Ask The Principal

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How to make public school look like home?

This summer throughout the country, from Maui to Colorado to Florida, tens of thousands of teachers and administrators in the public education arena are going to attend conferences to learn the latest research and hear motivational speakers that will bring tears to their eyes, and then go back to schools changed, charged, and ready to go. It's almost like going to church camp. You hear a message that is life changing, you repent of your old teaching methods, and you go back on that high that lasts until about parent conference time.

Interestingly what teachers and administrators are being taught more and more is to make the classroom setting more like a healthy home setting.

From the ASCD blog (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) we see the following observation made by experts to help combat the 8th and 9th grade student that is at risk for not graduating:

Solutions mentioned included having small groups of students monitored and encouraged throughout high school by one adult; using data of all types to inform instruction; providing computers and instruction for both students and teachers; and greatly decreasing labeling and tracking of students, including labeling of student groups as "minorities."

So let's see here. We can take the above advice to work with the at-risk student in a modernistic public school setting in loco parenti (in place of the parent), or....we can take out the words "adult" and "students" and replace them with "father" and "brothers" (or "mother" and "sisters"). The mention of the computer is just a PC thing. One simply cannot have a classroom without a computer mind you. Shelves and shelves of great books is wonderful, but the computer.....well, we just won't let our minds go's just too painful. What incentives will we give the good kids if we can't let them play games and blog on "myspace"?

Sorry for the momentary digression into a pet peeve of mine.

Don't tell me that the homeschool parent doesn't know their child inside and out...there is your data, not a nationally norm-referenced test to compare your son/daughter with the rest of the nation. (Oh look! Johnny is smarter than 51.23 percent of the nation in mathematics and 48.32 percent of the nation in language arts!)

As far as labeling and tracking...well those sorts of things came out of a necessity to allow an industrialized production method to educate those that didn't fit in the norm-referenced tests given...more specifically, to create production methods that would allow these anomalies to do better on the tests, thereby validating the worth of the child (in the eyes of the system and society) and of the system itself.

Labeling occurs in the homeschool environment though. The labels are the first or endearing nick- names of the children. As far as minorities are concerned, well there generally has not been a documented case of race segregation in the homeschool system that I know of...certainly not one that required a supreme court ruling in 1954 (Brown) These "labels" are spoken in nurture and in admonishment, but always with the unequaled love and concern of a father and/or mother.

So folks, there you have it! Make the public education system look like the successful homeschool and you will have reform like no other, save of course, real homeschooling.


  • Thanks for the link to that article. I went to public school and learned to hate textbooks and didn't do much outside reading. I have received a grand, adventurous education since homeschooling my own children. I am thrilled to be able to teach my children history, for example, through rich, in-depth books on any given subject. There are so many wonderful books and resources available that my heart breaks to think of children that are not exposed to these treasures.
    I am enjoying your blog tremendously. Keep up the good work!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, May 25, 2006 11:36:00 AM  

  • So what you're saying, Bill, is that we have "one up" on the schools? *GASP*! What's ironic is that the schools are spending all this time and money only to find that "our" way produces better results. Go figure :o/

    As far as computers and books - I think there can be a happy medium. We have computers in our home but we also have shelf after shelf filled with wonderful books for our dc to read. Computers are great, but I don't believe they should replace books.

    By Blogger hs'ing mom of two, at Saturday, May 27, 2006 9:00:00 AM  

  • Yes, there is a happy medium w/books and computers. In public schools there has been and continues to be a movement to spend thousands on technology, but what ends up happening is the3-5 computers in the classroom of 30 sit on a table most of the day...usually because the teacher doesn't know how to incorporate them into the classroom. Kids know how to use them, work around the firewalls. Even the techno-savvy teachers can't monitor everything. We have to implement firewalls that monitor the google image searches and block those as well. Even with the best firewalls kids are viewing things they shouldn't. When Berg had his head cut off and it was all over the internet one of the best teachers turned her back for a moment and the next thing you know we have a serios incident of kids viewing death up close and personal. Not good. I spoke to parents that were irate (and rightly so) and was in a place where I obviosly couldn't turn back the clock. It was awkward and emotional. And I'm at a "good" school.

    By Blogger The Principal, at Saturday, May 27, 2006 10:58:00 AM  

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