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Nan in Mass

Just curious - Are homeschool curriculums dumbing down like ps ones?...

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an't)EAch year, I see more fluff, but also more rigor.

 

Laura

:iagree:

 

This thread has is interesting and has helped me sort out what I think.

 

And I wonder about the definition in the op - is homeschool curriculum getting dumbed down (no, not generally in my opinion but with the caveat that there is a lot of band wagon fluff) or is homeschooling being dumbed down? Maybe... (don't hurt me :leaving: )

 

I think if we confine the definition of homeschool to parent taught, first person knowledge then the definition is in need of a rewrite. The times they are a changing...

 

Personally we prefer, and have always used, the first person method. I buy information and we discuss. Most of the books on my overflowing shelves are directed toward me or are informational or literature. But I am fine with that not being everyone's cup of tea. Whatever gets the job done well for your family.

 

And I think what turns us (me, my family) off about public school is the filling your head with information and factoids and never really, in a rigorous way, advancing to the how and why and output stage of learning and it seems like some (SOME!) of what is going on with homeschool curriculum is falling back to that public school paradigm.

 

Just my rambling 2 cents.

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I do see your point, and I think this is some of what Liping Ma's beef is. Not only do elem math teachers not understand calculus, they don't really deeply understand elem math. I know I had a whole new insight into the number system in one of the last math classes I ever took.

 

Which explains a lot of the problems plaguing upper level math instruction in schools, for instance. Unless you understand calculus, there is no way you can TEACH it. Unless you can speak French, you can not teach it. Impossible.

Yes, I know in this country there are language teachers who are not fluent in the language - they can not TEACH the language.

 

Would you believe somebody can teach your child to play the violin, if that person can not play the violin himself?

 

Maybe we are having a semantics disagreement. Teaching requires the ability to answer in depth questions, to explain reasons behind the material - I can not fathom teaching without knowing more than the student. Anything else is co-learning, facilitating - whatever you want to call it. But not teaching in my book.

 

I think you are right about the semantics. I have subjects that I colearn with my boys and subjects that I teach. As they have gotten older, colearning has become more difficult if not impossible.

-Nan

 

I co-learn a LOT with my kids. Which is something I love about homeschooling - all the things *I* get to learn, too!

We co-learn history (thanks, Dr. Vandiver and Teaching Company!), we co-learn biology (thanks, Campbell and Reece). We co-learn French.

I assign work, I help structure, I find resources to clarify complicated points, I help motivate... I just don't teach.

 

:iagree: Yep, all of this.

 

And, hey, I finally figured out the multi-quote button. Learn something new every day :lol: hopefully...

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What I'm trying to express, I guess, is that a person can acquire an expertise in an area, and can facilitate learning to a large extent, even if they weren't previously an expert. Does that mean that I could become expert "enough" to teach different languages to different children if I weren't fluent? No, because there isn't enough time. But might I be able to facilitate that learning to a certain extent, or even become bilingual in order to teach a language? Yes.

Partially, I agree with you: one can always learn and, consequently, one can always be comfortable with teaching more areas or same areas to greater extent.

 

The part where I am not sure I agree with you is what I perceive as the assumption (and please correct me if I am wrong) that you only have to know that which you intend to teach to be able to teach it. More often than not, it is not so: in order to teach a BASIC level in something, you yourself need to be ADVANCED, or else you can be so "off" without realizing how "off" you are. Languages, in fact, are a perfect example for that - I could tell you stories upon stories where I had to "fix" an entire system, rather than several odd mistakes, with learners who were taught by inadequate teachers from the beginning and got "used" to (really, like a habit) to incorrect forms and sloppery of a kind which then got cemented in their brains and many times I found it necessary to go back to the basics even if I had a supposedly intermediate or advanced student in front of me - they were just never taught some important tricks or things to avoid or corrected some of their basic mistakes. For anyone who wishes to attain a true proficiency and literacy in a foreign language, this is extremely important.

 

In other fields it might be less drastic, but still, I find that my children learn the most from people in the field, people who have a net of intra- and interdisciplinary connections needed to understand the whole of a field, not only a specific subset taught to the students. And this, in my view, is where homeschooling fails when compared to those outstanding public and private schools where professor expertise is valued: you just cannot be an expert for all areas, even if you can usually handle pretty well a few areas that are tangential to the field you come from.

 

In my view, it is not even teaching that is problematic, but grading. Even if I can fathom teaching what I am not so comfortable with - say, history - by using a lot of additional materials and support, as well as working on my own knowledge, I cannot fathom grading it, for official purposes. How am I supposed to grade, how can I even allow myself the freedom of evaluating somebody else in an area I do not know? Sure, if we do premade bubble tests or nonsense of the kind, it might be possible, but I do not wish to do that; yet, how on Earth am I supposed to grade a history essay if I myself have not read the bibliography, if I have no professional tools to even assess whether the bibliography is a good choice for that particular topic or too biased or whatever, or give constructive criticism? I find myself that the older my daughters get, the more I rely on outside expertise - the gap between my and their knowledge is lessening dramatically in all but my professional fields. Maybe I just have an atypical situation with rather advanced kids, but it still bugs me a little.

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Hmmmmm....well, I am probably too jaded to be of any real assistance. Dh and are of the neo-classical approach to education. So, we want our children to have that WTM style learning but in our high school, the math and science are probably more rigorous than what is described in WTM.

 

My perception, that is the only way that I am willing to state it, is that there is a tremendous amount of good, high quality, rigorous curriculum in arithmetic, history, and english for the homeschool market along with a lot of fluff and stuff for grammar stage learning. My perception is that this begins to wane a little for the logic stage and that the scales tip in favor of easier and not as in-depth, for high school; ie. the pickings get a bit slimmer even though there is a lot to pick from! But, that is my perception. We are the same people that use college math books, college lit, a college chem book, college history texts (occasionally), college music theory text, etc. for high school because we feel the quality of writing and the depth is better. We are also availing ourselves of M.I.T.'s opencourseware for many electives. My perception may be wonky.

 

I cannot teach that which I do not know. I can facilitate learning, provide materials, guidance, etc. but at the jumping off point for what is truly rhetoric stage learning, again I cannot directly teach what I do not know. However, that does not mean my child cannot learn it or needs a CO-OP class (which in my limited experiences have been COMPLETELY dumbed down to the point of having no educative value whatsoever - babysitting high schoolers class...that's what I've been asked to teach) or community college (though that would be a viable option if we lived anywhere near a good one) in order to do so. But, it does mean that I've got to be the parent and pull together the materials and find the expertise for that child and this might include tutors if necessary.

 

I will say that dh and I are very blessed. We have been a good team for homeschooling because I have in addition to my triple major in piano performance/instrumental education/philosophy and stout background in English and virtually unnatural love of history, a decent back ground in natural science, biology, and some physics. Dh triple majored in math, computer science, and business and filled his electives with chemistry and physics including senior level classes JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT! (He cracked me up when I first met him. He took a grad school level number theory class just for entertainment - Geek extraordinaire!) So I readily admit that it is harder for me to "see" the viewpoint of those with a less rigorous perspective towards high school academics.

 

The major problem I am encountering is ds's need for art history, a subject I know little about and as I study it am not the least bit inspired and find bits of my brain flaking off into the twilight zone. I do have a sister-in-law that majored in art and her knowledge is extensive. But, she has some personal issues one of which is she admittedly does not like boys. Period. Doesn't want to teach males. So, that's not an option. All of the local public and private school art teachers have been fired due to budget cuts and so finding a tutor is NOT happening and we are an hour drive from the local university...the one I don't think is all that great anyway. So, driving ds three times a week with six hours of commute time...nope! It will be one of the first times I've had to quake in my boots and pull together a course for him that he will be learning without my direct parent teaching. I am ever so thankful it is an elective and not a core subject so I am not as worried about evaluating/grading the work - though still just a little flipped out.

