Today Reggie took a final exam in his college Sociology class. It was obviously so hard, that the entire class had to come together just to pass.
Well, not exactly.
You see, “back in my day”, that was considered cheating. However, these days, it seems to be common practice.
Economist Peter Schiff was just telling this story with his son, on a recent podcast. As he was driving his young man to school, he was flabbergasted that this son knew the questions that were going to be on the upcoming test, had the answers, etc., all sanctioned by the teacher. Today, I know exactly how he feels.
Now, I understand that I’m not a certified teacher nor am I up on all of the latest research on the best way students learn. But I do know that one of the most fearful parts about being homeschool parent is the pressure we put on ourselves to live up the school’s standards. It may not be the current standards used in education, but those standards that we remember when we [were] in school.
Therefore, allow me to suggest a few ideas that may help you with your anxiety if you are thinking about homeschooling in the upcoming year, or feeling bad that you are not living up to a particular standard.
Rule #1 – You create and live up to your standard that fits your child
Living up to someone else’s standard is like trying to create a physique based off of someone else’s genetics. This is perhaps the biggest advantage of homeschooling, you can do what YOU want to do! As a very analytical-type person, I understand the desire to have a particular system or curriculum. I have to fight this every year with myself. However, what I had to realize, is that my desire was driven more on the traditional school day and grade model, but that was what I was rejecting in teaching the kids at home!
For example, both of our girls were slow readers. Had they been in traditional school, it is very likely they would have had problems keeping up and it would have been a struggle to keep up with the rest of the class (of course had our boys been slow readers, they likely would have checked out mentally and been labeled “bad” or with A.D.D.). Now, Lexi reads very well and loves books while Boney continues to improve. But I confess, especially with Lexi, I was getting scared for a while! So just remember that you create and control your destiny, not the school.
Rule #2 – You do not always need to test, but make sure they are learning the material
My kids probably hate this saying. I always remind them that, “I do not have to test you, to see if you are learning what I gave you”. In other words, it’s not about you just being able to memorize some questions at the end of the chapter. It is about you being able to create mental connections with your subjects and with those connections, analyze, criticize and magnetize.
Analyze – Examine the information and extract the real meaning
Criticize – Be brave enough to express possible faults and logically debate possible faults
Magnetize – Be able to take your analysis and criticism, and be able to express your findings, story or art to others to benefit your community.
So taking a test every week or month and stressing that it is not graded as you also work your 9-to-5 or with other children is not necessary. After all, my son is noticing in college that his professors take longer to grade papers and exams than I did all those years! [this seemed like a run on sentence, it was a little hard to follow]
Rule #3 – Always Be Teaching
You know what? My son’s professor may be doing exactly what I’ve been doing. Perhaps she felt that the best way to learn the material was through group interaction and classroom discussions. That’s exactly how it is in our home. There is always learning going on and no set grade where they begin learning about history, sociology, health, biology and so on. It is always about evaluating what is age appropriate and moving them on when they are ready to take on tougher topics. But our dining room table, living room and car trips (look, I need something to take my mind off of being in the minivan okay) reinforces everything they have been studying (see Rule #2). So topics get hammered over and over again, and that brain is not allowed to completely shut off when the last bell rings or it is the final day of school in a given year.
So you know, that professor may have been on the right track, lazy or cutting edge. But you know what, they have flexibility! They use their flexibility and we can use ours as well. You would not be teaching your children at home if you didn’t care about them and their learning, so use that liberty. Do your thing. Be you…
Now, if this trend continues in traditional school, I’m going to be mad because I could have chilled a whole lot more and just worked in groups and followed whatever the “smart kid” said to answer on the tests.
Ah yes, either the workplace is about to change or so many students are in for a rude awakening. But we’ll talk about that in future posts.