More kids being alternatively schooled

348 posts / 0 new
Last post
Choccy's picture
Choccy
Offline
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 13 2008 01:46

I must have a look for that Avrich book

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Feb 13 2008 09:32

Wouldn't Freire be of interest to you as well?

Choccy's picture
Choccy
Offline
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 13 2008 11:29

I have some book of his somewhere I picked up 2nd hand.

Choccy's picture
Choccy
Offline
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 15 2008 15:17

There's more on the growing numbers of homeschooled kids today in the Independent
Record numbers of children are being educated at home as fear of knife crime, drugs, and bullying prompts more parents to exercise their right to teach their offspring out of school, an education charity said yesterday. There could be as many as 150,000 children being taught at home as a growing number of parents believe their children will do better away from school.

So the whole climate of fear is feeding into these decisions, and the moves to put things like metal detectors in so-called "failing" schools simply feeds into this paranoia.
Does anyone have stats on in-school crime and assault figures? Would be useful to inform this discussion.

Caiman del Barrio
Offline
Joined: 28-09-04
Feb 15 2008 16:59

Choccy I said that like 2 pages back. wink

Choccy's picture
Choccy
Offline
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 15 2008 17:10

Yeah it's not unusual to say the same thing as you when they completely agree with you smile

martinh
Offline
Joined: 8-03-06
Feb 16 2008 21:29

I don't think the rise in home schooling is just about the "climate of fear" - though I think it is a factor. It's much more likely to happen in secondary and home schooling is much more likely in primary.

TBH I think primary education pressures are as much to blame. My daughter goes to a large mixed primary (2.5 classes intake). She gets a shed load of homework. Her friends at schools that are, shall we say, whiter or more middle class, often don't get any homework at all. She's 6 - and wouldn't be getting any at all if we were a European country that doesn't hate children roll eyes

Faced with this pressure, I can see why parents who are able to opt out. I don't think it's simply the well off, either. It's perfectly feasible on benefits.

It's also worth pointing out that the anecdotal evidence here is from Conor - how it was great hanging out with his mates at school, playing football, swapping stuff etc. Some kids have a dreadful time at school and a responsible parent will consider other options, even if they prove to be impossible for other reasons like cost.

Regards,

Martin

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Feb 17 2008 00:16

Don't you get money if you home-school - like a couple of grand or something?

Choccy's picture
Choccy
Offline
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 17 2008 00:18

Yo MartinH I did acknowledge my own position and relative ignorance with regards home-schooling on the first page of this thread
Again, I also said I could see the reason why it happens more at primary age.

Also just because something is "feasible on benefits" it hardly makes it a good thing.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Feb 17 2008 12:42
Quote:
Her friends at schools that are, shall we say, whiter or more middle class, often don't get any homework at all. She's 6 - and wouldn't be getting any at all if we were a European country that doesn't hate children

that happens here I remember talking to a parent and she was saying a 6 year old should have more homework, she should have given the poor kid a hug. This is the same as anything else, if we can do it better and we have the resources of course we'll avoid the shitty system. We avoid it for our beliefs and practical considerations, so does everyone else, only problem is they have diferent beliefs.

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Feb 17 2008 13:15

What wpuld make it agood thing Choccy ?

Choccy's picture
Choccy
Offline
Joined: 9-12-04
Feb 17 2008 13:34

If it was actually good for kids long term and better than being educated alongside other kids would make it a good thing, not whether it can be done on a shoestring.

Jason Cortez
Offline
Joined: 14-11-04
Feb 17 2008 13:42

Well it is quite clearly good for some children, just like some children thrive in some, mainstream schools. Most home school kids are educated alongside other childen, the whole socialisation thing is a red herring.

Randy
Offline
Joined: 31-01-07
Feb 17 2008 23:54
Mike Harman wrote:
Don't you get money if you home-school - like a couple of grand or something?

Not where i live. We pay the same taxes to support the public schools, and get no refund. Not sure that is a bad thing, though. I recall the republicans were trying to give tax credits to rich families for sending their kids to private prep schools. Free enterprise as the solution to education, you know. I'm willing to forgo my tax refund, to head that nonsense off.

redtwister
Offline
Joined: 21-03-05
Feb 19 2008 20:33

As a parent of a 10 year old, I have had my son in 3 different public schools and a private parent-run coop school, not to mention that a lot of my friends have kids in grade school and high school and my partner is a high school teacher and I used to run the IT for a high school, so I have a lot of exposure to the schools at different levels.