 

I have other quaking moments on my horizon and though I will need to farm out for some necessary resources/help, I will still see us as homeschoolers because we will still be making the educational choices, we will still be in charge of what gets credit, what doesn't, we will still be facilitating the education. Dh and I will not be putting someone else in the driver's seat even if we are hiring them for tutoring services. We will still have our expectations and ultimately it will be up to us to decide if our student has covered enough material, spent enough time, demonstrated mastery, etc. to constitute high school credit.

 

Okay, now I think I've gotten off topic. So, back to the original. I think that for those who strive for the upper end of the standards, the choices dwindle in the rhetoric stage (especially given how poorly many of the newer public school texts are written) and there is possibly more being published in the "not so comprehensive, not as many assignments, not very challenging assignments, easy to implement" department (all of which has a place, seasons of life and such) than in the "study the topic in depth, think and write on a rhetorical level, read the book all the way through, read several books for that matter, apply this knowledge" curriculum. But, I don't think we necessarily need to sweat that there aren't as many of the second type curriculums marketed for homeschoolers because the sheer wealth of college texts that are well-written and can be implemented by taking a year instead of one semester to cover plus the opencourseware options of M.I.T., Yale, etc. gives us much from which to choose.

 

I do have a personal problem with the few no-standards homeschoolers I've met. I am not certain how this best benefits their children when our culture absolutely insists on measurable results to some extent in most arenas.

 

As for AP's...well, they are a means to a specific end though, like any bubble test, still do not accurately measure mastery of material and comfort with the skill. Increasingly, more colleges are not allowing students to AP or CLEP out of classes so given their costs, it's possible they will fall out of favor for kids not attempting entrance to the Ivies and their cousin institutions. DD took the AP chemistry and produced a great score but she did that only to show a couple of colleges what they wanted. The reality is that med students don't AP anything....still took college chem as a freshman because, well, would you want a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist that bubble tested only on vital knowledge? No. you. would. not. You want your medical professional to have been taught by an expert and evaluated by an expert, not by a multiple choice exam in high school.

 

That's my perspective, my perceptions however skewed they may be.

 

Faith

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The part where I am not sure I agree with you is what I perceive as the assumption (and please correct me if I am wrong) that you only have to know that which you intend to teach to be able to teach it. More often than not, it is not so: in order to teach a BASIC level in something, you yourself need to be ADVANCED, or else you can be so "off" without realizing how "off" you are.

 

I do need to correct that. ;) I must not be communicating very well. When I said that "I don't mean to be implying that I think anyone can teach any subject or that a person can teach without acquiring their own knowledge base BEFORE teaching a topic/subject," what I am trying to say is that you must gain the advanced knowledge you need to teach at a more basic level, and that you must do it before you begin teaching that basic level. You are clearly more skilled at expressing thoughts on paper than I am!

 

If you are at the same level as the student, you may both be moving forward, but the student is being shortchanged. The teacher has to have more advanced knowledge than the lesson being taught in order to teach the lesson. Without that advanced knowledge, you cannot present things in different way to try to further understanding, for instance. I have personally experienced this need for advanced understanding not only in our homeschool, but in other settings as well, from trying to teach something like a craft or home repair to being in the car with a teen driver to trying to substitute at the last minute in elementary Sunday School classrooms and recognizing that I was not prepared enough to teach!

 

Hope I'm being more clear now.

 

Shelly

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When I said that "I don't mean to be implying that I think anyone can teach any subject or that a person can teach without acquiring their own knowledge base BEFORE teaching a topic/subject," what I am trying to say is that you must gain the advanced knowledge you need to teach at a more basic level, and that you must do it before you begin teaching that basic level. You are clearly more skilled at expressing thoughts on paper than I am!

 

There's a sad irony when I write a grammatically dreadful sentence, and follow it up with a statement about how I don't express thoughts on paper well!

 

:blushing:

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In my view, it is not even teaching that is problematic, but grading.

It reminds me of the standardized tests in which the creators only envisioned one correct answer, while in reality several of the possibilities could be correct. Found this interesting paper on errors in standardized tests, at http://www.bc.edu/research/nbetpp/statements/M1N4.pdf

 

Or (harkening back to Liping Ma) the whole discussion of how poorly American teachers a) reacted to her hypothetical of a "discovery" on the part of a student that those with a basic understanding of geometry would recognize was invalid and b) were able to answer basic questions about, say, what the definition of area is, where they had to go look in a book. If you can only say the correct answer is the one you yourself can understand or come up with, is that fair to your students?

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In my view, it is not even teaching that is problematic, but grading. Even if I can fathom teaching what I am not so comfortable with - say, history - by using a lot of additional materials and support, as well as working on my own knowledge, I cannot fathom grading it, for official purposes.

 

I do agree with you on this. It can be very problematic. For this reason, though my knowledge and understanding of english and history is more than sufficient to guide my child's education and even directly teach concepts at the high school level, we added outside evaluation to our homeschool. One instance that comes to mind were the history "blue book" exams I required of dd for 10th grade. I was grading these and my sister (a double major in college in history and psychology) really felt that I was being too tough. At first I was skeptical, but since I wanted to make certain, I asked a friend of mine, a former history professor to weigh in. I was being too tough and in the process being unfair to dd's GPA and discouraging her to boot. Sensing this may have also been the case in English, I farmed out some grading to another friend who has taught English at an excellent LAC and is also a prolific poet. Again, I was being unreasonable for the age and maturity level of my 14 year old and grading at more of a sophomore college level. In order to keep myself on track with appropriate assignments and grading while not losing sight of our academic goals, I regularly sent assignments to them for input. This worked very well and I was pleasantly surprised that the fees for doing so were nominal.

 

Faith

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If you can only say the correct answer is the one you yourself can understand or come up with, is that fair to your students?

 

A reason more why a discipline - any discipline - should, ideally, be taught by an "insider" in the field who knows how to think "on the discipline's terms", so to speak, because there are just so many intricacies... and many times, whether we like it or not, we are lowering the quality of the instruction by not being aware of them.

 

But then again, at some point you just have to draw the line and decide that this is good enough, even if it is not perfect... A tough line to draw. I sometimes find myself balancing between the urge to just hire a set of private tutors and call it a day on one hand and the urge to really apply myself to the best of my abilities and be as self-sufficient as possible in our homeschool on the other hand.

In order to keep myself on track with appropriate assignments and grading while not losing sight of our academic goals, I regularly sent assignments to them for input. This worked very well and I was pleasantly surprised that the fees for doing so were nominal.

I do this too, it helps me to remove some pressure off my conscience AND to reassess my standards, in spite of the annual outside evaluation. Even more than papers themselves, I like to schedule my kids to talk with those people, if applicable, and then hear their estimates of my kids' knowledge afterwards. It helped me a lot to put things in perspective, consider whether I was being too tough or too lenient on some aspects, etc.

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This is why I don't test OR give grades. My children excell at finding other right answers so I can't do it the easy way by using somebody else's answers with somebody else's test. I can't make my own tests because I've tried and I am rotten at it. I think most multiple choice tests only test recognition. I usually have a fairly good idea of how well my children have understood, but that doesn't mean I can assess them objectively with tests or give their papers a grade. Instead, I ask them questions and I comment on their writing and tell them how to improve and we muddle along as best we can. Sigh.

-nan

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I'm just saying that IF you need to outsource a class, that is your personal decision. But that particular class ceases to be homeschooling, so I have a problem with it all being called homeschooling. It sounds like you homeschooled for all subjects you felt qualified for, and then outsourced what you felt needed something more. ;) Not everyone has such enriching outside sources to facilitate for their children, which it sounds like you and others have a plethora of(SO lucky!). So if a parent has outside sources with real live people, or a computer to provide that---what is the difference as far as 'facilitating'?

