Monday, January 7, 2013

Great Link: Lost In Public School

Read above link.

I, too, was lost in the public school system. As much as I excelled in elementary and most of high school, I never was once challenged. There were no AP classes. There were no individualized learning plans. Turns out I was about 10 years too early for those things in my school. So, I had to suffer because my school and district couldn't find ways to adjust and individualize my education? I was bored, and I was already asking for more work most of elementary. 

I spent hours doing multiplication tables, working up to trying to beat the time that the 6th grade math teacher could do them. 100 multiplication problems from 0-12 in under 2 minutes and 16 seconds if I remember right. In the 9th grade, I did it, by 2 full seconds, winning myself a restaurant meal for me and a friend, paid for by said teacher. I honestly think he thought no one would ever do it. But I did. 

I always asked for the workbook at the end of the year and took it home and finished it. That's right, we never finished an entire workbook or finished reading an entire textbook in any grade in the entire 12 years. Turns out it wasn't even possible to teach all the material to the middle level when you have to put in required projects and testing that sometimes had nothing to do with the classes in which we did them. I never learned about Ronald Reagan, we never made it that far. History was always distant subjects for the most part. And I would have read them if I had been able to take the textbooks home all summer. 

Public school systems are not made for special students. No matter how many special education teachers they are required to supply, those don't help kids who are advanced, or who need more challenge. Individualized learning plans might be on the right track, but I have of course never experienced them, so I wouldn't be able to say they help. You can't offer AP classes to one student, can you? Most schools won't do it because they have to have a certain number in order to run the class. Then you spend hours sitting in the seats. Hours that are spent waiting for everyone else to work could have been spent in an AP class lesson or something. I usually retreated to the band room, as a band geek I could listen to my own music, play with a music program, goof off on the piano, organize the music teacher's office (he's a true artist, people), read, or whatever. Peace and quiet. 

I am a bit disenchanted by my experience. I don't know if I could ever be convinced that public school would do the best for my children. Homeschooling will work because I can teach them based on their individuality, what they are interested in, what their level is, what their strengths are, work on their weaknesses specifically, going faster or slower based on their motivation or skills. With public school, its all middle. You can't move too fast to keep up with advanced kids because that leaves behind the strugglers, and you can't move so slowly that the strugglers can keep up because then you aren't even covering what's required. It is all middle, even if its individualized somehow. 

Anyway, I like that homeschooling brought the perfect solution for the problems in the article. I like that instead of being overwhelmed daily, the kid is now able to do his work and be social in set times and amounts that are comfortable for him. Not only that, but in groups that are closely guided and structured by adults who have a common goal. As much as people say that smaller sizes are better, somehow a size of 2 in a family home isn't good? Even in the "small class sizes" of 20-30, as hard as the best teacher will try, they won't ever be able to know, understand and be individualizing to every student they have. Not to mention that some teachers and kids just do not get along, which no matter what means that it's going to be hard to teach to them at all, forget trying to personalize it.

Anyway, that's my blab of the day.

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