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And this is why I stay quiet in my homeschool group


Dmmetler
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This was posted on my homeschool group's facebook feed. Now, my child LOVES academic competitions. She doesn't care whether she wins or loses, and in fact, is most excited when she sees someone else she knows place well-even when it's someone she knows just online. In practicing for the World Ed games, I hear her talking to the person on the other end "Good job! You got more right that time!" "You are indeed a worthy adversary! I look forward to meeting you again!" "Sorry, Sachi, I guess your computer didn't work. It happens to me, too!". She feels a connection to these other kids that she doesn't get.

 

 

And she NEEDS that connection. She needs to feel that she's not the only child out there who is more interested in doing math than making fairy houses. That she's not the only kid out there who sees preparing to get a high score on an exam or memorizing words for a spelling bee is fun and something entertaining. She needs to know that she's normal.

 

How is she ever going to do that in a group where a large percentage of the kids have parents who automatically click "Like" and "Share" on the above quote?

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Well, I don't think your daughter's love of competition is in conflict with that quote.

 

I think getting a 100 for only the sake of getting 100, is not the same as desiring to connect with other kids at a math competition. I also suspect that she's interested in learning as well as a "high score." Is she focused on the high score because it means she's better than someone else? Or is she focused on it because it means she worked hard and it paid off?

 

That's a big difference, IMO.

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My kid isn't working for a petty and contemptible reward. She's working toward a leotard she has her eyes on. LOL.

 

I know you're talking about your self-motivated kid (like my 6yo who was thrilled to finally score a copy of Oliver Twist, and is keeping it by her toy castle for when she wants a reading break). But even for other kids - sometimes you gotta do what works. If a leotard gives that little extra motivation to keep up with the class, so be it. I'd much prefer self-motivation, but my kid's advanced nail and hair designs won't get her promoted to 2nd grade. ;)

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I think this quote is not tied to your daughter's love of competition. It is about pushing our own agenda's on our children rather than letting them be themselves. Pushing for prestige alone. Your dd competes etc because she loves it. The quote is more about the damage being a tiger mom can be, not about kids loving to get A's or compete etc because that is in their nature.

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Your child isn't doing it for the stars or the hundreds or the report card or external motivators like that. She is doing it for the love of the subject and the interest in learning. My son is very competitive with his pinewood derby, robotics and spelling bees. When he is old enough for the math competitions, he will be in hog's heaven. But it's not because he is being urged to do those things to get the awards. It is because he wants to do all of those things. At the spelling bee he just won, he clapped for every other speller on every word even when he was going head to head with just one other speller for many rounds. He didn't participate in the bee for the big blue ribbon. He did it because he really likes to spell words. If he was doing it for the prize or only because I pushed him to do it, then it would very much be both petty and contemptible IMO.

 

I would have clicked like to that post and it wouldn't be a mindless click, I like the point Holt is making. I don't see it at odds with having very academically minded kids who take pleasure in both competition and intellectual or academic challenges.

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I just the other day read a profile of a famous violinist (it was the guy who played incognito on the DC Metro a few years back) and he was talking about how he never would have become a world class musician if his mom had not forced him to practice on days when he did not feel like it. Behind pretty much every high achiever is a pushy parent. Where would Tiger Woods or the Williams sisters be today without their dads?

 

Selfishly, I say let all the slacker parents continue with their laissez-faire methods, as that means less competition for my kids...

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I like some of the things Holt wrote - it's very good to think about education in a radically different way than it is approached by the system that most of us grew up in. But I see so much of what he wrote being used and promoted in homeschooling circles where it's interpreted in one way only - and when it's used like that, it's become just more dogma.

 

I'm very much into "take what works for me and leave the rest". But some ideas become dividing lines in groups, where you are seen as being either on one side of the line or the other.

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Sounds like Holt doesn't understand that grades can be used as feedback on mastery levels. They aren't there to say "I mastered more than you,therefore you suck". They are there to say "You've got it. Good job. Move on and learn something else.". Holt must have grown up with grades as a ranking system for adults to use as selection criteria, rather than as a feedback system for students to use for self-improvement.

 

 

I think it can be interpreted many ways, some more critical than others. As someone who had bored teachers who handed out A's if you wrote your name legibly and Certificates of Mastery given by default more and more as they lowered the bar, I can see where Holt is coming from: extrinsic rewards have become hollow, some parents have become obsessed with their child becoming "the bestest and most tallest poppy in the garden, transplanting if necessary" and this expectation bleeds over into some kids who could care less about the subjects and just want to be the best. It doesn't apply to everyone, least of all your dd who sounds like she enjoys the journey of learning. I'd be more worried about how she'd fare in a group who got offended at the posting of that pic.

