Homeschooling: Time for a Name Change?

Although I do not believe homeschooling will work for everyone, it is a viable option for many parents who believe their children are not receiving the best education at their current institution.  However, after researching the multiple ways parents can homeschool combined with state requirements across the country, I realized that “homeschooling” may not necessarily be the best term to use to describe what some parents are trying to do and are doing  for their children.

For example, in some states, parents have the option of finding another person or people to teach their child.  And these services do not necessarily have to be received in the home.  It could happen at any location.  Therefore, that type of arrangement would not be considered  “homeschooling” in the traditional sense.  Some families form relationships with other families and teach their children together.  And although this instruction happens in one of the homes or several of the homes, again, it does not always happen in a “home”.  Trips are often made to the museum, library, discovery centers, parks, and other places where children can receive “real life” experiences.  As I noted in the homeschooling chapter of my book, Students Are Only As Dumb As Their Teachers: An Educator’s Call to Curing the Dumbness in Education, one lady took her children along on business trips across the country and around the world.  So, much of what they learned did not necessarily happen in the home or through a traditional curriculum.

However, the term homeschool originates from the idea that parents, for whatever reason, do not want to send their children to a traditional school; therefore, they teach them at home. But as the times change and life becomes more complex, people have found a number of ways and locations to teach their children.  So, it is my belief that the term “homeschooling” should either be replaced or used in conjunction with another term that fully captures how and where parents are teaching their children.

So, what terms do I think should be used to describe this new phenomenon that has happened in the home school movement?  Well, this could fall under the category of “althernative education”.  What many parents are doing could certainly be considered an alternative to the traditional brick and mortar education most children receive.  However, this term is already being used to describe a process of education that has been designed for students who may not be able to function in the regular school environment.  However, these students still attend a traditional school.  The difference is only in the methods used and the types of students attending.  But the definition could certainly be expanded to include how people “homeschool” their children. 

 There is also what most educators refer to as “Independent Study”, but again, this often happens on school property.  This generally involves a research project that the student is allowed to do in addition to or instead of the regular school curriculum.  It could also be used as a supplement for students who need extra stimulation.  But this definition could also be expanded to include how parents are teaching their children outside of the school building.

A deeper study of the state homeschooling  requirements  across the country and how parents are actually educating their children is needed in order to determine what this new term should be.  At this juncture, most people understand what homeschooling means, but I am not sure if most people truly understand the number of ways parents are teaching their children, which is not always in the home or by the parents.

Although many of my colleagues are not in favor of homeschooling, mostly for social reasons, it should not be discounted as an option for some children, even if it only means a small percentage of the student population.  Even if it means the prevention of leaving students, who would otherwise be “left behind”, behind.  After all, that is what the No Child Left Behind Act is all about, right?  Ensuring that we leave no child behind? 

Some very succesful people were educated in the public school system.  And although there are no studies that I am aware of that shows that they were successful because of or inspite of their public education, it is still not for everyone.  And even if 1% (although I think it is more) of the student population could benefit greatly from learning in another environment and in a different way from their peers in the traditional school setting,  I think it should certainly not be discounted by the very people who really don’t want to leave any child behind.

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Students Are Only As Dumb As Their Teachers

Students Are Only As Dumb As Their Teachers: An Educator’s Call for Curing the Condition of Dumbness in Education has finally been published!

I critique current educational practices promoted and used  in school systems, schools of education programs, and government agencies .  I advance the concept of “lockdown”  by examining the absurdity of the teacher certification process, how teachers are often told how to teach math and how this may contribute to why our students’ math performance has declined over the years, and how most teachers do not get paid more than $5000 extra over their professional lifetime.  Moreover, I challenge the very notion of “school” and question what it means to be qualified to teach anybody. 

However, I not only analyze and respond to how our education system works;  I also provide information parents can use to help their children be successful no matter what educational setting they choose.  The last chapter even focuses on how single and dual income families can begin the process of homeschooling their children. 

Please visit http://www.studentsareonlyasdumbastheirteachers.com to preview the book.  The book can be purchased from http://www.virtualbookworm.com/bookstore/, http://www.amazon.com, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, or enter through the “Order Book” link on my website, which will automatically take you to the publisher’s bookstore.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them on this site or send an e-mail to lynise@studentsareonlyasdumbastheirteachers.com.

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Filed under dumbing down, homeschooling, no child left behind, special education, teacher certification, teacher salaries, Uncategorized

Equal But Unfair Treatment in the Classroom

Several years ago, I taught the sixth grade at a local public school in southeastern Virginia. Our grade level was organized with two teams and each team was allowed to formulate rules we thought was best for its organizational structure. Since it was my first year teaching there, as with any new place of employment, I had to learn how to adapt to the new routine. During one of our team meetings, we discussed the use of supplies. Sometimes students are not sent to school with the supplies needed to participate during classroom activities. Colored pencils had become a necessity in order to successfully complete some assignments, so the team decided to collect boxes of colored pencils from the children who were able to bring them to school. These colored pencils were placed in a community bin, and distributed fairly during activities requiring those supplies. It was the first time I had heard of such a thing, and I was not very pleased with the idea. On the surface it seemed like the “fair” and “right” thing to do, but was it really?