 

I have no problems with parents doing what they need to do to educate their children---it's not my business what methods work for some families ;) I just do have a problem with calling it ALL homeschooling when parts of it are not at all. How about Creative Schooling or Individualized Learning?

 

I agree :iagree:

 

I think this is partly a semantics issue but also a closer look at homeschool academics, which was the original point of the thread.

 

When I started homeschooling and would go to the local support meetings, a question like, "Are you still homeschooling your high schoolers?" would get answers like, "Partly; we're doing English and History at home together, but he's going to the high school for Band and the CC for Math." Kind of like when I said my oldest was "in public school, but taking math at the CC."

 

Now, with the HUGE numbers of GIANT co-ops around here, parents always say they are "homeschooling" but it turns out they aren't at home for ANYthing. I mean, they do their homework at home (like my ps kids did), but someone else is choosing the curriculum, planning the assignments, deciding how to assign grades, and in the end educating the child. I guess the deciding factor for those families is that they fill out "homeschool" forms in the district each year, but even our state (Christian) organization is concerned that "home" is being taken out of "homeschool" in our area.

 

Now, if someone is hiring a French speaker to talk in French with their child, or hires a piano teacher, now that isn't different than my public schooled oldest who also had trumpet lessons and a hockey coach. But his grades on his transcript were decided by his public school, according to their standards and evaluations, so he was "public schooled."

 

If I read a biography about someone who was homeschooled throughout childhood, then that means that the parents taught them at home, together and/or on their own, and maybe provided some interaction or materials in different areas. If the child actually went on to have an outside teacher, then the biography will NOT say he was homeschooled all the way thru, but will instead say he was homeschooled at home until the teen years, or that he had a tutor, or whatever.

 

I think it's important to define because we are a large support system for teaching at home and because we are the ones who speak up for our rights as homeschoolers. Therefore, it seems important to clearly support parents teaching "at home" and getting behind the idea that parents *can* do this for their own children -- at home. It's good to suggest ways to raise the academic bar, but I don't think it helps the homeschool movement to push for sending kids out of the home. That's what the public school told me when I brought my dd home in 10th grade. And they were wrong.

 

Granted, some kids in any educational system will not get a lot of academics (I had public schooled girls in my Girl Scout troop who couldn't read after 10+ years of ps; I knew ps teachers who couldn't manage a class for the life of them). Everyone will never be the same. Pushing for all homeschoolers to be the same just won't work. But on the other hand, there are kids being taught at home who *are* getting strong academics.

 

More important than the parent knowing a particular item is teaching how to learn and how to work. I taught my ds geometry this year even though I don't think I ever had geometry with proofs, or if I did it was over 35 years ago. However, I feel strongly that there is no way he could have learned as much in a classroom as he did at home, because I was there for him and helped him learn how to think. Learning how to think is just more important than memorizing a particular detail (that they may well forget). And with the internet, it's impossible not to find some way to explain something well. Oh, and learning within a home value system -- well, that's priceless IMHO,

 

Julie

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In other fields it might be less drastic, but still, I find that my children learn the most from people in the field, people who have a net of intra- and interdisciplinary connections needed to understand the whole of a field, not only a specific subset taught to the students. And this, in my view, is where homeschooling fails when compared to those outstanding public and private schools where professor expertise is valued: you just cannot be an expert for all areas, even if you can usually handle pretty well a few areas that are tangential to the field you come from.

 

In my view, it is not even teaching that is problematic, but grading. Even if I can fathom teaching what I am not so comfortable with - say, history - by using a lot of additional materials and support, as well as working on my own knowledge, I cannot fathom grading it, for official purposes.

 

By grading maybe you mean useful feedback? The homeschool grades we saw on transcripts where I worked were the butt of routine joke. I don't think they *care* what grades we assign. But yes, if your dc is working at such a high level that you can't give them valuable feedback on their work to help them improve, then by all means outsource.

 

Then I need to make a slight chuckle at the thought of many teachers being "experts" in their fields. I had a volleyball coach for biology. Um, I'm trying to think when I actually had any experts. I did the last two years, but that was at a special school, where even then there were clunkers. Finding excellent teachers, well that's like finding gems, not the norm. In other words, if we count back at all the mediocre, ineffective teachers *we* had in school, I don't think we should be appalled if we aren't experts. Might be nice if we were, but college is still ahead for the areas where we aren't. It's not like we've ended the road or done them wrong if we can't fulfill them in every area right now.

 

So I readily admit that it is harder for me to "see" the viewpoint of those with a less rigorous perspective towards high school academics.

 

 

My only observation with this is that there are numerous people on the board here, just as smart and geeky, who have kids who will NEVER be able to do the things the parents would like, never will be intellectually stimulating in certain fields or able to keep up with them. It's not merely what we can dream up but what really fits them and turns them into whole, rounded human beings.

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So then here's a serious question. I had Latin in 6th and 7th grades, and promptly forgot most of it, aside from good old agricola, puela, and the like. If I want my kids to study Latin -- which I don't actually feel passionate about, but let's just say -- what is the solution? Outsourcing? Riding the Magic Schoolbus back to ancient Rome for summer vacation?

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I think that in defining terms, we probably each should specify what we mean by coop.

This fall will be the first year we've been in a coop. I'm teaching a writing class that covers characteristics of a novel and then does creative writing on chapters we will each outline for our story.

My kids are taking science experiments (4th grade), chess, novel writing, yearbook, graphic design and art. The coop is two hours twice a month.

 

I don't feel that either the subject matter or the time investment is going to invalidate our being homeschoolers. Even if my kids were enrolled in the more academic offerings like IEW and high school science lab, that is a far cry from taking over the homeschooling week.

 

At the other extreme are cottage schools or coops where the students' week is mapped out by the coop teacher. There is some point where that becomes a tutor or a parentally run private school.

 

I don't personally know where the line is. I suspect it depends on the family (goals and what they require outside of coop time) as well as the nature of the coop. But I think that it is perhaps unfair to say that families who are outsourcing a subject or two to the community college or private tutor have ceased being homeschoolers.

 

(I cook most of my own food. But I don't think a meal is less home cooked because I don't bake my own bread or raise my own chickens. There is a continuum with total self-sufficiency on one end and totally catered on the other. There is some rather wide swath that consists of home cooking.)

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Then I need to make a slight chuckle at the thought of many teachers being "experts" in their fields. I had a volleyball coach for biology. Um, I'm trying to think when I actually had any experts. I did the last two years, but that was at a special school, where even then there were clunkers. Finding excellent teachers, well that's like finding gems, not the norm. In other words, if we count back at all the mediocre, ineffective teachers *we* had in school, I don't think we should be appalled if we aren't experts.

 

Maybe my view is clouded by the fact that I did attend public school not in the US, but in a country where teachers DID have a specialized degree in the subject they were hired to teach. A Russian teacher was fluent in Russian (and had usually spent some time there); an English teacher was fluent in English (even though political circumstances did not allow for the teacher having spent time in an English speaking country). A math teacher would have a specific education to enable him to teach math - not just a generic teaching degree.

So, although I have come across teachers who were maybe not nice personalities, were not effective in the classroom, they all had training in the very subject they taught - something, I understand, is not the norm in the US (which I find a very strange concept)

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Goodness, I can't keep up with this thread and life.....and life definitely has priority!!;)

 

I honestly didn't have the time to read things slowly and absorb everything in detail, but I did want to share some thoughts about things that jumped out at me.

 

I do disagree that we can't teach that in which we are not experts. I know it can be done b/c I have several times over. :tongue_smilie: For the most part, high school material is introductory and learning it as an adult, I pick up on things that my kids do not. I have a bigger picture in which to put perspective what we are learning and I do have my own educational history that I can attempt to resurrect.