The first thing is that I think that a lot of the schools are simply terrible. Except for the parent-run coop, he has never attended a school that was more than 25% white, and that was a very high-pressure magnet school for kindergarten (magents, for the non-US folks, are schools that accept kids from anywhere in a locality, like a city, and their original function was a way to achieve racial integration in schooling without really addressing segregation and racism, but they often tend to be considered better than the neighborhood schools because to no small degree they were model schools, high-visibility political projects, and getting into them requires the parents to have the knowledge or contacts to navigate the process of getting into the schools..)

First two public schools:
Average class sizes: 29-33.
Number of teachers: 1
Teacher aids: 0-1/2.
Conditions of the facilities: mediocre to poor (holes in walls, ancient plumbing and electrical, etc.) In the neighborhood school, most of the 4th, 5th and 6th grade were conducted in trailers because the main building could not support the size of the student population.
Student safety: mediocre to poor. In first grade my son was attacked by a 3rd grader in the bathroom, and that was not an isolated incident. And by attacked I don't mean he had a run in with a bully. I mean he had a kid choking him in the bathroom. More to the point, the increasingly repressive environment, far from mitigating bullying and violence, exacerbates it because the bullies don't care if they get in trouble and the kid getting bullied who fights back will get expelled just as quickly and be punished just as much. Defending yourself, something you could still do when i was a kid in school 3 decades ago is now viewed as unacceptable behavior.
Curriculum: terrible. What happened to skill and drill for kids? They can't do the kind of stuff that unschooling can, but at the same time there is more emphasis on multi-culti bullshit than teaching kids to read and write. IMO, the amount of socialization the school undertakes, rather than that gathered from peer interaction, is much higher than it used to be.
Attitudes towards students: In many cases, I find that the boys are assumed by the schools to be a threat automatically. Of course, this is much worse in schools that are predominantly working class, and extremely bad where the majority of students are black or Latino. Also, a lot of schools now don't discipline in the old sense, they smother in a form of subjectivization: how does that make you feel? How does that make the other kid feel? Do you feel like you should be better? As bad as the public school discipline was, since you could still get hit by a teacher when i was a kid, at least the kids could accept or reject it, rebel against a clear authority. This shit suffocates the kids, and it is really horrible.
teacher quality: poor to excellent. It really depended on a lot of things. Mostly they were terribly over-worked with little to no prep time during the school day.

Parent-Run Coop:
Avg. Class size 19, but classes were merged (1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8)
No teacher aids.
Condition of the facilities: Mediocre. nothing was terribly wrong, but because the funding was so scarce, the facilities were quite minimal. If you had a child with special needs, or special support, there was nothing. Less than the neighborhood public school was at least required to provide.
Student safety: medium-high because it was basically a school full of middle class kids, with a big touchy-feely aroma. not terribly hippie, more very liberal yuppie. But that meant that my kid and the black boys were considered uncontrollable ruffians.
Attitudes towards students: In many cases, I find that the boys are assumed by the schools to be a threat automatically. This school was much worse. It was like it was run by a liberal HR department. They didn't discipline in the old sense, they smother in a form of subjectivization: how does that make you feel? How does that make the other kid feel? Do you feel like you should be better? And they were a hundred times worse than the public schools. I absolutely hated the place. My kid used to bang his head on the table in class, something he did not do before going there. He used to cry whenever he could not get something. And he spent a lot of time in the hall or in trouble. He was pathologized and we were basically forced to seek a therapist to keep him in the school. Parents of 3/4 of the African American boys removed their kids from the school the year before we did, and we did so the year after.
teacher quality: singularly mediocre, but in this society that's what you get when you pay your senior teachers half what the public schools pay.
All that and we had to pay $6500/yr and contribute 80/hrs a year of free work to keep costs down.
Curriculum: worse than the public schools. By the beginning of 5th grade, my son still could not write in cursive, do his multiplication tables, write coherently, and his hand-writing was horrible, despite us working with him on homework for 45-90 minutes a night, in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade, which is a huge amount. In 4th grade they did a long project on slavery which more than anything seemed designed to make the kids feel bad and the white kids feel guilty. And on top of it they through in a nice dose of anti-communism in their WWII and post-WWII history, though why you are forcing history classes on a 4th grader when you haven't built up their fundamentals is beyond me.

