. Art Robinson seems to have found what works for his family, but I find a lot about it that is contradictory. Two such things:

  • The children are taught to rely on themselves as their primary teacher, and Art advocates not helping.
  • The kids are not allowed to eat sweets or watch any TV.
If you tell a kid they have to sit and study for 5 hours with no help, and can't eat or do what they want. . .what are they really learning? That seems WAY more damaging to me than public school. It's like you are breaking them down. Maybe I am wrong though. I never had to go through that.

More or Art's rules for home schooling here.

Like I said, I think that kids should be taught HOW to learn, and from that they can focus on learning what they need to know, but I think that if you are trusting children to educate themselves, you can trust them with a piece of candy and the remote control.

An interesting article about Art Robinson and his family.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Latest thoughts. . .

On Saturday night I caught the tail end of a TV lecture on the history and legal aspects of home schooling. I found several points to be very interesting:

  1. Public school teachers are more likely to home school or enroll their children in prvate school than the US population as a whole. That says something.
  2. The idea that even if public schools turned out every kid that attended into a well rounded, highly intelligent and independent thinkker, that fact would still not usurp a parents right to educate their children as they see fit, and as the truth is far from that ideal, that there is even less of a reason to submit to the government education system.
  3. There were some more but I can't recall them.
Sandy and I are not anti-public school. Far from it. In fact, we think that public schools should be given more funding and improved as much as possible. It is not a bad system, as some Home Schooling promoters would have parents believe. The fact is that the system does not take into account the highly different needs of students, and as a result, children are taught to the lowest common demoninator. There is no real way to provide, at an institutional level, the best instruction for each child. The vast majority of teachers that I have met are nuturing people who do their best to cope in a system that demands accountability in the way of grades and tests. It's not that the teachers are bad. People who say that are just wrong. It's the system itself that is the problem.

One more thing before I sign off for the night. I was not home schooled. I went to public school. So did Sandy. We don't know what home schooling does for the health and well being of a child. All we know is what public schooling can do for the health and well being of a child. We are sure of the negatives of public schooling, and have been warned many times about the risk of home schooling. "Don't you think that they will grow up to be anti-social?" The fact of the matter is that no one has ever suggested that we would fail to provide an eduquate education for the children, but they are all concerned about social activity. I am sure they mean the social activities that come from playing at recess, talking in the halls, and riding the bus. I am sure that if Sandy and I decide to home school, we can arrange for the children to ride a bus a few days a week, maybe up to the Zoo or the Children's Museum, and will take them to play at the city parks with the other anti-social home schooled children. We were also asked about what we would do for gym class. My answer was that we'd probably enroll them in a class at the YMCA, get them on a bowling league in the winter, and let them golf in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Of course, there is always the opportunity to join sports at a high school.

Oh, one more thing. Possible sports for the kids:

Annika - Football quarterback (She can throw a spiral and knows how to place her hands on the laces properly.)
Owen - Rugby or maybe Shot Put. Possibly boxing.
Alex - Unknown. I can't tell yet.

I would be interested to see any comments from people who have been both home schooled and attended public school to see what they think, but I don't think many people read this blog.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Dangerous Idea?

from Roger C. Schank,Psychologist & Computer Scientist; Chief Learning Officer, Trump University; Author, Making Minds Less Well Educated than Our Own.

No More Teacher's Dirty Looks

After a natural disaster, the newscasters eventually excitedly announce that school is finally open so no matter what else is terrible where they live, the kids are going to school. I always feel sorry for the poor kids.

My dangerous idea is one that most people immediately reject without giving it serious thought: school is bad for kids — it makes them unhappy and as tests show — they don't learn much.

When you listen to children talk about school you easily discover what they are thinking about in school: who likes them, who is being mean to them, how to improve their social ranking, how to get the teacher to treat them well and give them good grades.

Schools are structured today in much the same way as they have been for hundreds of years. And for hundreds of years philosophers and others have pointed out that school is really a bad idea:

We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a belly full of words and do not know a thing. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. — Oscar Wilde

Schools should simply cease to exist as we know them. The Government needs to get out of the education business and stop thinking it knows what children should know and then testing them constantly to see if they regurgitate whatever they have just been spoon fed.

The Government is and always has been the problem in education:

If the government would make up its mind to require for every child a good education, it might save itself the trouble of providing one. It might leave to parents to obtain the education where and how they pleased, and content itself with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those who have no one else to pay for them. — JS Mill

First, God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then He created school boards. — Mark Twain

Schools need to be replaced by safe places where children can go to learn how to do things that they are interested in learning how to do. Their interests should guide their learning. The government's role should be to create places that are attractive to children and would cause them to want to go there.

Whence it comes to pass, that for not having chosen the right course, we often take very great pains, and consume a good part of our time in training up children to things, for which, by their natural constitution, they are totally unfit. — Montaigne

We had a President many years ago who understood what education is really for. Nowadays we have ones that make speeches about the Pythagorean Theorem when we are quite sure they don't know anything about any theorem.

There are two types of education. . . One should teach us how to make a living, And the other how to live. — John Adams

Over a million students have opted out of the existing school system and are now being home schooled. The problem is that the states regulate home schooling and home schooling still looks an awful lot like school.

We need to stop producing a nation of stressed out students who learn how to please the teacher instead of pleasing themselves. We need to produce adults who love learning, not adults who avoid all learning because it reminds them of the horrors of school. We need to stop thinking that all children need to learn the same stuff. We need to create adults who can think for themselves and are not convinced about how to understand complex situations in simplistic terms that can be rendered in a sound bite.

Just call school off. Turn them all into apartment houses.