 

Where I personally have had to seek outside help has been with pre-cal up and advanced sciences. Private tutors, online classes, and TC lectures/Cengage/opencourseware have been what I have sought to help me. Even then, I can ask pointed questions to get them to think things through and question their original assumptions. Whether that is considered facilitation/non-homeschooling, I am engaged and involved. I don't understand a lot of what my rising 10th grader is talking about, but I do listen and constantly question what he says. My "ignorant" questions often cause him to go researching for an answer.

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My only observation with this is that there are numerous people on the board here, just as smart and geeky, who have kids who will NEVER be able to do the things the parents would like, never will be intellectually stimulating in certain fields or able to keep up with them. It's not merely what we can dream up but what really fits them and turns them into whole, rounded human beings.

 

 

Thank you Elizabeth, I was not articulating very well in that area. I should have thought about the wording more before posting. I really didn't mean to imply anything about others or their children. What I meant to say is that my perceptions, as I said at the beginning of my post, are jaded or a bit off probably. Our children, all four of them, have fit well with dh's and I's aspirations for their educations. I know that there are children out there that would wilt if their homeschool looked like our homeschool. I know that and that's why I don't think my way is the only way to a quality education. I've just never had to explore another way of getting from point a. to point b. because we've been really blessed to have kids that are a lot like us, love learning academics, and respond to our methods, well, usually. :D Again, I am really not nailing what I want to say here and I think that may have to do with double dosing on allergy meds because the pollen count is just awful today.

 

And gaps? Oh yes, gaps happen...they happen like potholes and cracks in the road after a long winter. No one can know everything; no one can begin to cover it all. Plus, I don't think it would be beneficial. Variety, specialization, diversity, it's the spice of life! We let dd slack a little in English and History (not enough to be dumbing down or calling non-high school level work, high school, but some) in order to make time for more science electives. This worked out very well for a kid headed into the medical profession.

 

There...I've probably described educational quicksand. But, I do see some curriculums out there that only aspire to grammar and logic stage learning, but call it high school/rhetorical stage.

 

LOL, I really need another pot of coffee!

 

Faith

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Well, I don't qualify to answer, but in my mind, how would it be *less* work to drive each of your kids to different places, keep track of their schedules, payments, required materials, and due dates, plus fit your own classes in between the gaps? It sounds a lot like public school vs. homeschool -- some think homeschool is a lot more work, but to me, homeschool is the same amount of work but just the work I feel is important to me.

 

Julie

 

You would think that would be the case, right? However, I have a 4 year old who routinely gets into all kinds of mischief while I try to teach math-everything from flooding (almost) my bathroom while trying to wash her own hair in my sink to drawing all over her face with a hot pink Sharpie! And has pretty much outgrown naps(with the way she gets into stuff, leaving her alone in her room for quiet time somewhat terrifies me :D) So, in reality, would we have gotten those dissections done at home? Would I have been able to read the Odyssey and Julius Caesar and Poetics, etc and been able to understand them enough to discuss with my son? Can I get him to the level in foreign language he wants to achieve, when all I seem to be able to remember is Donde es el bano? and Pardon Senorita? He plans to go into some sort of government/international agency and needs those languages. I think with 4 kids, even if they all only have one or two activities, it gets crazy. At the same time, online classes are outrageously priced, and we can take classes far cheaper through our homeschool group ($50/semester for Spanish from an amazing teacher vs. $300-$500 or more online from an unknown entity). So, I don't know the best option. If I felt confident to teach him everything or could afford online classes, it would be different. Right now I am just trying to figure out how to teach preK, elementary, middle school, and high school-all the subjects for 4 different levels. I have tried teaching some stuff together, but they are spaced just far enough apart, and being boy/girl/boy/girl-my 12 dd is so far beyond my 10ds, but not mentally and spiritually mature enough to work with my 15ds. Its just plain hard! Not that I am complaining about that-I'm not afraid of hard work-I just curious how others do it and want to get some ideas for making it easier without losing the standard of education we hope to achieve.

 

It is far easier to drive them around with a preschooler than teach=she's still in a car seat, ya know! Maybe I should bring the car seat in the house and strap her down!

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So, although I have come across teachers who were maybe not nice personalities, were not effective in the classroom, they all had training in the very subject they taught - something, I understand, is not the norm in the US (which I find a very strange concept)

Ditto.

 

I got to meet a few genuine crackpots, though - I am not sure if they even grow that kind of crackpots in America. The sort of people who genuinely believe that there is a correct answer to a question such as, "What is your favorite church in Rome?" (Art History). But even that crackpot had a formal background and it was blatant, if you bothered to attend and listen.

 

Usually, in many countries the procedure is (or at least used to be before the new reform messed up many things) that first you have a formal background in the field and then you get the pedagogical competences needed to teach (a whole 'nother set of exams related to crowd control, specific methods of teaching your field, general educational psychology and whatnot), as well as a practical experience, usually while still advancing professionally within your field. So there were two sides to it: knowing your field and having pedagogical competences needed to teach. And then you were ready to teach.

 

Mind you, there are still lousy professors, but to be fair, they are usually pedagogically lousy rather than professionally lousy (not that the latter was unheard of, though, especially among old-timers who meanwhile got out of touch with some things). The problem is usually that they do not teach effectively, or are personally lazy and prefer to chat, or whatever, but not in the fact that they genuinely do not understand what they teach or lack intra- and interdisciplinary connections needed to have a clear picture in their mind and to make it work for their students.

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So then here's a serious question. I had Latin in 6th and 7th grades, and promptly forgot most of it, aside from good old agricola, puela, and the like. If I want my kids to study Latin -- which I don't actually feel passionate about, but let's just say -- what is the solution? Outsourcing? Riding the Magic Schoolbus back to ancient Rome for summer vacation?

 

You get good books, and you figure out where your child went wrong when something didn't match the answer key. Or get good dictionaries & translate something on your own, like many historical figures did. And when you get stuck, ask over here or on the website of the publisher or do a good google search.

 

Or you can not homeschool that subject, if you like :)

Julie

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Ditto.

 

I got to meet a few genuine crackpots, though - I am not sure if they even grow that kind of crackpots in America. The sort of people who genuinely believe that there is a correct answer to a question such as, "What is your favorite church in Rome?" (Art History).

 

Oh yes, we do grow that variety here in America! "What is your favorite ____" in one of my music history courses, was code for "What is my favorite______?" and you better believe that it was nearly always the "right answer to everything." I'm pretty certain this nut had traced the evolution of all things musical directly to J.S. Bach alone. Despite his obvious failings as a rational human being, my classmates and I learned quite a deal from him as we sifted through his rantings.

 

Now, before I take a beating from Bach crazed enthusiasts, I would just like to go on record as saying that I do adore J.S.!

 

Faith

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You get good books, and you figure out where your child went wrong when something didn't match the answer key. Or get good dictionaries & translate something on your own, like many historical figures did. And when you get stuck, ask over here or on the website of the publisher or do a good google search.

Thanks for these ideas....

 

Or you can not homeschool that subject, if you like :)

Julie

Sure but what if one's weak area is, say, math or literature?

 

My math teacher in high school claimed to have been a theater major. He taught the honors classes.

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I thought homeschooling was a legal definition.

 

I'm going into my sixth year of homeschooling, and I try to choose the best way to give my children what I think they need. How is it different if the Chalkdust guy is teaching my kids versus a tutor?

 

I do think there is this overemphasis on curriculum in general. Curriculum should not be viewed as so necessary. No curriculum is magic. And the curriculum should not be our master, but we should be the master of it.

 

If you use things like Apologia, Writing Strands, Teaching Textbooks, MFW, or Sonlight, or any other product to facilitate learning, then I say you are using resources just like someone who hires a tutor for something or enrolls a child in an outside class.

 

And we should always remember our importance in our children's lives, how much we can give our children by just spending time with them, by giving them time to daydream, enjoy nature, be with their family and learn in a natural environment. It's a loss to try to turn a home into a school.

