Sunday, August 05, 2007

Education Gaps and More

I thought I'd point out two good posts to read over at Doc's Sunrise Rants. The first one addresses Education Gaps. From her post:

Lots of discussion going on among blogroll about science education, educational gaps, and home education in general.

I am not going to comment on each individual blog. I'm going to comment here, and my educated opinion stems from my experience as a home educator for 2 decades AND my long tenure as a university science professor.

I've known lots and lots of home educated kids. A vast majority of them are quite intelligent and well educated REGARDLESS of the educational background of their parents. The defining factor in receiving a good education is NOT in the quantity of information that's been forced into them (the public school model), but in their ability to access information and critically analyze that material.

The process of critical analysis works for any subject. It creates an outline by which the learner can make decisions forming an opinion, or belief, in the material presented. It does nothing to give the learner faith that the material is fact.

[ . . .]

Home educators don't need to teach every fact about every subject. If they are able to impart the ability to critically analyze material, give their student the skill set to find information, and a good solid background in the basics of education (readin', writin' and 'rithmatic), the student can go on to fill their own gaps, form opinions based on knowledge instead of emotion, and be successful in post elementary education.

There's more to read, of course!

And her second post is titled What I learned from unschooling. Doc talks a bit about what school doesn't teach, and then sums up her post with this:

School is about conformity. There's no process by which individuals learn what makes them unique. Interests are directed by peers and forced social activities, a limited number of each. A child learns to conform or is subjected to torment for being different.

That's what schools don't teach. That's what socialization is. It's not teaching, and it's not learning. It's control. It's absorbing the opinions of others and calling them your own. Without thought. [bold is my addition]

Embrace difference. Know that learning is happening, because the process of learning is subtle. It doesn't happen when you expect, it happens in the moments in between. And sometimes it hurts.

I'll take my unsocialized unschoolers any day. I don't always agree with them, sometimes they're PITA's, but dang, at least they're original.

The comments are always worth a read as well. One of them for this particular post points us to Daryl's Idiotic Quote of the Decade post and it's comments. They, too, are worth reading.

And I just read this quote over at Why Homeschool and thought it went well with the overall theme:
"Accusing a homeschool kid of missing out on socialization is like accusing a work-at-home entrepreneur of missing out on corporate politics." --Perry Marshall

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lynnak said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Doc's comments regarding critical thinking and accessing information. However, I think it applies differently to different ages. There are valid concerns about learning gaps in the younger ages.

For example, if a 6th grader has a gap in doing long division with 4 digit numbers or with decimals critical thinking and being able to look it up won't help. I submit there are essential life skills that need to be taught. The remaining ever-expanding body of knowledge becomes part of a lifelong learning experience.

I think this is a key area where public schools fail. They improperly discern what's essential for a child to learn. Thus, we now have No Child Left Behind to steer schools away from fads that fail and keep them focused on what's important.

Love the quote on socialization. I'll probably use that.

Silvia said...

I would agree with you, with the added comment that if a 6th grader needed long division and didn't know it yet, they could ask an adult, vs looking it up. Or if they like textbooks, could work it out that way. So there is a difference, but in the end, I believe that it gets worked out.