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I would have "liked" the quote. I do like the quote. I've read Holt, and I know that he had just as much regard for the toddler learning Algebra as for the 12yo building fairy houses. I like people who like John Holt, because the individuality of the child is a primary concern shared by him and his many fans.

 

I agree with the others. I don't see the conflict.

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I don't think the quote itself bothers me so much as the attitude that frequently accompanies it. There is a subset of homeschoolers who are hostile toward academic achievement. It can be dressed up as hostility toward extrinsic motivation or hostility toward academic rewards and recognitions, yet often it is just hostility toward academic achievement. My daughter's fairy garden is more creative and worthwhile than your daughter's spelling bee. It is exactly the kind of competition Holt was opposed to, but with different standards and goals for which child is the winner.

 

I like the quote, but I often don't like the attitudes expressed by the sort of homeschoolers that would post this sort of quote. This isn't a slam against anyone on this thread who expressed agreement with the quote. I just assume the op is more familiar with the attitudes in her real-life homeschool group than we are. It would irritate me to see this quote posted and "liked" by everyone in my homeschool group if I knew that in real life those same people did in fact have hostility toward academic achievement.

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I think my response is more because I'm well aware that the people posting and "liking" do NOT have the same regard for the child who is excited about learning algebra and set a goal of going to the national spelling bee at the age of 4 because Akeelah and the Bee looked like "So much fun"-they see the latter child as being pushed and denied a childhood, while a child who wants to learn archery after watching "The Hunger Games" or who spends hours a day playing video games is "following their passions".

 

 

It just seems like it's coming in spurts right now-the more relaxed folks are "following their child's passion" to do anything they want and are giving up any semblance of order, and my DD has a competition, contest, exam, or some other thing that's been a goal all year coming to it's peak almost weekly-and when DD explains that, no, I'm not going to the park to ride bikes because I want to study mythology for my test next week, she gets sighs and eyerolls not only from kids, but from adults.

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I think my response is more because I'm well aware that the people posting and "liking" do NOT have the same regard for the child who is excited about learning algebra and set a goal of going to the national spelling bee at the age of 4 because Akeelah and the Bee looked like "So much fun"-they see the latter child as being pushed and denied a childhood, while a child who wants to learn archery after watching "The Hunger Games" or who spends hours a day playing video games is "following their passions".

 

 

It just seems like it's coming in spurts right now-the more relaxed folks are "following their child's passion" to do anything they want and are giving up any semblance of order, and my DD has a competition, contest, exam, or some other thing that's been a goal all year coming to it's peak almost weekly-and when DD explains that, no, I'm not going to the park to ride bikes because I want to study mythology for my test next week, she gets sighs and eyerolls not only from kids, but from adults.

 

I understand. Some folks vastly underestimate the degree to which academics are fun and exciting for many kids and assume that mom and dad must be forcing it. It's annoying. Don't let annoying people spoil your day or your child's excitement in what she is seeking out.

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Yesterday I attended a Sunday School class where the video lecturer / book author scolded parents for having kids in a bunch of activities. Building character is more important. So apparently you can't build character if you are active outside the home?

 

I think all these criticisms / biases boil down to the assumption that whatever we do for our kids is to feed our own ego. I suppose some of that is true for some parents, but wouldn't it be nicer if we could give each other the benefit of the doubt?

 

It almost seems some parents who have "dropped out of the competition" for achievement are setting up their own competition. "My kids are better off because they have more down time." How is that any less ridiculous?

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I can understand those eyerolls...they are saying they don't beleive anyone can be so busy they can't squeeze an hour out for bikeriding, so there must be another unspoken issue. Perhaps she could word it another way: "I've already played today, now I'm doing some work. If you call me earlier tomorrow, I can plan you in as I like to bike with you." She is being guided to a balanced life, right? There is work as well as play each day?

 

I didn't think she was saying she didn't have time to bike because she had to study, but that she didn't want to ride bikes right then because she wanted to study (yeah some kids enjoy studying more than extra time outside, ask me how I know). If she'd sadly said, "I can't ride bikes, I have hours of homework before the mythology test" there might be some concern.