 

I love the freedoms homeschooling affords my family. And I welcome diversity in the homeschool community. I'd rather be inclusive than exclusive. Let's encourage each other. Let's help dispel fear in the homeschool community that kids need a lot of lesson plans and workbooks and programs to learn when they really don't. And nope, I'm not saying don't teach your children phonics or basic arithmetic or how to write their letters.

 

But also, don't start telling parents if they outsource calculus or high school science or Latin or whatever, they aren't homeschoolers anymore or at least not for that subject. Let's not reduce homeschooling to that kind of restrictive definition.

 

Shouldn't we judge less and encourage each other more?

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Maybe my view is clouded by the fact that I did attend public school not in the US, but in a country where teachers DID have a specialized degree in the subject they were hired to teach.

 

That might finally explain some of the more bizarre comments in this thread. See I don't think I'm out of line to suggest that many of us on this board, while not up to the snuff of some from european or whatever backgrounds, are simply trying to do a better job than what is available to us. And frankly, if you knew what was available to us as school alternatives, you wouldn't think we were doing such a bad job. One school I went to in the South didn't even have TEXTBOOKS in the french class for pity's sake. When I moved north we got textbooks (requiring a lot of catch-up, mercy me) but still had unqualified teachers and a lack of teaching. (We watched videos most of the year and graded our own papers for the "biology" class with the volleyball coach, learning el zippo.) Oh, I forgot, I did have a really well-qualified, expert for one course, but that was Small Engine Repair, the most interesting elective I could find that year.

 

So come on. I've seen transcripts and test scores from kids where the mom was a high school DROPOUT, never even went to college, and the woman got her kids, not only through high school material, but through CALCULUS. The woman had SPUNK. She learned ahead of her kids. She made it happen.

 

When I went away to school, my first experience with a real *expert* as a teacher was for AP Chem. I walked in, and the lady said she was there as a *facilitator* not a teacher. It was our job to learn, and her job to facilitate it. It's still a concept I ponder, all these years later, whether my job, with a particular subject or task with dd, is to "teach" her or facilitate.

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Legal definition. You know, I think that is exactly why I am still calling us homeschoolers, even though we do some stuff at the CC and I feel compelled to point that out any time I mention the homeschooling. Every year, I fill out an application to homeschool. I write out our educational plan and submit it to be approved. I write out year-end progress reports. *I* do that, not the school system. Even if I am not necessarily doing all the teaching, the town considers *me* responsible for my children's education, unlike children at public school. (I also find that when I mention that my children take community college classes, tension eases and people relax and don't ask as many questions. I don't particularly care what people think of us, since we are odd anyway, even without the homeschooling, but people seem either to become defensive when homeschooling is mentioned and I have to comfort them and point out the advantages of public school, or else they sound like they are scolding or warning me. Neither are comfortable.)

-Nan

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TC dvd's. I haven't used these much, but I suspect I will as my kids get older. I love that there are so many to choose from.

 

AoPs. Again, we haven't used this program yet, but I'm looking into it for next year. Maybe it was around 10-15 years ago. I don't know.

 

Ironically, though, neither of these is specifically for the homeschool market. :D

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Pondering the original question...

 

In what way has curriculum changed?

 

Can someone compare the assignments or goals from twenty years ago to curriculums of "today?" I'm confused. Aren't most of the materials from 15+ years ago that were listed still available now?

 

It would seem to me that the weight of the numbers would just take over. Isn't it possible that the number of people who are offering their kids a rigorous education via hsing would be on the rise even if they represent a smaller percentage of the homeschool population?

 

When ever I start to wonder about the "voices" in hsing, it helps me to remember that many of the "experts" in hsing are the folks who are running conventions and speaking and writing articles and cranking out curriculum. SO many of them aren't actually hsing. Every. Single. Day. Their wife is. Or they are adapting their materials for our market or...... So I have learned not to listen to what they say. When they say something is comprehensive, I think, "Mmmmm... we'll see." When I have started peppering them with questions, they start to get uneasy. They OBVIOUSLY want me to leave their booth!

 

When they say something is easy to teach, I think, "Says you." If you follow that up with a "Why?" question, you can learn a lot. "Why would this particular program make this subject easier and yet still be comprehensive? What have you discovered that makes this subject easy when the rest of the entire world still struggles with the idea that this subject is hard? I don't get it!"

 

When they say something is designed for completely independent study, I giggle, "Hilarious!" Not at my house! :001_smile: They obviously interact with "adults." I interact with teens. My teens. Obviously a different population.

 

I guess I am wondering about the question. Don't we have choice? Can't we choose anything we want - within reason? We have money to spend so the "market" will attempt to capture our dollars; they will give us what we ask for. If we ask for "easy," they will say that their materials are easy. If we ask for comprehensive, they will give us comprehensive. And yes, they are free to put ANY label on it we push for; they are happy to do it. The label means nothing. It's the wisdom and experience of the buyer that matters.

 

I guess that's the drum I feel like beating. We are getting what we have asked for. Shouldn't we know better? If we know what we want, we should insist upon it. We'll get it. The folks who want our money will follow our dollars. We need to stop looking for magic bullets. There are so few wormholes in education. Most of it - even within the realms where I HAD expertise - has been a TON of hard work. And that statement is a tough sell. No one whats to buy THAT set of luggage for this journey. :001_smile:

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

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Which explains a lot of the problems plaguing upper level math instruction in schools, for instance. Unless you understand calculus, there is no way you can TEACH it.

 

For all I know, our state is very unique (though I doubt it,) but I have to get almost a full math degree to attain my secondary mathematics degree. I will have had all of the same classes a math major takes (I'm actually going to take the one more class - a 4 credit senior practicum - in order to just get the double major.) Granted, if I was hired to teach algebra, and I did that for 20 years, I might forget the calculus. :001_smile:

 

I actually don't think that's the problem with high schools. I think it's that the students coming in had elementary teachers who didn't know their subject areas and ill prepared students for upper level classes. In our area at least, secondary teaching degrees do require expertise, but elementary teaching degrees require basic classes in several subject areas. So I'm agreeing with whomever said that you need an advanced level of knowledge to successfully teach a beginner level of a a subject well (and again, I recommend The Seven Laws of Teaching, which gives a list of reasons to defend this.)

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When ever I start to wonder about the "voices" in hsing, it helps me to remember that many of the "experts" in hsing are the folks who are running conventions and speaking and writing articles and cranking out curriculum. SO many of them aren't actually hsing. Every. Single. Day. Their wife is. Or they are adapting their materials for our market or...... So I have learned not to listen to what they say. When they say something is comprehensive, I think, "Mmmmm... we'll see." When I have started peppering them with questions, they start to get uneasy. They OBVIOUSLY want me to leave their booth!

 

Or they are saying what will comfort homeschool moms, which will get them invited back to conventions and sell their curriculum. We ahve to start thinking of the majority of vendors of homeschool materials not as trusted advisors, but as business people. WE are the ones who should be asking the hard questions, as you say.

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years ago when I started homeschooling it seemed like the curriculum was harder, it does seem much too easy now. I did check with our Community college that dd will be attending next year and the subjects she does not need I am not going to even bother with teaching her.

instead she is learning HTML from her father. That will take up half a day each day .

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I happened to be helping in my son's classroom the day the teacher and assistant did the unit on floating and sinking in third grade. It was chaos. The teachers had no idea why a boat will float or sink. Ug. I had to explain. I also saw another teacher in 5th grade mangle the explanation of how a knot log works. I think perhaps we should have two teachers per elementary grade - one for stem subjects and one for humanities and language arts. You could do this by doubling up the grades into pairs, so you would have the same English teacher two years in a row.

-Nan

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So maybe that is partly it? That the vendors have changed from homeschooling mothers making a little money on something they designed for their own family to non homeschoolers?

-Nan

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Well said, Janice.:001_smile:

 

Pondering the original question...

 

In what way has curriculum changed?

 

Can someone compare the assignments or goals from twenty years ago to curriculums of "today?" I'm confused. Aren't most of the materials from 15+ years ago that were listed still available now?

