Saturday, March 08, 2008

What's Really Wrong With Public School Education?

A dear reader asked:

Could you explain to me how the schools are not educating our children. My husband and I keep talking about this because we keep hearing it. I am very concerned about this issue and we both seem to be in the dark over this huge concern. Perhaps the problem is that I have nothing to compare with. Would you be so kind to explain a bit further about how the kids are not receiving enough education. Thank you! :-)
I think it's a great question. I'm not a home school zealot by any means. I did not, for example, pull my kids out of public school because it was a moral cesspool, because it wasn't. I didn't pull my kids out of public school because the curriculum wasn't challenging, because for the most part, it was challenging. I didn't pull my kids out of public school because the teachers were apathetic or uninterested, because most of the teachers were very good and did care. I didn't pull my kids out of public school because I wanted a Christian curriculum. Actually, the curricula I use at home is classical first.

Many of the typical reasons people pull their kids out of public schools were not the reasons I pulled my kids out of school. Mind you, as the kids get older, some of them might contribute to my decision. So, why did I pull my kids out of public school?

I pulled my kids out of the public school so they could learn every subject in a logical, make-sense sort of way. I want them to learn easily, quickly, efficiently, and I want them to enjoy doing it.

So many parts of the public school actually work against learning--there's the wasted time doing time-wasting activities. But more than this, there is no system for education. One would think, since schools are really modeled after industrial-age factories, that they would have a logical, systematic progression in their curriculum, but they don't.

This sounds vague. Let me explain what I'm doing and how it's different. The curricula I'm using --the math, the history, the geography, the hand writing, the reading, the grammar, the spelling--all of them, start at the beginning. So, this year, we are doing a survey of world history. Don't you always like it when you hear the story from the beginning? I know I do. Because of this, the kids know where Iraq is. They know the Tigris and Euphrates. They know the history of Islam. They know the Crusades. And, now, they understand better the situation in the Middle East and that it's a continuation of centuries of conflict. The world today makes sense. (Well, as much as it can, anyway.)

Likewise, their math curriculum builds in a logical sequence. Now, I have an autistic son. So rote memorization is easy for him. Comprehension in all aspects--from reading comprehension to getting the gist of a math word problem to understanding the concept of passing time--challenges him. The only way to overcome this, is to press on. But he cannot continue to the next phase of learning, if he doesn't understand where he's at. A logical progression helps him.

The public schools might cover some of the same territory. In fact, they do. In an example I've brought up before, slavery will be covered both by the public schools and by me at home. What is the difference? The difference is history, perspective, and context. By the time American history rolls around, the kids will know that the concept of equal rights is a very new and thoroughly modern concept. Slavery, in history, has been the way of the world and in some places, still is. This won't minimize the horror in American history. In fact, it will reinforce that the world has been an unfair place for a long time. Hopefully, they will be inspired to appreciate the freedoms they enjoy, and hopefully, they'll work toward treating all people without prejudice themselves. In contrast, in the school's curriculum, slavery will be the sole domain of Martin Luther King and a treatise on how America sucks. And this perspective will be given in first, before any context.

The public schools, at least here, are not dens of under-achievement. They are simply places of misplaced priorities. Eventually, the skewed perspective and confusion cause gaps and unevenness. Not to mention the emphasis on homework and busy-projects can cause frustration especially for special needs boys. And then there is the shortened school day and time for extracurricular activities and play time. And these are just some of the reasons why I'm home schooling--even though the past couple of weeks I have wanted to send the kids to boarding school, forget public school.


Anonymous said...

Having been gone most of the afternoon and evening, I decided to log on and check my normal blogs before going to sleep. I was very pleasantly surprised by this thoughtful answer to my question this morning.

This is a concern I have had for a long time. Your logical approach to teaching makes a lot of sense to fact I and most people learn much better when they understand sequentially. I have one child who is in GT classes and is an excellent student. He is driven and a self starter. Then I have my daughter who has her head in the clouds most of the time. Though she brings home good report cards, the work in her weekly folder leaves a lot to be desired.
I struggled most of my life with studies and in fact, have always thought of myself as "dumb." I do not want my daughter to struggle as I have all of my life. As I work with her each day, I can tell that she is bringing better work home. But I still wonder if there is a lot that she is simply not getting. I continue to give this matter a lot of thought and I so appreciate you sharing your perspective on this matter today. Thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

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