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Yes-but it also comes down to "You should do what we want to do." I don't think the kids who were rolling their eyes at DD not wanting to bike ride would have been too thrilled at helping her spent several hours making a life sized burmese python drawing on brown paper grocery bags-even though, for DD, that was fun and was what she did BETWEEN algebra, World ed games practice, and her literature class-and before she heads to the arts center this afternoon, where she has a dance class-but will also probably spend several hours on the playground since PS is out today and she's able to spend time with her dance friends. Which, I suspect, was one reason why she wanted to study for the NME this past weekend. That and, I think studying for the NME was also a chance to collapse and rest for awhile. I'm not sure that sleeping with your head on a half dozen books really counts as studying, but when you're too old to admit you need a nap....

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I think my own kids have done better with situations like this as they've matured and developed answers for questions they know a certain group might like to hear. Sometimes this does involve filtering themselves to a degree (this group of kids is into active play, this is the group of kids I can talk geeky stuff with, this is a group that likes books, etc), but really that is a good social skill that adults do constantly.

 

I have at least one GT kid who hates competition of almost any kind, and I've been to GT specific get togethers where I feel like those parents are rolling their eyes at my kid because he doesn't wear his giftedness on his sleeve as much as others might, so it does go both ways. He's extroverted and can find something to talk about with almost every kid. And actually, that is another "gift" of sorts that I wish I would have had as a child.

 

Kids are individuals. I wish more adults would avoid attempting to pigeon hole children. :(

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There are a lot of people who enjoy academics and so do their kids! My DS gets a sticker for each day of piano practice and each chapter of math work he completes (we are a mathy family and just love math and do a lot more math than the norm) and he pastes them in a book in patterns and multiples and has fun choosing them and counting them and when he gets to 100 stickers he goes out for a treat with mom. It totally motivates him to practice piano or doing math because he gets to choose the treat and the restaurant of his choice - given a choice my son would play with legos 24 hours of the day for 365 days of a year. His love of learning is thriving and has not been destroyed by his "pushy mom compelling him to work for petty rewards" (infact he asks for more math curriculum) and he is loving the progress he has made in piano and looks forward to learning, practicing and playing the theme to "Angry Birds" on his piano this year. I don't see my rewards system as being contemptible at all.

And I get the fact that the accomplishment and the pursuit of goals in itself should act as rewards, but may not necessarily work for a 5 year old.

Though my child enjoys the feeling of accomplishment when he masters a new piano piece or when he learns a new concept in academics, the reward system helps in keeping things "structured" in his learning process and instills in him the discipline to work towards a goal and achieving it and enjoying the sense of accomplishment (I earned 100 gold stars in 2 weeks, wow, that was quick!). In my mind those feelings of accomplishment that a small kid gets when he reaches those so called "contemptible rewards milestone" makes them feel powerful which is great confidence booster at that age.

Disclaimer: I have only one kid and do not have a psychology background and hence the opinion expressed here is homespun.

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I think his quote like most quotes will resonate with some people and will irritate others. There are kids that thrive on competition by themselves, there are kids that needs to be prodded and pushed to achieve their dreams and there are kids that nothing you say or do will move them. The issue is figuring out which camp your child belongs to and working towards that but like most things with parenting, it is not always easy.

 

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There are a lot of people who enjoy academics and so do their kids! My DS gets a sticker for each day of piano practice and each chapter of math work he completes (we are a mathy family and just love math and do a lot more math than the norm) and he pastes them in a book in patterns and multiples and has fun choosing them and counting them and when he gets to 100 stickers he goes out for a treat with mom. It totally motivates him to practice piano or doing math because he gets to choose the treat and the restaurant of his choice - given a choice my son would play with legos 24 hours of the day for 365 days of a year. His love of learning is thriving and has not been destroyed by his "pushy mom compelling him to work for petty rewards" (infact he asks for more math curriculum) and he is loving the progress he has made in piano and looks forward to learning, practicing and playing the theme to "Angry Birds" on his piano this year. I don't see my rewards system as being contemptible at all.

And I get the fact that the accomplishment and the pursuit of goals in itself should act as rewards, but may not necessarily work for a 5 year old.

Though my child enjoys the feeling of accomplishment when he masters a new piano piece or when he learns a new concept in academics, the reward system helps in keeping things "structured" in his learning process and instills in him the discipline to work towards a goal and achieving it and enjoying the sense of accomplishment (I earned 100 gold stars in 2 weeks, wow, that was quick!). In my mind those feelings of accomplishment that a small kid gets when he reaches those so called "contemptible rewards milestone" makes them feel powerful which is great confidence booster at that age.