 

It would seem to me that the weight of the numbers would just take over. Isn't it possible that the number of people who are offering their kids a rigorous education via hsing would be on the rise even if they represent a smaller percentage of the homeschool population?

 

When ever I start to wonder about the "voices" in hsing, it helps me to remember that many of the "experts" in hsing are the folks who are running conventions and speaking and writing articles and cranking out curriculum. SO many of them aren't actually hsing. Every. Single. Day. Their wife is. Or they are adapting their materials for our market or...... So I have learned not to listen to what they say. When they say something is comprehensive, I think, "Mmmmm... we'll see." When I have started peppering them with questions, they start to get uneasy. They OBVIOUSLY want me to leave their booth!

 

When they say something is easy to teach, I think, "Says you." If you follow that up with a "Why?" question, you can learn a lot. "Why would this particular program make this subject easier and yet still be comprehensive? What have you discovered that makes this subject easy when the rest of the entire world still struggles with the idea that this subject is hard? I don't get it!"

 

When they say something is designed for completely independent study, I giggle, "Hilarious!" Not at my house! :001_smile: They obviously interact with "adults." I interact with teens. My teens. Obviously a different population.

 

I guess I am wondering about the question. Don't we have choice? Can't we choose anything we want - within reason? We have money to spend so the "market" will attempt to capture our dollars; they will give us what we ask for. If we ask for "easy," they will say that their materials are easy. If we ask for comprehensive, they will give us comprehensive. And yes, they are free to put ANY label on it we push for; they are happy to do it. The label means nothing. It's the wisdom and experience of the buyer that matters.

 

I guess that's the drum I feel like beating. We are getting what we have asked for. Shouldn't we know better? If we know what we want, we should insist upon it. We'll get it. The folks who want our money will follow our dollars. We need to stop looking for magic bullets. There are so few wormholes in education. Most of it - even within the realms where I HAD expertise - has been a TON of hard work. And that statement is a tough sell. No one whats to buy THAT set of luggage for this journey. :001_smile:

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

:iagree: I like to ask if they homeschool in order to qualify their advice and suggestions.

Or they are saying what will comfort homeschool moms, which will get them invited back to conventions and sell their curriculum. We ahve to start thinking of the majority of vendors of homeschool materials not as trusted advisors, but as business people. WE are the ones who should be asking the hard questions, as you say.

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I like to ask if they homeschool in order to qualify their advice and suggestions.

 

I agree! This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. I've learned over the years to look at the bios of the authors - whether it be homeschool curriculum, raising children, etc. It means a lot to me to have something recommended by someone who has used it in a similar situation, or who has advanced education in the topic.

 

One of the things that made me question using Sonlight was the fact that John, himself, was able to do many of the read alouds and other parts of the program. I have, essentially, an absentee husband/father. Would that program work in the same situation? I simply could not keep up with the reading as well as raising my children and handling my house work.

 

James Dobson wrote a book on raising boys. My MIL gave it to me. I'm raising 4 boys! After the first few chapters I had to toss it because Dobson, albeit an educated man, just didn't get the dynamics of a family that is raising more than 1 or 2 boys. It boggled my mind to think he could claim to be an expert in raising boys (plural).

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So maybe that is partly it? That the vendors have changed from homeschooling mothers making a little money on something they designed for their own family to non homeschoolers?

-Nan

 

There were some interesting vendors in Cincy. On major curriculum that was sold to a much larger publisher had reps who didn't seem very familiar with their homeschooling product or with homeschoolers. I have used their product a lot and I think I did more to explain it to my friend than the reps did.

 

The flip side of this was the workshop my friend attends by an author of widely used science curriculum who spent most of the hour bashing public schools and expressing religious views but little discussing science or describing her products or discussing the workshop topic of how to pick curriculum.

 

I really don't get the dearth of experienced homeschoolers doing workshops and/or panels. I would love to hear a panel of several moms discussing how they handled high school math or science. Especially choices that go beyond the vendor hall. I understand that conventions need to give workshop time to vendors and that some of the speakers are what draws folks to conferences in the first place (like my driving 12 hours each way to hear SWB and Jim Weiss). But we act like the veteran homeschoolers are just consumers rather than keen evaluators of products and even frequently producers of homeschooling plans that can rival much of what is available for sale. (I just think we keep "professionalizing" homeschooling instead of equipping homeschoolers.)

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For all I know, our state is very unique (though I doubt it,) but I have to get almost a full math degree to attain my secondary mathematics degree. I will have had all of the same classes a math major takes (I'm actually going to take the one more class - a 4 credit senior practicum - in order to just get the double major.) Granted, if I was hired to teach algebra, and I did that for 20 years, I might forget the calculus. :001_smile:

 

I actually don't think that's the problem with high schools. I think it's that the students coming in had elementary teachers who didn't know their subject areas and ill prepared students for upper level classes. In our area at least, secondary teaching degrees do require expertise, but elementary teaching degrees require basic classes in several subject areas. So I'm agreeing with whomever said that you need an advanced level of knowledge to successfully teach a beginner level of a a subject well (and again, I recommend The Seven Laws of Teaching, which gives a list of reasons to defend this.)

 

:iagree: It was like this when I was an education major in college in Ohio. The high school ed students went fairly in-depth in our field--although we did have to take a significant amount of lame educational theory classes. The elem ed students were focused more on how to teach than what to teach b/c they taught the whole student whereas high school (and junior high) taught specialized subjects rather than students. This was a long, long time ago, however, and things might have changed in the educational world since my time.

 

Laura

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There were some interesting vendors in Cincy. On major curriculum that was sold to a much larger publisher had reps who didn't seem very familiar with their homeschooling product or with homeschoolers. I have used their product a lot and I think I did more to explain it to my friend than the reps did.

 

The flip side of this was the workshop my friend attends by an author of widely used science curriculum who spent most of the hour bashing public schools and expressing religious views but little discussing science or describing her products or discussing the workshop topic of how to pick curriculum.

 

I really don't get the dearth of experienced homeschoolers doing workshops and/or panels. I would love to hear a panel of several moms discussing how they handled high school math or science. Especially choices that go beyond the vendor hall. I understand that conventions need to give workshop time to vendors and that some of the speakers are what draws folks to conferences in the first place (like my driving 12 hours each way to hear SWB and Jim Weiss). But we act like the veteran homeschoolers are just consumers rather than keen evaluators of products and even frequently producers of homeschooling plans that can rival much of what is available for sale. (I just think we keep "professionalizing" homeschooling instead of equipping homeschoolers.)

:iagree: Especially the bolded!

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I am unbelievably grateful that somehow I got that right early on. I chose TWTM because it started with a situation I had (a reading fairly well but not writing yet first grader) and was a good cultural match and JW AND SWB HAD HOMESCHOOLED. I could so easily have spent more years struggling. The whole thing is a struggle anyway, without adding in bad advice from people who haven't actually tried it. There are some really fundamental things that non-homeschooling curriculum writers fail to take into account, like the fact that teaching dynamics change when the teacher is the mother.

-Nan

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The flip side of this was the workshop my friend attends by an author of widely used science curriculum who spent most of the hour bashing public schools and expressing religious views but little discussing science or describing her products or discussing the workshop topic of how to pick curriculum.

Interesting. I know a private school principal who did the same to me about the school, carrying on about what was going on in another state (dealing with birth control distribution, which didn't seem particularly relevant at the time since my child was 5!) instead of focusing on what is advantageous about that environment. Much is framed in terms of fear and reacting to others, even if it's grossly inaccurate.

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Yes, Angela. Comfort. Another tough concept. This project is so unnerving. Every day. Comfort is needed. In large doses.