I'll get to the new school and actual comments on unschooling/home schooling later.

Chris

redtwister
Offline
Joined: 21-03-05
Feb 20 2008 15:37

So the new public school...

Its a charter school, which is to say, it is public but started up by a group of people for a specific curriculum, in this case it is a language immersion school.

Like most charter schools, Year One is a mess, but the program seems a lot better. Many of the teachers are inexperienced, though the people who started the school run a school just like it in Prince George's County, which is near Baltimore, and it is a very good school.

Average class size is under 20, my son's class is about 15 kids.
The facilities are average quality, it is a bit complicated since charter schools are obliged to find their own building/location. So they pay a huge amount of money in rent, which limits their ability to do other things. They lack adequate texts and a lot of what they do as a result is photocopied or verbal, which often makes it difficult to know what my kid is supposed to be doing. The amount of resources are much better than the parent-run coop.
Student safety: mediocre. Several kids have actually been kicked out of the school for violence. One child in the fourth grade repeatedly attacked other students, very violently, for no apparent reason. However, the school mostly has kids from families that are very eager to get them educated and eventually into college, so the milieu is predominantly better educated, a lot of middle class, about 85% African American.
Teacher quality: varies wildly. Some of them are going to be good teachers, but they are first year teachers and make first year mistakes. The only PhD in the field they are teaching as far as I know is the science teacher, who was a college professor, and he is one of the worst teachers. He treats the students very poorly and simply seems to not know how to work with children.
Curriculum: I like the language immersion idea, and I think they will get to where the Prince George's County school is, but there are some things that need to be addressed more generally I will touch on below with public schools in the US. This school is much more concerned with fundamentals, its just fundamentals in French. The amount of homework however is 1-2 hours a night, plus 2 hours a day on the weekends, which for fifth grade seems extreme to me.
Attitudes towards students: Varies by teacher, but I think that the administration overall is much better, which to me is more or less ok. I think they have a lot of confidence in the students, and they are much, much better than the parent-run coop. My son no longer has tantrums and bangs his head on the table, and they haven't done anything special, frankly. He is not out in the hall every-other day. What they don't do is ask him how he feels about his behavior all the damn time. The teachers are almost all not from the United States and take a simple, firm attitude towards discipline. The boys are less vilified.

So here are a few things about the US public schools.
1. Standardized testing now begins in 3rd grade, with 8-9 year olds. It is repeated in 5th and 8th grade. Schools tend to spend anywhere from 1-3 months of school time preparing for the exams, instead of focusing on educating the students. Nevermind that I think standardized tests are inherently reactionary. Students in our current school take a test prep class on Thursday and Fridays for two hours after school. This is all part of No Child Left Unharmed, which is a law that effectively funnels even more money from poorly testing schools 9and therefore generally schools servicing working class kids) to schools that test well (and therefore are generally schools made up of middle-upper class kids). The only way to escape this testing is to not be in a public school.

2. In most public schools, especially in working class areas and cities, class sizes have expanded into the 30's per class. Frankly, 30 first graders means that teachers are herding cat most of the day. In high school, it means that teachers i know across half a dozen schools average about 160-185 students per semester.

3. Schools often feel that they cannot discipline students, but the conditions are so bad inside and outside the schools that they are generally chaotic, and schools resort to this creepy subjectivizing of students. In many cases, especially among working class families, parents I know want to be able to come to the school and beat their kids asses if they get into trouble. They feel that they ought to be able to walk into the class and smack their kid.

4. The schools in many places really aren't safe. Guns are frequent. I have attended too many funerals for my partner's students or family members (often also teenagers) killed on the streets. So while it is true that the killings are usually not in the school (though not a few of them occurred on the way to or from school), most of the students my partner has had in high school have family or close friends who have been killed (usually shot) while they were high school students. In some cities, gang recruitment is also frequent, and happens in school as much as outside of school. Even at one of the 3 public college preparatory schools, where my wife taught, a female student was severely beaten by other female students outside the school, involving something like 20 kids. All of the kids were students at the college prep school.

two things are clear to me from this:
A. The successful breaking of working class resistance in the 1980's, and the resulting de-industrialization, downsizing, outsourcing, and financialization have left a large part of the lower layers of the working class utterly destitute. The slashing of public welfare programs has exacerbated this problem by a huge amount.
B. The massive expansion of the illegal drug trade took the place of the income no longer coming in. The drug trade is omnipresent, socially corrosive and atomizing, and extremely violent. It goes hand-in-hand with a spectacular culture that actually markets gangsterism as a lifestyle. And lots of people end up dependent on it. If you make more in two days cutting hair for thugs than you make in a week working in as a nurse or nurse aid in a retirement home, guess what? Baltimore, IMO, has been savaged by this much worse than Chicago, but it is common in most cities in the US, it is only a matter of degree.