 

I don't think rewarding children is petty or contemptible and I don't think that is what the quote is saying. I think it is saying that certain types of incentives and rewards are petty. Certain motivations for learning don't lead to a real education.

 

We don't have stickers (my son on almost 10 and wouldn't want them) but we do reward him for reaching his short and long term goals. The goals that he is being rewarded for are things he helped set up. I think that unless someone has read quite a bit of Holt, it is easy to take things like this out of context. The reward systems in institutional schools when Holt was writing were largely oriented to ranking kids and being superior. The schoolwork had very little to do with a child's interests. The idea that ultimately education is more about learning than accolades and more about expanding your own education than feeling being better or worse than others does not mean that it is petty for mom to load the kids into the car for a trip to the beach as a celebration of reaching a certain goal (counted towards in stickers or not.) I am not an unschooler or a total follower (if there is such a thing) of Holt, but there is significant value in a lot of his work.

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I listened to an NPR interview with Justice Sonia Sotomayor a month ago. She said that she was a "C" student until fifth grade when her teacher started passing out gold stars to the best students. She wanted gold stars and became motivated to earn them. She asked a student who always got gold stars how to earn them and her friend told her how to study and get organized. She became and "A" student that year. Her biography is fascinating. By the time she was 8 she was boiling needles to sterilize them because she had diabetes. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother worked long hours. She didn't have anyone at home to encourage her, so in her case the gold stars were the external motivator that she needed. She didn't need them forever. I think it is ridiculous that every kid is going to automatically have intrinsic motivation to complete every difficult task they encounter.

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It just seems like it's coming in spurts right now-the more relaxed folks are "following their child's passion" to do anything they want and are giving up any semblance of order, and my DD has a competition, contest, exam, or some other thing that's been a goal all year coming to it's peak almost weekly-and when DD explains that, no, I'm not going to the park to ride bikes because I want to study mythology for my test next week, she gets sighs and eyerolls not only from kids, but from adults.

 

These are the same parents who whine and complain when their kids don't get into top colleges as teens (see Caitlin Flanagan's "The Ivy Delusion" in the Atlantic magazine). Ms. Flanagan is right that parents can't have it both ways. The Asian moms aren't reading John Holt or watching "Race to Nowhere". They are Tiger Mothering their kids into the increasingly difficult to win slots at top schools.

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These are the same parents who whine and complain when their kids don't get into top colleges as teens (see Caitlin Flanagan's "The Ivy Delusion" in the Atlantic magazine). Ms. Flanagan is right that parents can't have it both ways. The Asian moms aren't reading John Holt or watching "Race to Nowhere". They are Tiger Mothering their kids into the increasingly difficult to win slots at top schools.

 

I would disagree that every child will respond well to Tiger style parenting and come out ahead. The author of the Ivy Delusion says "However, the way Chua is raising her girls crushes a lot of kids." . If you have happy, thriving kids that are responding to that approach, then you're doing well with your particular kids. And that's great. My kids are ahead of many peers at music, but I'm not a Tiger parent about it. We practice consistently 6 days a week like school and this is where we ended up. My son has intense kids practicing 2X as much as him that are behind him. I was actually shocked to learn this. So I wouldn't necessarily reason that a kid that is ahead must have a Tiger parent behind him either. Even the author of Battle Hymm of a Tiger Mother had to change her approach a bit for her 2nd child.

 

My younger child is extremely independent and I'm not an unschooler by any stretch, but my ability to get her up to the level I think she could be working has been difficult. However, she's extremely driven and motivated when it comes to orchestra and dance. I require her to write daily, but she never got really good at until she decided that skill served her well and now she writes tons on her own with no prompting. I don't think she will be successful at anything unless she finds an inner passion for it, and actually the harder I push, the more resistant she becomes. I have had to develop a very neutral tone with her and just set up some daily/weekly requirements and go from there. My older needs more direction and structure and is more open to a more pushy style of parenting (I'm sure Ms. Chua would find me somewhat pathetic though! ;).

 

I don't think parents reading John Holt or the Race to Nowhere are feverishly having their children apply to the Ivies. I also don't think every gifted kid needs to be Ivy bound to be successful either.