 

But sometimes I just need a swift kick in the tush. And sometimes I feel like the community at large fails to embrace the notion of a swift kick as often as it needs to - at least as often as it has needed to in my case. In my own past, I can think of times when I needed a swift kick and instead have received soothing words of, "I'm sure you are doing a great job...." Fortunately I KNEW that wasn't true. So I changed things.

 

But maybe that's just a product of the privacy of homeschooling and the internet. It's impossible for someone else to make a judgement call on what I'm doing because they don't know me. And I don't know them. So how can you really know what to say to me? And how can I know who to listen to? Especially when both of our voices are shrouded in anonymity.

 

Anyway. Knowing that it has been an issue in my own past helps me understand the dynamic. I need to distrust the voice of the group because the group can't really even "hear" my questions correctly. Even if I could fully disclose all of the nature of who I am and what we are doing in order for you to understand the roots of my questions... (trust me - it's a boring story and I doubt anyone would have the patience to dig through the whooooooole boring thing) ...even then, the responses I receive don't make sense without context; I can't understand your response because I can't fully understand the context of your response.

 

Example: I was waiting for one of my kids one afternoon, and another hsing mom saw me working with one of my huge binders and numerous high lighters. Standard routine for me. Anyway. I suspect she thought I looked overwhelmed - some folks find a large binder intimidating. Not me. The more papers and sections, the better. ;) Anyway, she started asking some questions about what I was doing, and I guess I must have given her the impression that I was a bit frustrated with the # of things I was juggling. I WASN'T frustrated by the number of things I was doing. I was trying to answer her "What are you doing?" questions. My answers were just data for me, but in retrospect, I suspect she was overwhelmed by my answers and started feeling like, "If I was doing that, it would NOT be something I would enjoy. It would make me feel disorganized." Who knows what she was thinking for sure. I certainly can't know for SURE. Except, she obviously went to a dark place. And then she brightened. In her mind, she had reached an epiphany FOR me! She switched gears, her tone moved from inquiry to kind condescension, "Do you know what you need? You just need a schedule, dear. You will be amazed how simple things become if you just make a schedule. You just need a simple list for each of your kids. You know, a list that says "Math" and "Languages Arts" and ....." She paused. Then she launched. She was off and running - talking at me instead of to me. I knew it because she failed to read the heavy sigh that was screaming from my facial lines! My entire being was thinking, "Oh. My. Goodness. You have GOT to be kidding. If I showed her my schedule and my planner, her jaw would drop straight to the floor. She has no IDEA where I am in this process because she hasn't ASKED the right questions. She just immediately launched into a diary-reading of where SHE is in this process."

 

I've done it. I've done it a lot. It's hard to figure out which ball to throw when. It's much simpler to just throw the ball that happens to be in my hand.

 

Which doesn't always help the other person. Sometimes I suspect folks get annoyed with me. I'm practicing my throw which helps me tremendously; meanwhile, the other person is just getting hit with a ball she can't use. Bonk. Bonk. Bonk. Kinda selfish on my part. Makes me feel bad when I realized how OFTEN I have been doing it over the past 12 years.....;)

 

So to recap.... if I'm not sure if I should receive comfort or a swift kick and yet I am determined to seek comfort, how will that work? If I receive comfort, but don't trust the comfort - is that comforting? If I receive something other than comfort (ie. a swift kick), but long for comfort, am I likely to ignore the instruction and seek other voices who are offering what I want? SO if I KNOW what I'm looking for and refuse to acknowledge any input other than what I'm looking for, why am I looking for it? When I get it, it means nothing. Demanded comfort isn't comforting.

 

It's a weird cycle. Unnerving. And ironically discomforting.

 

Hmmm.... how is this post about curriculum..... even I can't connect this one back to the starting line.

 

OH wait! I can. If we ask the curriculum market for comfort, they will give it to us. They are happy to. They get our money, and the problems that arise from their solution is entirely OUR problem, NOT theirs! If my kid ends up with a sub-par education, is it ENTIRELY my fault, not theirs! Everything is on me. Completely. Even when I pay for an outside class. In the past five years, I have paid for multiple outside classes. And my kids have fallen down in some of those classes. (Remember - I've got those pesky teens while other folks are blessed to be raising adults. Sometimes I think I have toddlers.... I digress!) I have kids who have grandly stumbled and fallen down. A messy puddle. BUT I have never, ever, ever - even ONCE - received an email from a teacher that says, "Is everything OK? ____ seems to be having a bit of trouble in my class." Never. Nothing! Even the "supposedly" sub-par ps can't get away with that. They make the parent SIGN the report card or the failed test or _____. In the hsing world, it's ALL on the mom. All of it! You get what you look for and find. Little is handed to you in this environment.

 

Accountability within the hsing community? It's a mirage. There isn't much of it. Accountability from the curriculum providers? Even the notion of it makes me giggle. There's no real accountability. It's all just an informal nod. I nod at you. You nod at me. Nod, nod, nod. As a group, we shoot the folks who ask the tough questions. Those people are cruel and insensitive. We frown upon their lack of Christian forbearance. Actually trying to figure out what's good enough for REAL? It's ALL on the mom. All of the responsibility. You are free to choose what you want, but you can't pass the buck. You are COMPLETELY in charge of quality control. All of it. There is no. one. else.

 

An interesting but illuminating tangent: Watch the movie Inside Job. If Standard and Poors can testify before Congress that their AAA rating is just their opinion and they are required by NO ONE to back up that opinion OR bear one shred of responsibility if they are wrong - if THOSE folks are allowed to take the money and run, then we need to wise up! If we demand better service, we will get it. IMO, in general, we as hsers demand so little from the group that we buy from. That's why the Rainbow Resource Catalog swells exponentially each year. We're an easy target.

 

For me? I've found the answer is to pick hsing materials that fit our structure and schedule. Then I look to the secular world for ways to USE those materials to teach. In the end, I have found my favorite targets in the secular world. They actually do a GREAT job of making the targets pretty clear for me. Who would have thought?

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

P.S. Another great tangent: Crazy U by Ferguson. If you haven't read it, I would strongly recommend it. He shines the truth-flashlight on so many houses-of-cards that I took SUCH great comfort in when I was navigating the college-selection process with my oldest. He shows them for what they are: industries that have grown out of the parents' need for advice and comfort during an intensely difficult transition. We all want to know that we are giving our kids the best (which is ironically a statistical impossibility). The industry finds a way to make us feel better about our choices. And the irony is that since the money follows our demand around, the capitalistic process actually erodes the final value of our choices. The influx of capital actually weakens the options. A great read!

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years ago when I started homeschooling it seemed like the curriculum was harder, it does seem much too easy now.

 

Can some of you be more specific about which curricula are harder/too easy???

Are you all referring to high school level programs or all grade levels?

 

BTW I am really enjoying this thread.

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Guest Dulcimeramy

Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Kevin Swanson (self-proclaimed hs leader) and I have been involved in many debates and letter-writing campaigns to address his hyperbole and misogyny in the conservative Christian hs community. Who died and made him king? Anyway.

 

That said, one of my favorite hs'ing stories ever is about his wife! Their oldest son was about 11 or 12 years old and giving her the headaches that all our boys can give us at that age. When Kevin came home from yet another hs convention circuit she said to him, "You go all around the country talking about the wonders and joys of homeschooling. How about you try actually doing it for a day or two and see if you still like it?"

 

And she washed her hands of hs'ing the oldest boy and Kevin homeschooled him the rest of the way through high school.

 

Way to go, Mrs. Swanson.

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Guest Dulcimeramy

IMVHO, proper attention to the grammar and logic stages will prepare us to evaluate rhetoric-level curriculum.

 

SWB so clearly laid out a course for us in TWTM. As intelligent people, we were able to understand and get the point of her instructions for the younger years. Logic and rhetoric looked distant and intimidating back then, but we could feel pretty confident to teach the grammar stage and we bravely started down that road.