5. Dropout rates after the 2nd year of high school are very high, especially among young men. In Baltmiore over 1/3 of young black men drop out before their finishing high school, and the school system is financially structured around that happening. If those kids didn't drop out, the schools would immediately face a huge financial crisis, beyond the one they are perpetually in anyway as funding is cut.

6. Curriculum design is horrible. State and local curriculum guidelines lack coherence, do not build on skills systematically, and are geared towards passing state and federal standarized tests. Science is marginalized, fundamental skills are not built. As many problems as my son has had in school, he already reads at a level beyond what many high school freshmen in the poorest schools can do. Failure, very severe failure, to educate is happening at the grade school level.

Some of this is based on research, some of this based on the experiences of myself, my partner, the teachers she has taught with in half a dozen schools in two different cities, and the students I have known outside of this. Very little in my educational personal experience comes close to this, and I primarily went to schools servicing working class and lower-middle class communities until high school. Even with that, I had a better base education, with far less homework, than most of the kids I see coming into the high schools.

So that's a small part of my take on public education in the US. I cannot speak to suburban schools as I haven't been to one since 7th grade, and that was briefly. I know some of them are in the same state as the city schools, but it is often exactly schooling that leads parents to leave the cities and go to the suburbs in order to escape the poor conditions, or to send their kids secular or religious private schools. And of course a lot of it is racialized because poverty in this country is racialized. So in Chicago, the whitest major city in the United States (over 50% white), about 12-15% of white school-aged kids go to public schools. The other 85-88% attend some form of private school. Chicago is a bit extreme, but the difference is largely one of degree.

Chris

redtwister
Offline
Joined: 21-03-05
Feb 20 2008 16:02

So deschooling/unschooling/home schooling...

Frankly, I completely understand it. I am constantly tempted to do it, but it requires 1) a sufficient income to leave one person at home more or less full time, 2) the resources to be able to raise your child's educational level, and 3) a serious commitment to structuring your day around doing this creatively so that you don't burn out. Also, after 8th grade, it just really isn't feasible, but it is prior to 8th grade that most of the damage is done, so doing it in high school is frankly unnecessary from an educational point of view.

Given the educational level of many educators in the US, they have a Masters, if they have one, in education more likely than in a field. To teach, they have to have a degree eventually in education, either a Bachelors or Masters. So many teachers have a Bachelors degree in education, not in a particular field they are going to teach. As a result, I don't think most teachers are more educated in what they teach than any other college graduate. They get trained in "educational techniques", "curriculum development", etc. more than they do the subject they will be teaching. This does not mean that many teachers are not passionate about what they teach, but that is usually only in high school because before that the teachers teach a bit of everything.

I certainly am more well-educated than most of the primary school teachers I know, and I don't even have a college degree of any sort.

Also, the schools as a place of socialization reflect the state of society, and the US is a fucking shit hole. So the socialization is for shit too. As an only child, my son probably suffers more from that, in terms of socialization, than he would from not going to a school. I have avoided the middle class schools exactly because I don't want my kid to get socialized around a bunch of fucking yuppie/preppie assholes (proved to me by the three years he spent in that parent-run coop with its pretensions of being 'open', 'radical', 'innovative', etc. Fucking twats.)

I don't think that there is anything inane, reactionary, or wrong with not wanting to send your kid to any school, and to educate them yourself.

But as I think everyone here knows, the solution to the problem of education is not home schooling. The problem of educating our children however is not a problem of public or private education or funding or whatever. the problem in education is just as much the general problem of the breaking of working class resistance in the US and the changes in the structure of the economy and society.

Public education, private education, home schooling... IMO, as a parent my obligation is to do whatever i think is best for my kids. Period. The variables that go into deciding that obviously involve both my values and my means. I am not some liberal with a commitment to public education that means I will put my kid in a shitty public school because I believe that State-run education has to be supported. At the same time, i am not going to put or keep my kid in some nasty bourgie school just so he gets exposed to Shakespeare at an early age.