 

ETA - in the Flanagan article, she said approximately 35,000 kids apply for 1,640 spots at Harvard. My kid unicycles very well. One time a parent of older kids said - wow that's brilliant. That will stand out on a college application. Ummm ... ok. He loves it and chose it. Never crossed my mind. Sometimes what gets you in is what makes you different, not the same as all your peers. Nice short response article ...

http://theivycoach.c...ions-parenting/

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Interesting. I don't read that quote as discouraging competitiveness or academic achievement at all. But the measures of achievement he lists are all external - rewards given by other people to a child who meets their standards. What is missing there is a nurturing of the child's internal motivation and drive that comes when they're exploring something that engages and inspires them - that spark in their eyes.

 

I was a child who earned those rewards. I learned quickly how to recognize what answers teachers wanted, and I parroted them back to them obediently. As a result, those awards were hollow and meaningless to me. They had failed to engage me, had failed to teach me how to learn, evaluate, reason, and really think deeply about things. That's the warning I read in that quote.

 

ETA: I have not read any of Holt's books. This was just my reaction to this quote, standing alone.

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I don't think the parents who see academic competition and grades as something to be avoided are aiming for the ivies. Of the self-styled unschoolers, those with adult or college age kids mostly have kids attending or who have attended various state and close to home private colleges, and they seem pretty content as adults, so it worked for them.

 

DD, at this point, isn't seeing competitions as a means to an end-or, if she does, the end is meeting and getting to spend time with other kids. She came out of the EXPLORE introducing her new friend, Brianna, who I suspect was just being nice to the little kid (since she looked about 12), but made DD's day :). About the only college on her radar right now is the University of FL-and that's because one of the people on her snakes forum is a UF zoology professor who shares his photos and fieldwork notes on the board, and has given DD access to the resources he makes available online for his grad students---well, that and that she got a stuffed alligator in a UF cheerleading uniform as a present from her cousin last year.

 

 

Personally, I'm just hoping that she'll be able to get enough scholarship money to do what both DH and I did-get through college and grad school without student loan debt. And I don't think that Vet school students have the TA opportunities that grad students do.

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I don't have anything against gold stars, or grades, or competitions.... DS has always enjoyed competitions and enjoyed doing well at them. My take on it all is that as much fun as rewards are, that's not enough to sustain the effort in anything for long, unless you have real interest. DS has done really well in science competitions, for instance... but no matter how big the rewards are -- and they can get pretty substantial -- the effort required to get them is HUGE. Even if you won some of the top national awards, if you divided it up into an hourly rate for the work you put into it, you'd do about as well to get a minimum wage job. You really do have to want to do the work for the rewards of the work itself. You have to want to find out all the things you learn that way. You have to want to be the person who did all the work and discovered the things you wanted to discover. There's a certain pride of ownership.

 

That doesn't mean there's anything inherently wrong with the rewards. Rewards can be exciting, and recognition is satisfying in a way that appeals to a lot of people (myself included). But if that's all there is... it's not enough.

 

I think, though, that sometimes from the outside it looks like it's "just" about gold stars... which I find irritating. It's a not very subtle statement that you're incredibly shallow. And I bristle, too, at the implication that competition is about feeling superior to others. If you really thought you were better than your competition, winning against them wouldn't be meaningful at all. It has to be a challenge - you have to know that you're up against a strong showing from your peers who have as good a chance at winning as you do, and you have to know that sometimes (maybe even frequently) you put in a ton of work and come away with no awards to show for it... and that it's fine. You did your best, you learned a ton, and it was worth the effort.

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267824_10200234132368656_801545812_n.jpg

 

 

 

How is she ever going to do that in a group where a large percentage of the kids have parents who automatically click "Like" and "Share" on the above quote?

 

 

 

I am no fan of John Holt. But, to be fair, one has to read his book "How children learn" to understand his philosophy.

It is a thoughtful, well presented argument on his 'unschooling' philosophy.

"How children Fail" notsomuch. IMHO, it was anti-public schooling, anti-achievement, anti-competition.

 

 

My sympathies. I would keep quiet in a group that was driven by his "How children Fail" rather than "How children Learn".

 

ETA: The quote is from "How children Fail", his first book published in 1964. Apparently, later on his views on B&M schools did take a turn for the positive .

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How is she ever going to do that in a group where a large percentage of the kids have parents who automatically click "Like" and "Share" on the above quote?

 

Some people seems to feel the peer pressure to like a Facebook post just because their buddy or girlfriend like the same post. It's sometimes very much a herd instinct on Facebook groups.

 

Encouraging has a positive connotation, compelling tends to have a slightly negative one to me. However I don't agree with the quote since my boys are just competing with themselves on their areas of interest. Also as a child, getting the 'A' open lots of opportunities in school that I would otherwise be less likely to get.

