Dec 1, 2006

Neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow...

The first "real" winter weather of the year came blasting through last night. High winds, lots of rain, sleet, and yes, even some snow flurries! Tyler was excited, sure that there would be no school and that he would get to play in the snow all day today... Well, much to his dismay, everything pretty much got a very thin layer of ice only... By "thin layer," I mean just enough to seal the doors on the vehicles shut and make one horse I know very, very ornery at this morning's feeding... :-)

So, I've been playing LUNCHFIGHT online off and on for a while now... I try to play at lunch every day or after I get to the house, but some days I don't get on there at all for whatever different reasons.. Well, as of Friday morning, I hit 5th place on the scoreboard rankings! Very cool.. :-) Check it out! (Though by the time you read this, I may been knocked down from my post....)

Oh, if you're interested, the quote used for the title of this post comes from the Postal Service motto, but did you know the origins of that quote? Well, I didn't, so I checked it out, and you can read about it, but you'll have to scroll down to the section that starts, "TTT: That Post Office Motto."

Have you heard of "UNSchooling?" This is some ploy by certain people who claim to be "homeschooling" their children but in reality, they are not schooling them at all... The children learn what they want when they want, eat what they want when they want, get up and go to bed when they want... What part of REAL LIFE will these children grow up to fit in?? How many businesses do you know that let their employees come and go as they choose, select (or not) the projects/assignments they 'feel' like doing? What are these kids going to do when they get to college age and decide they want to go to college? Okay, let's say they don't bother with college... What employer is going to hire some undisciplined slacker? According to, this is a student-led learning situation... "If they have an interest in hockey- you read about hockey- make a hockey stick, figure out how a Zamboni works, etc. Job as “teacher” is more to facilitate learning (read: chauffeur). To suggest and expose and then run with something if they are eager to pursue or learn more."

While I agree with the premise of having student-led education at certain ages/grade levels/etc, this 'unschooling' idea is totally ridiculous... I can't wait to see parents teaching their children algebra, foreign language, etc to these 'students.' In a classroom environment, maybe... At home where they can simply say, "I don’t want to do that!" I hope someone is watching these kids and will do a study of them in about 5 years, 10 years, 15 years....

And, I guess while I'm on the education kick, I might as well throw all my ducks in the air and wait for the shotgun blasts here.... I think we are way over-testing kids... I don't mean subject-specific testing.. I mean "benchmark" testing... You know, I would go insane if I was given a test every 4 weeks or so on my job... Of course, part of the problem is testing Special Ed kids, too... Shan had a great example... I can't remember it specifically, but it would be like giving me a test on the internal workings of a combustion engine, simply because of my age or my 'grade level.' That is, "You have a Master's Degree, so you will take this test on Complex Eigenvalues/Eigenvectors of real and complex matricies." (Okay, for the record, I don't even know what that means - I 'borrowed' it from a web site....)

Of course, for me, the real issue is the fact we are testing these students TO DEATH! No wonder the stress level of students, even in elementary school, is through the roof! I'd be walking on eggshells, pins and needles if every time I turned around, there was another test being thrown in my face!

Next on the chopping block, I'll throw out the fact that when I was in Kindergarten, my biggest accomplishment that I recall was learning how to tie my shoes and recite my ABC's... Now, kids have to know all of that and much more before they even get INTO Kindergarten... My argument is this: I turned out just fine... I went to college, got married, work in a technology-related field, had kids, got my Master's, changed jobs a couple times, etc... So what? Other people I know graduated High School, went to work, had kids, etc... What exactly are our children gaining by having to know much more at earlier stages? And some things are only making education more stressful... Some kids are just not ready for certain skills... Would you give the keys to the car to a 6 year-old? No. Why not? They are not developmentally ready - not just physically, but mentally as well... Same is true for some of the things we are trying to cram into our children's heads.... We spend more time trying to 'catch up' the ones 'behind' than if they just would have waited or if they weren't pushed into things they are not ready for.. Am I saying to coddle them? No... Of course, this brings up another thought... What if we could get rid of the whole "You must graduate in xx years!"

I had this discussion the other day... School could be/should be just like college... You take courses and you earn hours. As you earn hours, you are moved into more and more challenging courses, but nothing that is beyond your capabilities at that time... Instead of "4th grade, 5th grade, etc" based on age or whatever the heck its based on, children progress by PASSING the courses and earning hours.. After XX hours, you move to the next level (even if we continue to call them grades), but it is NOT based primarily on the students' ages... If a student takes two years to move from 4th to 5th because he/she needed more hours or had to repeat a course or courses to get those hours, then that's fine.

It didn't matter how "old" I was when I earned my Bachelor's degree, or my Master's for that matter... I earned HOURS, CREDITS... In some cases, I had to repeat courses... No one cared how old I was and that I was taking "Intro to Programming." Same should be true for school-aged children... In my opinion, we would have some children progressing easily through some 'levels' and maybe getting a little bogged down in others... Then again, you would also have students who excelled through all the levels and who walked away with a diploma at 14 or 15... What is wrong with that? Others would work until they got it, and they would graduate with a diploma at 20 or 21, but you know what? They FINISHED.......

I'm done for now... I'll let you chew on that, and feel free to rip me a new one - after all, this *IS* America... :-)

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