Sunday, June 04, 2006

Detrimental Schooling

While reading "The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child," by Linda Dobson, I came across a pet peeve of one woman:

"I admit I sometimes become impatient with the zeal of first-year homeschoolers, and especially irksome is the tendency to justify their decision by denigrating their public school system. Of course, I am occasionally guilty of this as well, but here's my advice on the subject. Never criticize your local school in an attempt to justify homeschooling. Homeschool and public schools are different; both have strengths and weaknesses. Just because you homeschool is not as "bad" as public schools doesn't make it "good" either. There may be a day that your children enroll in school through a change in circumstances or change in needs or interests. children often have friends who attend public school, they will marry a spouse who attended public school, and they may have children of their own who attend public school. Discriminatory remarks about public school will be remembered in the future as unkind about the educational experiences of friends and loved ones."

I sort of see what she is saying, but I think most homeschoolers would shut up about how bad public schools are if public school proponents would shut up about how bad homeschooling is. I also think that the public schools really are a problem that society needs to address. Dialogue about the problems is imperative if the situation is ever going to change. I wonder if the lady who made this remark has had her children in the public school system. Because I have, and it really is that bad.

Via a poster at the homeschool forum, I found a link to this list about why our current educational system is detrimental to children:
  • Its structure, demands and curriculum are not child-centered or in line with developmental or learning needs
  • It regiments children's basic physiological needs and fails to allow children to respond to their own needs at times unprescribed by the teacher
  • The physical body is denied not only liquids, snacks and elimination, but exercise and rest (one or two "recesses" per day end around age 10)
  • Half of the states in the USA still permit teachers to assault children with paddles
  • It does not take into consideration that there are seven different learning styles
  • It provides no time for solitude, small child-led group meetings and independent study
  • It does not allow children to direct their own learning based on talents, interests and abilities
  • It fails to function as a democracy to prepare children to function in a democratic society
  • It is an institution based on control, order and punishment for non-compliance
  • Mistakes are not viewed as learning experiences, but as failures or infractions
  • Children’s effort and performance is graded according to the subjective opinions of a teacher
  • Grades are permanent, undisputable and are used to divide and "track" children according to performance
  • It labels children who cannot conform as "learning disabled" or "behavioral problems"
  • It isolates children from their families
  • It isolates children from the community
  • Children are forced to take busy work home after being confined for seven hours in school
  • Homework further isolates children from family time, play time, social time and time for pursuing one’s own interests
  • Children’s knowledge is assumed by using standardized tests designed to cater to those who excel at structured, pressured, recall of isolated facts, rather than dialoging or expressing knowledge in a variety of ways
  • It isolates children from taking part in contributing their ideas and talents to society
  • Learning is considered to be about "getting the right answer" rather than about the process of how to ask questions and where to find answers
  • Finding answers from peers or parents is called "cheating"
  • It is responsible for 1000’s of children being prescribed stimulant drugs for their exuberance, boredom or due to the teacher’s inability to provide a stimulating learning environment
  • It isolates children from interacting with people of various age groups
  • It creates a climate for children to isolate themselves into exclusive groups in order to establish a sense of power and territory in a hostage-like system (similar to prisons)
  • Its insensitive, control-based practices offer little opportunity for children’s voices to be expressed, leading to rage, rebellion and revenge
  • It is an outdated institution based on the work ethic of the early 1900’s
  • It has refused to modernize to meet the creative and intellectual needs and demands of a modern society

If you believe the things on this list, then why shut up about it? There's a big problem in our society. The homeschooling movement is an effect of the problem. I think that the homeschooling community has done enough research to be able to comment on it.

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