 

Upon completing the grammar stage, we looked for logic stage materials. And we were fussy! What is the main difference between neo-classical homeschoolers and everybody else when it comes to junior high curriculum? We reject anything that keeps the student in the grammar stage. We only accept books and instructional materials that help our children begin to synthesize and analyze facts and ideas gathered in their younger years.

 

That is unique. It is unique in America, but it is also unique among homeschoolers.

 

I've found that following true logic-stage methods has prepared me to evaluate rhetoric materials in the same way. Not to be too simplistic about it, there is more to the process than this, but my first criteria for high school materials is that they are obviously designed to help my son learn to convey the information and ideas that he personally has gathered, analyzed, synthesized, thoroughly understood, and about which he has an educated opinion or position.

 

If curricula designed for high school students looks to me like more of the logic stage, only with longer books, perhaps, or a few more elements, I reject it.

 

I've come to believe that the true educational process can be trusted.

 

I was amazed when my son let me know on his own that he was ready to move to the logic stage. He let me know by going there, himself, and I scrambled to catch up and provide him the necessary tools.

 

I'm awed but a little less surprised at how he has moved himself into the rhetoric stage at the appropriate time, as well. I've come to trust his lead and trust myself to evaluate whether educational opportunities will fill his current needs or not.

 

The worst thing I can do as a hs mom of a teen is to distract him and waste his time on studies that keep him from advancing in rhetoric and reason, that keep him stuck in second gear when he really desires to go forward. It doesn't matter how good those materials are purported to be, or who has used them with success with their own children. My son needs helped along the path that is laid out for him according to his abilities and goals.

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I happened to be helping in my son's classroom the day the teacher and assistant did the unit on floating and sinking in third grade. It was chaos. The teachers had no idea why a boat will float or sink. Ug. I had to explain. I also saw another teacher in 5th grade mangle the explanation of how a knot log works. I think perhaps we should have two teachers per elementary grade - one for stem subjects and one for humanities and language arts. You could do this by doubling up the grades into pairs, so you would have the same English teacher two years in a row.

-Nan

 

Umm, what's a knot log? Another NE term?

 

I really don't get the dearth of experienced homeschoolers doing workshops and/or panels. I would love to hear a panel of several moms discussing how they handled high school math or science. Especially choices that go beyond the vendor hall. I understand that conventions need to give workshop time to vendors and that some of the speakers are what draws folks to conferences in the first place (like my driving 12 hours each way to hear SWB and Jim Weiss). But we act like the veteran homeschoolers are just consumers rather than keen evaluators of products and even frequently producers of homeschooling plans that can rival much of what is available for sale. (I just think we keep "professionalizing" homeschooling instead of equipping homeschoolers.)

 

I agree!

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IMVHO, proper attention to the grammar and logic stages will prepare us to evaluate rhetoric-level curriculum.

 

(snip)

 

Upon completing the grammar stage, we looked for logic stage materials. And we were fussy! What is the main difference between neo-classical homeschoolers and everybody else when it comes to junior high curriculum? We reject anything that keeps the student in the grammar stage. We only accept books and instructional materials that help our children begin to synthesize and analyze facts and ideas gathered in their younger years.

 

 

 

I think you really hit on something here. But I need it in more concrete terms to really get it!

 

My oldest is only 12. We have been trying to do real logic stage, and I think we have done pretty well with it. But I am now trying to venture out a little further, without some of the crutches I have been using, and I am really struggling with some of it because I am lacking concrete definition of what I am doing. What makes something logic stage and what makes it rhetoric stage is something I haven't solidfyed in my head, and I think some of the things I have rejected have been because they feel, to me, like a continuation of grammar stage methodology into the later stages.

 

So is that part of the real issue? The use of grammar stage materials in high school level programs? I think I need some concrete advice on how not to do this and what I am really looking for as I plan our high school journey. How do I know the materials I am choosing are really in line with what they need to be, especially if I am choosing something not in WTM?

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I think you really hit on something here. But I need it in more concrete terms to really get it!

 

My oldest is only 12. We have been trying to do real logic stage, and I think we have done pretty well with it. But I am now trying to venture out a little further, without some of the crutches I have been using, and I am really struggling with some of it because I am lacking concrete definition of what I am doing. What makes something logic stage and what makes it rhetoric stage is something I haven't solidfyed in my head, and I think some of the things I have rejected have been because they feel, to me, like a continuation of grammar stage methodology into the later stages.

 

So is that part of the real issue? The use of grammar stage materials in high school level programs? I think I need some concrete advice on how not to do this and what I am really looking for as I plan our high school journey. How do I know the materials I am choosing are really in line with what they need to be, especially if I am choosing something not in WTM?

 

If you think about it too hard for too long, you'll end up with those of use who don't see them as so closely tied to developmental stages, but part of the process of learning, no matter your age. :D And, FWIW, it is sometimes appropriate to use grammar skills in high school, you just don't want to focus on them or get stuck there. There is no way to start a new subject, for example, and learn it well without at least a bit of work at the grammar level. (I'm telling myself this mostly, because that's hwo I get hung up in my college courses, trying to jump ahead.)

 

This is one of those cases of not being able to evaluate something until you know the material yourself, just like an individual subject area. You first have to have a very great knowledge of what grammar, logic, and rhetoric skills look like. Then you can evaluate anything. Maybe that would be another great thread: how do you get there...

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This is one of those cases of not being able to evaluate something until you know the material yourself, just like an individual subject area. You first have to have a very great knowledge of what grammar, logic, and rhetoric skills look like. Then you can evaluate anything. Maybe that would be another great thread: how do you get there...

 

Maybe that is where I am getting hung up ...

 

What I have tried to do is decide what I think we need to work on for each child at a particular grade and then decide what I can use to do that. But as my oldest is getting older, I start worrying that I am missing something, you know?

 

I guess I am just wondering about those of you who do feel strongly that things have been dumbed down. What is a good example of that? What is a good example of some things that aren't? And what are your guidelines for telling the difference? How are you coming up with the standards for it?

 

I think I am talking in circles, but I have been thinking (ok, overthinking) some of these things this year as I try to line up high school so I can make sure 7th and 8th grade prepare us for it. Maybe it is just last chance jitters, but all my friends are enrolled in a program, and the fact that I am uncomfortable enrolling makes me feel a little like I need to justify what I am doing IRL to my IRL friends. So all this makes me think I need something concrete to help me figure that out.

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I guess I am just wondering about those of you who do feel strongly that things have been dumbed down. What is a good example of that? What is a good example of some things that aren't? And what are your guidelines for telling the difference? How are you coming up with the standards for it?

 

As I said in the MUS question on the other board, I won't touch that one (of course, you can look at what I use and know a bit about what I think IS rigorous. :D) It's really a question to talk about one on one, because the minute you name a name, someone is offended (and really vocal about it.) And really, to be fair, what is rigorous to one is not to another and it can depend on hwo you use it. If you are thinking over a few options, you could put up a poll and garner public opinion. But I find the best thing to do is to pick out posters to pepper with questions in PMs.

 

But there have been some great threads here about the skills that students need to learn in junior high, what things students need to know to succeed in high school, etc. (Where's Lori D. when you need her? Oh, Loorrrriiii....:001_smile:)

 

And your last paragraph... I have learned from wise people that it is often best to go the other way when the whole crowd is headed in one direction. :D

 

And you're not normal if you don't worry that you're missing something!

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I think I am talking in circles, but I have been thinking (ok, overthinking) some of these things this year as I try to line up high school so I can make sure 7th and 8th grade prepare us for it. Maybe it is just last chance jitters, but all my friends are enrolled in a program, and the fact that I am uncomfortable enrolling makes me feel a little like I need to justify what I am doing IRL to my IRL friends. So all this makes me think I need something concrete to help me figure that out.

 

Oh boy, do I hear you! It seems so weird-my family and non-hsing friends finally see the benefit if what I am doing and don't think I'm crazy now. But my hsing friends can't understand why I don't follow the path of least resistance!

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