Frankly, as a parent, I mostly feel fucked.

Well, anyway, my two bits... When I stop being angry (not at anyone here, btw, but the topic gets me wound up as a parent), maybe I'll think of something else to say.

Chris

arf
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Feb 23 2008 11:56
Mike Harman wrote:
Don't you get money if you home-school - like a couple of grand or something?

No, not in the uk either. Theres no financial help available to homeschoolers. If you join education otherwise (£20 ish waged, £8 ish unwaged) you can get a members card (some people opt out) that you can use in quite a few places for discounts. Mostly the discounts mean you pay schools/groups prices. The cost of our EO membership is less than what we would save on one visit to Paignton zoo.

Unschooling is what we do with our kids, its a way of learning or a style of education. We dont have formal lessons at all, we just do everyday stuff together (cooking, gardening, tidying, making/fixing stuff, nintendo, reading, playing games, knitting, drawing, watching movies, etc) and when the kids show interest in something we spend time doing and learning about it. We dont worry about what level we should start at, or stuidying stuff we're not interested in in order to eventually get to what we want to learn, we simply choose what we are interested in and start there, use our interest as a way in to the whole subject rather than the subject as a way in to our specific interest. We dont set time limits on this, either, theres no daily timetable and we dont have a set cut off point "we'll do this for january" or whatever. When people talk about unschooling theyre mostly talking about a style of learning that is led by the person who is doing the learning, in their own time and in the way that works best for them. It also means learning from everything around us, and acknowledging that we learn from everything, that learning is not something we just do sat down having lessons. We dont have a heirarchy either of stuff that is important to learn vs stuff that is frivolous.

We're not wealthy, im not middle class, we're not religious, but i guess my straighter friends would probably call us hippies. Doesnt really bother me tbh, i dont think we're hippies but i dont think hippies are bad people. I dont think all hippies are the same either, i dont really get the anti-hippy thing here. It seems sort of snobby and ageist, with its implication that what hippies do or care about is out of date and what todays modern anarchist hipsters do is better.

choccy- on socialisation - home ed kids do not get less socialisation than schooled kids, and schooled kids do not all get the same socialisation any more than HE kids do. I wish there was more organised stuff for kids to go to every week but there isnt, not thats free anyway. But our kids still get plenty of opportunities to hang out with other kids, as well as lots of opportunities to spend time among adults just being part of stuff, rather than being shoved elsewhere. School is hardly the best place for socialisation anyway, imo.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Feb 23 2008 12:22

Just a couple of questions arf, what do you do about things that are necessary, such as reading and writing? (if you think there is such a thing) do you encourage your kids to take an interest or do you just wait until they want to?
I see your point about socialisation but I have found that this can end up with children who are socialised to relations with adults and not so well with their peers (I've sen this happen with schooled kids too), do you find this a problem? One more thing, do you find that there are any negative effects for the child of spending so much time with a parent? (In the sense that the majority of their socialisation is based around a relationship that is basically unique)

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
Feb 23 2008 14:59
arf wrote:
Unschooling is what we do with our kids, its a way of learning or a style of education. We dont have formal lessons at all, we just do everyday stuff together (cooking, gardening, tidying, making/fixing stuff, nintendo, reading, playing games, knitting, drawing, watching movies, etc) and when the kids show interest in something we spend time doing and learning about it. We dont worry about what level we should start at, or stuidying stuff we're not interested in in order to eventually get to what we want to learn, we simply choose what we are interested in and start there, use our interest as a way in to the whole subject rather than the subject as a way in to our specific interest. We dont set time limits on this, either, theres no daily timetable and we dont have a set cut off point "we'll do this for january" or whatever. When people talk about unschooling theyre mostly talking about a style of learning that is led by the person who is doing the learning, in their own time and in the way that works best for them. It also means learning from everything around us, and acknowledging that we learn from everything, that learning is not something we just do sat down having lessons. We dont have a heirarchy either of stuff that is important to learn vs stuff that is frivolous.

No offence, but don't you think that kids need a bit of structure and discipline to learn well? I mean, most kids fucking hate maths, but they've got to learn it at some point, waiting for them to take an interest in algebra or statistics could take forever.

