Friday, August 29, 2014

A Report on School

The twins have completed one full week of public education. So far, it has lived up to my expectations of being a major disappointment.

The school spent six entire days reviewing rules, policies, procedures, rules, and more rules. In terms of a percentage, I would gather to say this ate up more than 80% of the time for those six days. I actually talked to the principal about it. No, I am not, at all. I asked him why and he told me that it is a really large school (1500 students) and the rules take time to teach and implement. I am just going to let this fact speak for itself, but it would be an understatement to say that I am more than a little bit ticked off.

And it did not take a week for Zach to get called a name by a punk in one of his classes. Let's just say, he came home this week and asked me what the word F-A-G meant. That's right. This is the wonderful socialization my kids have missed out on for the first seven years of their schooling lives.

Last week the Deseret News had a front page story titled "Back to (Home) School". I eagerly read it and then rolled my eyes a lot. First of all, it is the same tired story the media runs repeatedly. Same facts, same format, just insert a new family into the mix. It is another example of the drive-by media at its best. They have a formula they have already created in their socially-constructed newsroom and then they just fill in the blanks, kind of like Mad-Libs, but dumber and not as funny.

And of course to be a well-balanced, impartial story they include the nay-sayers. This time it was the president of the Utah teacher's union.

Professional educators counter that truly effective teaching is difficult. Utah Education Association President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh even described the profession as being "rocket science."
"Those who feel that they are able to do this job without any training, I think don’t have a big picture or a complete understanding of the complexity of teaching," she said. "There is definitely a science to teaching and there is an art to teaching, and you really can’t have one without the other and be a good teacher."
She said the role of parents, in any form of education, cannot be understated and that any good teacher recognizes that parents know their child's needs better than anyone.
But she added that teachers are trained to look at student learning from pedagogical and developmental viewpoints, which goes beyond simply presenting children with information about a subject.
There is also a benefit to having an objective teacher involved in the education of a child, Gallagher-Fishbaugh said. In her own experience, she believed her children "walked on water" but was often surprised by the insight she gained from parent teacher conferences.
"It was something that I, as a parent, couldn’t see through the fog of my love and my adoration for my angelic child," she said.
This statement is insulting on so many levels.

First of all, teaching is like rocket science?!? Really? She's joking, right? Do you remember all of those "rocket scientist" teachers that taught you when you were in school?  I can't seem to recall any.  I can list a ton of my teachers who were barely average at best. There were a few absolute gems, of course. But to equate teaching to this level of sophistication is beyond hubris, it is down right silly. Yes, she recognizes that parental input is important but then in almost the same breath completely disregards it.

Truly effective teaching is NOT difficult. Ridiculous! Absurd!! When I take the time, sit down with my child in a learning environment, crack open a book, read it, discuss it, research more, do a project, etc, etc, learning prospers and it is amazing. And I have the benefit of doing it one-on-one. I don't have to manage 35 children. And the resources are googol on Google. There is no ending to where we can go with it.

And yes, I think I have a perfect grasp of the big picture. And I have the luxury of not wasting six, count it...1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 entire days going over rules. Wouldn't you say that is really missing the BIG picture?

I also understand the complexity of it, as I understand that teaching the facts, presenting accurate information and making sure it is mastered is grasping the 'complexity' of what education is all about. I remember taking an education class in college and being absolutely appalled at the expert 'training' future teachers were receiving. The most absurd moment came when the professor asked what was more important to teach, facts or self-esteem. The most disturbing part was that a lot of these future teachers said self-esteem. How do you teach that, exactly? It seems to me in my untrained, non-rocket scientist mind that self-esteem is a product of hard work, accomplishment, knowledge, and actions. It is not something you attain in and of itself. Kids know when they are not fabulous and know when you are lying to them. Just like you can't feel love for someone just by existing. Love takes work and is a consequence of that work.

Hence, in my simple, backwoods, ignorant way I actually open up books and delve into subjects with my kids and engage their minds in new, unexplored areas.  In the end, I know that the big picture is to teach my kids HOW to think and not what to think. I believe it is exactly the opposite in the public schools.

And news flash, lady. I have met a whole lot of homeschool moms, and I can bet my exposure to different homeschoolers outweighs hers by about a killion. I have never, not once, thought my kids walked on water and I can certainly attest to the fact the majority, minus a few, were the same. We would sit for hours talking about what to do with this problem or that, trying to think of a new way to reach out and engage our children in dynamic learning. This is truth!  This is Realville. Because, and only because, we are on the front-lines of education day after day after day, we know intimately what is going on and where are kids are at physically, mentally, and emotionally. We don't come from a place where we send our kids off 35 hours a week and never see them and have not a clue what is going on. I think that is where a parent can get delusional about how fabulous their kid is. I know my kids are fabulous, absolutely, but they are very flawed, just like every other human being that walks the earth.

And this gets me to my next point that really annoys me. Why is that homeschoolers are held to this ridiculous standard when it comes to socialization?  Why do we even talk about this, like, ever?  Why don't we just turn the finger around and point it at the public schools for a minute? It is as if for some reason society has held this public institution up as the gold standard for a place of perfect socialization training. Seriously? You mean to tell me you never met any weird, awkward, strange, outcast type person who came out of high school? I seem to remember at my high school there being tables and tables of them in the lunchroom. In addition, there were tables and tables of mean, clickish, snobby kids as well. And tables and tables of drug-addicts and bimbos. You were not liked unless you wore the right shoes, had the right haircut, and stylish, over-priced clothes, or owned the latest electronic gadget. You were made fun of if you enjoyed answering the teachers questions in class, ala Hermoine Granger, or did extra to excel and reach your fullest potential or had a desire to actually learn 'information' at school. Has it really changed since I was there? Or maybe, has gotten even worse?

The successfully socialized student ends up like everyone else. Sounds pretty boring to me!

On the flip side, when my kids went to the playground with a horribly matched outfit they put together themselves, dirty face, and ratty, bed head hair, there was a smiling, genuine face there to greet them. There was no name-calling, and if it did happen rarely, punishment was swift and severe. My kids were able to see other kids for the glorious, wonderful, unique individuals that they were. My kids are comfortable speaking to adults and younger kids alike. Are there awkward homeschoolers who live up to the stereotype? Of course, but compared to what comes out of public schools...are you kidding me?

With all of this said, here I am with my twins in public school. Like I mentioned before, I am only human and putting them is school is for me and not them. I need a break to regroup and get my little kids on the homeschooling path.

Eli is now reading on a second-grade level, his math skills are stupendous, his comprehension is top-notch. However, handwriting is more difficult for him and he is going to have to work on improving it. Harry is doing well also, but he does have a hard time pronouncing his R's, L's, and C's clearly. I have thought about speech therapy but I don't want to be hasty. Julia is great with handwriting and drawing but math is going to be a struggle for her. I will just have to take it slowly to make sure she masters each step before she moves on.

See, they are all fabulous, but they certainly do not walk on water.

1 comment:

NormaKimokeo said...

I think you should print this blog and send a hard copy to the principle/administration and the author of that ridiculous article.

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