But I reluctantly decided to comply, at first.

Students in my homeroom started to bring in their colored pencils and I collected them. And my students, without asking any questions, surrendered their pencils and dropped them into the community bin. Each time I did this, I knew it was wrong. After collecting about five boxes, I decided to give the pencils back to my students. When their parents purchased the pencils, they did so for their children to use in class. Not for the entire classroom community. There was no agreement between the teachers and parents to collect any supplies in order to create community property. The colored pencils were private property. Although it was unfortunate that many students did not come to class with the needed supplies, it was also not right to take the supplies away from the students. I knew there had to be another way to address this problem, so I approached the office staff for assistance.

I went to the main office and inquired about getting some colored pencils for my classroom. Not only did the office not have the supplies I asked for, but they wanted me to fill out a detailed request form. Just for colored pencils. So instead, I decided to contact the president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

I wrote a short letter explaining why I needed colored pencils, scissors, and glue sticks that I intended to use regularly throughout the year. In less than two days, the president of the PTA personally delivered what I had requested and assured me that if I needed anything else, they would help me. So, not only did my students who had their supplies keep their supplies, but when it was time to use the pencils, no one was left out.

I shared this information with my team, and they were surprised that I had received assistance from the PTA. My teammates told me that they had traveled that route before with no success.

So what exactly is the lesson here?

Sometimes people have good intentions but risk hurting individuals in favor of the group. Perhaps my teammates thought the students who donated their pencils would learn a lesson about sharing and being compassionate. After all, supplies should be distributed based on need and collected from those who can give, right? But what about the individual rights of the students? What about the parents who struggle to earn money so their children can have the supplies they need. And even if the parents are not struggling to provide for their children, is it not the right of the students to keep the supplies their parents purchased for them?

Sharing is a lesson that usually comes from the home. That is where children learn their first lessons about sharing. And as I have seen during my years of teaching, most students do not mind sharing their supplies with their classmates. But what also happens in the spirit of sharing is theft. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. Students, in the spirit of being compassionate, lend out their supplies but never see those supplies again. And the children go home and are interrogated by their parents about what happened to their pens, pencils and crayons. And sometimes even the cases! So the parents must go back to the store and replace what is missing. Is that fair?

But many of us teach our children these lessons about sharing and taking turns from a very young age.

Scenario One: A group of children are playing together. One is playing with a stuffed animal. Another walks over and tries to take the stuffie away. The children cry. The child with the toy gives the stuffie to the child who was pulling it. The adult tells the child who took the stuffie to give it back.

Scenario Two: A group of children are playing together. One is playing with a stuffed animal. Another walks over and tries to take the stuffie away. The children cry. The adult tells the child with the stuffie that it is good to share. So the child gives up the stuffie and finds another toy.

Although these are very generic situations, they are examples of how we teach sharing. Of course, context is also important. Are these children at a daycare, in someone’s home on a play-date, or at a playground? How we share and what we share is situational.

Also, I think it is a good idea to teach children that it is okay to have ownership of something as well. It is okay to say that something is “mine” without being totally selfish. And in order for humans to survive on this planet, some degree of selfishness is necessary!

It is okay to have a cookie that belongs to you. It is okay to take your supplies to school and expect to use them for your benefit to complete assignments. It is okay to play alone sometimes. We all need alone time. It is okay to wait for someone to finish using a toy before we use it. And if the other person does not finish, there are other things we can do in the meantime.

As far as the school is concerned, since it is the law for children to be in school, schools should have basic supplies for all students to use. This is an area that many parents fail to address at school board meetings. If an average of about $8,000 is going toward each student annually in a district, there must be some room in the budget for pencils, crayons, and other supplies teachers and students use on a regular basis. Teachers and students are the ones who stand to lose when other students attend school without the needed supplies. Students lose due to issues of no return or loss of items. Teachers lose by spending their own funds to support the basic needs of students in the classroom, which releases the district and individual schools from their responsibility.

Parents, teachers, and students should always use their individual judgment when it comes to helping others. Along with the lessons about sharing comes the value of ownership. It is okay to choose to refrain from sharing, if it means the loss of one’s property. Children need lessons about exercising discernment as well as sharing. Although pens, pencils, and paper are material items, they are items that are needed to complete tasks. Moreover, children need to know that it is not their fault that other children come to school without their needed supplies, too.

Another lesson that I believe is missing from the intention of my former teammates is the virtue of appreciation. Are the children who are benefiting from the donations of their classmates learning how to appreciate others who are helping them?

Although my child is only 3, I do not want her to ever feel bad about having things others do not have. However, I want her to learn to be thankful and appreciative when she is given things to have, whether out of necessity or for pleasure. Because in the end, it is not the things in and of themselves that are good or bad, but our attitude towards them. And that attitude about appreciation, I hope, was weaved somewhere in the lesson my former teammates tried to teach.

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Filed under collectivism, democracy, dumb, dumb teachers, dumbing down, Education, individualism, lessons, materialism, sharing, socialism, students, teachers

Hello world!

Hello!

Please read my first official Blog about compassion while preserving individuality in the classroom.  I hope you enjoy it! 

Lynise

www.studentsareonlyasdumbastheirteachers.com

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