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
Feb 23 2008 15:04
Quote:
Also, a lot of schools now don't discipline in the old sense, they smother in a form of subjectivization: how does that make you feel? How does that make the other kid feel? Do you feel like you should be better? As bad as the public school discipline was, since you could still get hit by a teacher when i was a kid, at least the kids could accept or reject it, rebel against a clear authority. This shit suffocates the kids, and it is really horrible.

One of my aunts teaches in a primary school (K-6 in the US, right?), the head's well into this shit. Last year she went on a training course by some loony American psychologist and blew half the budget on training DVDs and special conflict resolution mats (I kid you not, fucking conflict resolution mats). The staff have to bring their own stationary in because for some reason the school can't afford it roll eyes

Thora
Offline
Joined: 17-06-04
Feb 23 2008 21:14
madashell wrote:
arf wrote:
Unschooling is what we do with our kids, its a way of learning or a style of education. We dont have formal lessons at all, we just do everyday stuff together (cooking, gardening, tidying, making/fixing stuff, nintendo, reading, playing games, knitting, drawing, watching movies, etc) and when the kids show interest in something we spend time doing and learning about it. We dont worry about what level we should start at, or stuidying stuff we're not interested in in order to eventually get to what we want to learn, we simply choose what we are interested in and start there, use our interest as a way in to the whole subject rather than the subject as a way in to our specific interest. We dont set time limits on this, either, theres no daily timetable and we dont have a set cut off point "we'll do this for january" or whatever. When people talk about unschooling theyre mostly talking about a style of learning that is led by the person who is doing the learning, in their own time and in the way that works best for them. It also means learning from everything around us, and acknowledging that we learn from everything, that learning is not something we just do sat down having lessons. We dont have a heirarchy either of stuff that is important to learn vs stuff that is frivolous.

No offence, but don't you think that kids need a bit of structure and discipline to learn well? I mean, most kids fucking hate maths, but they've got to learn it at some point, waiting for them to take an interest in algebra or statistics could take forever.

Can't say I've ever used algebra or statistics tbh. Can't kids just learn to use the maths they need? In working out proportions for baking, or discounts in shops or whatever. If one of arf's kids is a mathematical genius and loves algebra then they can pursue that if they want.

Most kids hate maths because it's taught in a classroom, with lessons lasting longer than their attention spans, and with little conection to the reality of their lives.

welshboy's picture
welshboy
Offline
Joined: 11-05-06
Feb 23 2008 21:40

Yet another anecdote.

A traveller friend of mine who home schooled till her boy was old enough for comprehensive taught her son fractions with water butts i.e fetch a quater of a butt of water from the stand pipe and things like that.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Feb 24 2008 03:54

maths is very useful but requires a teacher that can make it seem that way to a child.

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
Feb 24 2008 13:11
Thora wrote:
Can't say I've ever used algebra or statistics tbh. Can't kids just learn to use the maths they need? In working out proportions for baking, or discounts in shops or whatever. If one of arf's kids is a mathematical genius and loves algebra then they can pursue that if they want.

Most kids hate maths because it's taught in a classroom, with lessons lasting longer than their attention spans, and with little conection to the reality of their lives.

Oh aye, because what we really need is a society of undereducated bumpkins who're incapable of thinking past the end of their own street.
.
Mathematics is important, particularly if you want to really understand, say, engineering or computers, two things that are becoming more and more integral to the way society works, and personally, I think it's important that everybody knows how these things run. The trick is teaching it in a way that seems interesting, instead of abandonning kids who have trouble with it at the first hurdle.

arf
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Feb 24 2008 13:42

I dont do lessons in reading and writing. We read and write. I read a lot anyway and i supply a lot of books, the kids pick up on my enthusiasm and interest and do it themselves. They do a lot of scribbling and drawing and shes been writing and reading for ages now, with not a single lesson. We sang the abcs song with her, if that counts. She's also been using the pc since she was about 3, thats where she first learned to write her name, then shed write it on her pictures.

