The Perversive Effect of Tests, Scores, and Grades
I came across this post in my blog reading today and really enjoyed it. I've read similar posts and articles, but I thought this one was a concise and easy read.
I think there's so many ideas out there about why people homeschool. And truly for many families there's several reasons for choosing homeschooling, not just one reason. One of the fallacies I hear often is that homeschoolers are trying to shelter their children, protect them from the real world, and all that nonsense. Granted, there probably are some families out there for which this is true, but for most homeschoolers this is simply not the case!
Many many homeschoolers have a problem with the way education is run in this country. Kiddos are being pressured to perform constantly and with terrible results. With all of the emphasis on testing and performance one would think we'd be much higher up on the totem pole so to speak as far as our global standing in student performance. But we're not!
As a future homeschooler I have no plans to "do school" at home. Some homeschoolers take this approach and hey, to each his own. But if I wanted to use the school methods I might as well send my kiddo to school! Instead I scoured the available methods and materials available and settled on one that does not focus on testing and performance. Rather the focus is on learning. I can tell you from firsthand experience that a person can test well and perform without learning squat. Just drill me on things that I should know from my years of education (I was one of those "good" students) and my lack of knowledge will likely shock you! It's terrible and I feel terrible that I can't remember basic facts that I feel like I should know. But the reality is that I didn't learn these things. I crammed them into my head as quickly as possible in order to pass certain tests and perform well. The information was never assimilated properly and now I'm left with years sitting at school desks that could have been better spent experiencing life! I'm actually looking forward to homeschooling my own because I'll get a fresh chance to learn with them!
One of the things that we'll be doing different is delaying formal schooling. Some homeschoolers choose to do this. We won't be starting kindergarten at the age of five. Instead, until my child is six or seven we will follow interests. So in the eyes of others, he may be "behind." This is going to be hard for me as I want to prove to the world what a genius my child is and having grown up with the "performance mindset" it's easy for me to fall into the trap of wanting my child to keep up with everyone else. But the reality is, starting a child earlier on concepts doesn't always produce the best results. In fact, there's a growing body of research out there that suggests that children would benefit more from more free play at an early age. This free play is a kind of early learning that develops a child's creative mind and sets the stage for applying the formal concepts that will be introduced during formal education. But the reality is, with all of the emphasis on testing and performance, for many children in the younger grades there's just not time for both!
This will be a learning process for us. I imagine that I will learn many ways not to handle Boo's schooling as well as stumble upon things that work brilliantly. I hope that in the process I can keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for Boo's response to his schooling. As much as possible, I want to support his natural love of learning and be careful to avoid things that put out the spark in his eye so to speak. It's going to be an adventure for sure!