A bit controversial...or common sense?

(9 Posts)
ohtobeanonymous Wed 20-Aug-14 10:15:14


Sent to me by a friend who homeschooled her 4 children but let one go to school in Year 7.

I tend to agree with much of the content. What do you think?

MumTryingHerBest Wed 20-Aug-14 10:53:09

ohtobeanonymous I tend to agree with much of the content. What do you think? Given that I didn't read anything original in the article, I would say the vast majority of it was simple common sense. Given that people are unique individuals a one size fits all approach to education will inevitably have flaws.

a friend who homeschooled her 4 children but let one go to school in Year 7. And their observations from this were?

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Aug-14 10:58:51

On the other hand, virtually all white American settlers in the northeastern colonies at the time of the American Revolution could read

I call bullshit on this for a start.

While it's all very nice with its Inuit parents know this and Cree parents know that, the Inuits and Crees haven't landed on the moon or eradicated smallpox have they? Folksy homegrown wisdom only takes you so far.

While I agree that there are serious issues with a classroom-based and exam-focused education system, there are also issues with leaving your kids to it in the hope that they'll at some point get interested enough in something to give it a go.

The author of the article clearly has an issue with the teaching of reading through phonics (despite its evidence base) and has, with a bit of hand waving, extrapolated this to every area of modern education, dismissing learning disabilities along the way. Perhaps an appreciation of science would have taught them to evidence their arguments in a more compelling way than through anecdote and suggestion.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 20-Aug-14 11:41:39

I'm afraid I couldn't finish reading the article. I think it's fairly offensive to make vast generalisations about marginalized groups of people such as people with learning disabilities or those from minority ethnic groups. I'm pretty sure there is no cultural group/society where everyone agrees on the best way to raise/teach a child. I also think it's particularly offensive given that most of these groups have real social problems caused by lack of access to good schools and lack of educational attainment.

Also, a lot of her statements about "mammals" amount to pseudo-biological bollocks. I know this isn't the main thrust of the article but it really annoyed me.

She might have a good point hidden under all of this, but I'm afraid I couldn't read the article for long enough to see it.

Yes, it is possible for children to teach themselves to read at an early age. I did it with very little parental pushing and was reading fluently by the time I went to school. However, because I have an interest in science, I know there are peer reviewed studies that show that it isn't like this for every child, and some have serious problems which cause major difficulties in learning to read- e.g. dyslexia.

Also, it seems like she had a large amount of time to invest in teaching her children. Not everyone has this, or the money to facilitate their learning in other ways. Not every child has easy access to books at home. Also, I don't believe every child will spontaneously learn to read. The thing about society before the introduction of schooling for everyone, was that people were used to the functionally illiterate being part of society, and made allowances for that. Society was set up in such a way that people who couldn't read could usually cope. That's totally different to today, where a high level of literacy is assumed for all adults.

I worry about anyone who always refers to important things like "data" and "research" and "experts" in quotation marks. A few homely anecdotes about how pre-industrial sociaetites raise their children doesn't actually replace genuine research into learning patterns.

And, lets be honest, most parents are not going to take their children out of school and let them learn completely autonomously, for a wide variety of perfectly-sensible reasons. Therefore, research into improving how things are done in schools is not a watse of effort as she seems to be implying.

If she's right that children in US schools are expected to be reading by 4 and diagnosed with learning difficulties if they don't 'fit in' with expectations, then she's right that there is a problem.

But the solution isn't to throw the whole idea of school out of the window. It is to pull back a little from the extreme position that they seem to be in. (I have zero personal experience of the US school system, so don't know if she is being fair to them or not)

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Wed 20-Aug-14 12:27:19

But children in the US schools are NOT expected to be reading by 4. They don't even start school until generally age 5, in kindergarten. And they're not expected to be able to read at that point. If they can, hoorah. But not expected to know. And the schools in the US are not IME any better at spotting learning difficulties than the schools here in the UK - if anything, they're most likely spotted earlier in the UK as the children start actual school (reception) at age 4 instead of age 5.

AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore Wed 20-Aug-14 12:34:40

Meh. After reading the article, she obviously has a bone to pick with school systems and got her back up over the "tone" of someone's post somewhere. I can't say I'm horribly impressed with her "tone" either. hmm

noblegiraffe Wed 20-Aug-14 13:38:51

That stupid computer example annoyed me. Ooh didn't you learn how to use a computer not because you'd been taught at school but because you needed to? Ok. But most people are shit at using computers. Witness someone typing a URL into a google search box, or painfully going through menus when a keyboard shortcut is available or picking out individual letters with their index finger and then tell me that learning through need rather than structured instruction is a better path to mastery.

And the bollocks about bedtime stories. Gosh, the Inuit tell bedtime stories because they know that sleep takes the words to your soul. As if the western world didn't have its own well-established tradition of bedtime stories and as if bedtime stories aren't a nice way to wind down before sleep.

But every Inuit parent knows you tell stories in the evening, when the child’s mind is relaxed and expansive, and before sleep which carries words and images deep into the soul. Science is rediscovering that memories are consolidated at night, despite the previous generation’s “data” which “proved” that children learn best in the morning

Nothing about that paragraph suggests that memories being consolidated at night (rediscovered? Eh?) invalidates data about children learning best in the morning. Nothing. It's just putting two unconnected things together and expecting you to go 'gosh, how profound'. And despite what the Inuits do, I would still much prefer to teach a class maths before lunch than after it, or when they are in their jammies and half asleep.

Ericaequites Wed 20-Aug-14 14:45:37

The vast majority of children and parents are not suited to unschooling. It requires clever parents who don't have to work, highly motivated children, and lots of individual resources. We need to provide more unstructured time outdoors for children, and make sure everyone learns to read. This might involved tracked primary classes so faster learners and more clever children aren't held back. Fifty years ago, leaving school at fifteen with no qualifications still meant one could earn a living. Life without qualifications is much harder now.

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