We havent done any maths lessons, but she can count to a hundred on her own which she learned just by counting stuff together, mostly singing. Dot to dots are pretty good for that too. We havent done time tables or anything, shes only five, but she understands the concepts of adding and subtracting. She can read the time and a compass, we've been playing with magnets so i think between that and some of the kitchen stuff we do we could say we cover some science. She was there when her brother was born, we involved her completely in that, (she probably knows more about pregnancy and birth than some of you do grin) and we talk about how our bodies work, she also knows about lungs and heartbeats and breathing and digestion.. None of this is in lessons, its just stuff we talk about. She does a lot of crafty stuff, she knitted herself a hat and a scarf this winter, she does painting and drawing, beading, sticking, colouring in.. We play zelda together, and that gave me the opportunity to teach her about the points on the compass, but its good for her memory too - she plays all the songs, works out where we're supposed to go next, sets the wind so we go in the right direction, does all of the getting-there stuff, and i kill the monsters. We're a team grin I know some people think video games arent educational or useful but it depends how you use them really. We do puzzles and lego and all that as well.

Mostly what we do is talk. We talk about what we're doing and why. We talk about stuff we see around us. We make games and songs up a lot. The kids will probably begin their maths doing shopping or drawing and measuring. They both play with measuring tapes already and she reads off the numbers. Maths isnt something you have to learn in lessons, like Thora says you learn just by doing stuff, every day. When i was in school i was really good at maths, but i didnt learn much at all from teachers. Most of the stuff i know anything about ive taught myself, either through experience and puzzle solving or through reading about it and trying it out. We're here to help whenever the kids need it but i think people learn better if they develop their own interests than if theyre under pressure to learn specific things at a specific time in a specific order.

Learning by doing is something that unschooling home edders have been doing for decades but its a fairly new concept in schools. Its also difficult to achieve in schools because it has to still be done within a curriculum - so the same stuff is being taught or expected, just the method of teaching is a little bit different. Also at home theres more help and time available to the kids, its not thirty kids in a classroom waiting their turn to ask a question or get a bit of help.

If i was gonna recommend any single author on HE stuff it would be John Holt. Start with any book, it doesnt matter, i find everything ive read by him really inspiring.

arf
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Feb 24 2008 13:46
madashell wrote:
Thora wrote:
Can't say I've ever used algebra or statistics tbh. Can't kids just learn to use the maths they need? In working out proportions for baking, or discounts in shops or whatever. If one of arf's kids is a mathematical genius and loves algebra then they can pursue that if they want.

Most kids hate maths because it's taught in a classroom, with lessons lasting longer than their attention spans, and with little conection to the reality of their lives.

Oh aye, because what we really need is a society of undereducated bumpkins who're incapable of thinking past the end of their own street.

i find that really offensive. just cos people dont have an officially recognised education doesnt mean theyre stupid or uneducated.

Quote:
Mathematics is important, particularly if you want to really understand, say, engineering or computers, two things that are becoming more and more integral to the way society works, and personally, I think it's important that everybody knows how these things run. The trick is teaching it in a way that seems interesting, instead of abandonning kids who have trouble with it at the first hurdle.

so if a kid is interested in mechanics then we teach them maths first? why not give them the opportunity to learn about mechanics, and theyll learn the maths they need at the same time. the other way is backwards.

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
Feb 24 2008 14:01
arf wrote:
i find that really offensive. just cos people dont have an officially recognised education doesnt mean theyre stupid or uneducated.

It doesn't make them stupid, it does, by definition, make them uneducated.

I really don't want to offend anyone here, and I'm not having a go at anyone, but this anti-intellectual "Oh, I never use maths so why bother learning it" stuff really pisses me off. Leaving aside the practical issues for a moment, learning is a good thing in and of itself, maths is the language that we use to describe how the world around us works, knowing it can only help us advance as a society.

Quote:
so if a kid is interested in mechanics then we teach them maths first? why not give them the opportunity to learn about mechanics, and theyll learn the maths they need at the same time. the other way is backwards.

Because unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. You need a good grasp of the basics, the foundations, before you can move on to the interesting stuff. Trying to teach a kid about engineering without them first having a firm foundation in mathematics is like trying to teach them about Shakespeare without them knowing their alphabet.

Thora
Offline
Joined: 17-06-04
Feb 24 2008 15:29
madashell wrote:
arf wrote:
i find that really offensive. just cos people dont have an officially recognised education doesnt mean theyre stupid or uneducated.

It doesn't make them stupid, it does, by definition, make them uneducated.

Any education outside a school isn't really education? What a very strange outlook you have.

madashell's picture
madashell
Offline
Joined: 19-06-06
Feb 24 2008 15:38
Thora wrote:
Any education outside a school isn't really education?

Not a decent one, anyway.

Really good education requires structure, organisation, teachers who are experts in their field.