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I like some of the things Holt wrote - it's very good to think about education in a radically different way than it is approached by the system that most of us grew up in. But I see so much of what he wrote being used and promoted in homeschooling circles where it's interpreted in one way only - and when it's used like that, it's become just more dogma.

 

I'm very much into "take what works for me and leave the rest". But some ideas become dividing lines in groups, where you are seen as being either on one side of the line or the other.

I was going to type a reply but this says exactly what I was going to say. I do like Holt and many of his ideas ring true for me as an educator, however, I bet many of the people who "liked" or "shared" that quote truly don't know what he was all about; they just "liked" it because he is so popular among many homeschooling groups right now.

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ETA - in the Flanagan article, she said approximately 35,000 kids apply for 1,640 spots at Harvard. My kid unicycles very well. One time a parent of older kids said - wow that's brilliant. That will stand out on a college application. Ummm ... ok. He loves it and chose it. Never crossed my mind. Sometimes what gets you in is what makes you different, not the same as all your peers. Nice short response article ...

http://theivycoach.c...ions-parenting/

 

 

Yes, but the unicycler who gets into Harvard or Stanford or other top school doesn't have so-so grades & test scores. Stellar grades and test scores are necessary, but not sufficient, to win acceptance for a student who is in the normal applicant pool.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a tiger dad. I hated it at the time (I would have completely sided with John Holt in my younger years) but I have grown to appreciate his tigerness. He moved away when my folks split up and my mom was not like my dad. My life and grades went downhill. Looking back, I wish my dad had stuck around. My life would have been different. One thing I wished my dad would have allowed was at least letting me stick with one extra curricular activity where I could have excelled in. Although I have no idea how to contact my dad now (He is somewhere in China) unless through crazy relatives, I just want to tell him thanks for making sure I got a superb education early on.

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I think this quote is not tied to your daughter's love of competition. It is about pushing our own agenda's on our children rather than letting them be themselves. Pushing for prestige alone. Your dd competes etc because she loves it. The quote is more about the damage being a tiger mom can be, not about kids loving to get A's or compete etc because that is in their nature.

 

I agree with this.

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I don't live is the US but are ivy league colleges really so great that it is worth dedicating your child's whole childhood to getting in to one. What if they die before they get there? Or because they don't make it? I always wished my parents pushed me more and were more involved - but not to that extreme.

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I agree with those who don't think that quote has anything to do with your daughter's competitions. I see it more as working for extrinsic awards shouldn't be the point of learning - it should be intrinsic awards. Since your daughter loves competitions, she is getting an intrinsic award. If the only thing she cares about was the trophy, and not the satisfaction of doing her best and not enjoying the competition part, then it would be totally different. I would have liked that quote too. I went through the public school system ONLY caring about my grades. I learned how to play the game well, but really didn't learn all that much in the end when it came to true knowledge.

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I agree with many here who see no reason to be worried about this sentiment or its popularity. It appears that Mr. Holt was writing for a quite different population from the one frequenting this forum, and scoring high on math competitions etc.. He was concerned about those children being failed by the education system and literally failing in it, the ones not scoring high. He was trying to reach a group of kids who are not accelerated, not even managing to keep up. Remember in any large group, even dedicated gifted home schoolers, there will only be a minority at the top of the scale. the others will have to deal with not being at the top somehow.

 

I myself sympathize both with Holt's quote and the benefit of giving stars. I say this because I myself was in an inadequate school environment and motivated almost exclusively by the trophies I won in contests, since school was so boring. Later in a good college I began to appreciate the higher motivation the quote discusses, but I am still grateful that some mechanism was used in high school to keep my interest and make achievement fun and challenging.

 

Ultimately the greater satisfaction will be felt from learning for its own and ones own sake, but as a child, competitions can be fun, especially for those who win! But we need to try to understand where those who do not win are coming from too. I recall sitting in the front row awaiting the announcement of the winner of a math contest in high school next to my main rival. When neither of our names had been called up through second prize obviously only one of us was going to get a prize. I assumed it might well be he and readied myself to congratulate him.

 

When it was my name called I thus noticed that he did not congratulate me but stared into his lap. Later some of our mutual friends suggested to me that he had worked so hard while I seemed not to, that it was not fair that he had not won. I did not feel any sympathy for him then but I can now. (He later greatly surpassed me in college, but I eventually learned to work harder too and ultimately found my own niche.) I admit it did take me a while, after I stopped being the winner, to acquire real appreciation for learning.

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