Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Teachers Quit

***Disclaimer: I have a lot of respect for the many wonderful people I know (and those I don't) that give their all as a school teacher, to make a difference in children's lives. This is in no way an attack on them, but rather a sympathetic understanding of why they are frustrated with the confines of "the system."  

 Before we ever considered home schooling, I asked a good teacher friend of mine how to choose the best school district to live in for our children. She couldn't really answer that question. What I started to gather from her response was that finding a "good district" wasn't the problem- school was the problem. What she did tell me was that most of her time was spent trying to rein in rebellious children and establish her authority over a classroom, rather then actually teaching anything. She had no real means of discipline, and the students knew it. The administration was very poor and totally unhelpful to her. Much of her time was wasted with pointless paperwork to appease the "system" rather then coming up with new creative lessons for her class. Her biggest pressure was ensuring that her class performed well on standardized tests. The students even used this as a bargaining tool with teachers- threatening to purposefully test poorly so their teachers suffer the consequences.

Did you know that half of new teachers quit in five years? This would have surprised me before I had the conversation described above with my teacher friend. I googled "why teachers quit" received the same basic answers over and over again (scattered among newspaper articles, magazines, and the like):

Friday, January 23, 2009

Home Schooling Works!

Did you know that according to the largest national study of home schooled students,  In EVERY subject and at EVERY grade level, home school students out performed both public and private school students? On average, home schoolers score 37 percentile points higher than national average on standardized tests. Since one in four home school students are enrolled in a grade above their age level, this means that home schooled students are compared to other students in their grade, rather then comparing them to their own peers in the grade(s) below. Home schooling provides a healthy learning environment, the best academics, promotes family unity, and yes- even good socialization!  Get your facts straight, read the study results below, they may surprise you. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

What about Socialization???

The #1 misconception about home schooling is that it fails in the area of socialization. The real world offers diverse possibilities for socializing children besides just sending them to school. Am I claiming all home schoolers to be well-socialized? No. Just as I'm sure you wouldn't claim all public schoolers are well socialized either. Sadly enough, often the media quotes school officials as "experts" with genuine concern about the social inadequacies of home schooling. The problem is that they're unable to speak accurately about home school because they have little if any actual knowledge or experience in it.

Most misconceptions about home schooling, including socialization, are based on a false assumption that home schooling is, for the most part, school at home, minus the peers. In actuality, home schooling is highly individualized, and varies from family to family, but the majority of home schoolers don't use a school-like approach. Education and socialization are not separate from one another, since the whole world is a class room and children engage in many real-life activities. The typical home school day is shorter then a public school day, due to its efficiency, leaving ample time for other (social) activities. Children have plenty of time to spend with family, friends, other home schoolers, public schoolers, and the community. So let's discuss the social opportunities and benefits home schooling offers, allowing you to form a more realistic understanding of this highly misunderstood subject.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Real Work & Responsibility

Excerpt taken from an Interview with John Taylor Gatto, by Mary Pride, Feb 27, 2010.

"Nothing works as fast to give kids a leadership mindset, self-control, discipline, and a lot of good things, as work! Real work. Taking their share of the load, and that includes starting little businesses. My granddad gave me the formula when I was a kid, and I used it to good effect all my life. He said, if you find out something people need, and you give it to them cheaper or better, or you're just the only one offering it that's convenient, you've got a business! People don't care whether you're ten years old if you have what they want, or a hundred years old!

I had a boy who made $26,000 a year. That was 32 years ago. You can inflation-adjust that and say he may have even been making what some lawyers make today. He was walking dogs, also bird-sitting and fish-feeding. He had 58 customers, but he didn't do the work himself. He trained other kids to do it. He booked the business, and I think he took a 50 cent override per pet, so the kids were getting about $6 an hour, which they were delighted with, and he was banking his boxcar figures. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Re-Thinking Education

How it used to be...

    Upon our birth as a nation, "young people in America were expected to make something of themselves, not prepare themselves to fit into a pre-established hierarchy. Every foreign commentator notes the early training in independence, the remarkable precocity of American youth, their assumption of adult responsibility."2:5 There were no excuses here- ignorance and failure were thought to be due to poor character, not one's unfortunate, inescapable "placement on a biological bell curve."2:6 

    An introductory look at our history shows a nation busting at the seems with innovative, self-sufficient, creative, educated people- though school was of no consequence. We were brimming with impressive inventions and discoveries, because people had true liberty. They sought out knowledge of their own accord, and added their own value to society. Many common, unschooled people rose to greatness because they had the liberty to make their own way in life- seeking out knowledge of interest to them, and spending their early years in ways that would have led to police arrest today. 

    Consider the writer-politician-scientist-businessman, Ben Franklin, who left school at age 10, or George Washington, whose schooling was a mere two years, beginning at age 11, when he already knew how "to read, write, and calculate about as well as the average college student today... He had no father as a teenager, and we know he was no genius, yet he learned geometry, trigonometry, and surveying when he would have been a fifth or sixth grader in our era."2:31  And don't forget our founding fathers. "The men who won our Revolution were barely out of high school by the standards of my time: Hamilton was twenty in the retreat from New York; Burr, twenty-one; Light Horse Harry Lee, twenty-one; Lafayette, nineteen. What amounted to a college class rose up and struck down the British empire, afterwards helping to write the most sophisticated governing documents in modern history."2:25