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The DeVos tweet about what classrooms look like--is making me question myself

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Have you seen this?  DeVos posted a stock image of a classroom and wrote: "Does this look familiar? Students lined up in rows. A teacher in front of a blackboard. Sit down; don’t talk; eyes up front. Wait for the bell. Walk to the next class. Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era. But American education largely hasn’t"  

 

And teachers all over responded with lots of photos of their classrooms in pods, in stations, on the floor, in groups, on trips, doing a ton of activities.  There are a lot of pictures out there, here's one set

 

I'll be honest here.  The "American Education is based on the industrial revolution model" is something I hear a lot about in homeschool circles.  But it didn't reflect the reality I saw in  my kids public school. The classroom was an awesome learning environment.  Lots of opportunities for exploration and things to fiddle with and stations to try. Admittedly we only got to 2nd grade, when my special needs kid couldn't take it anymore.  Socially and emotionally, she was challenged. But the kids were happy and engaged.  There were many good experiences....seeing the images is pulling my heartstrings, and making me question myself and my choice to homeschooling. Especially my nuerotypical kid.  

 

We do OK.  We are in a coop, we get out of the house on a lot of trips, we hit the library 2x a week, we aren't struggling. But there isn't a consistent peer learning environment and I can't offer the resources a classroom has.

 

I don't know what kind of reply I'm looking for.  I know there are a lot of dead-set-for-life homeschoolers here, and that's just not me, I'm more looking for people who think: either way is a trade off, and it's not easy. How do you reconcile it ?

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I think it depends on the teacher. I recently went to Parent/Teacher conferences for my kids. My 7th grader has classes in some very traditional rooms. But, her literacy teacher has the best room. I seriously wanted to stay there and read. She has couches, low light, comforting music, and essential oils. My ideal reading environment!

 

She also picks a great variety of books.

 

ETA: How do I reconcile it? Personally, I think both are fine, at least in our area. Part of our reason to HS was to get more time with our young kids. Educatinally I think both choices are equal.

 

Kelly

Edited by SquirrellyMama
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One of her teachers with a very traditional room said that the literacy teacher had been a lower elementary teacher before this year. She commented that students in EL Ed usually get more instruction in classroom set-up.

 

Kelly

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I think what you are seeing has a very Pinterest/Instagram fake feel to it that doesn't account for all of the other trade-offs. At least where I live. What the pictures aren't showing are: Testing. One recess if you're lucky at most public schools. PE twice a week. No music, little art........cute little stations don't make up for that for me. What difference to they make if they only have 10 minutes to use them, particularly with the way they do block scheduling here. You don't even have your classes each day necessarily. K'ers are taking keyboarding classes instead of art. Just no. 

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My son had a good giggle over that stock photo.

 

Let's just say her belief doesn't reflect his public school reality in any way. :)

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<snip>

 

I don't know what kind of reply I'm looking for.  I know there are a lot of dead-set-for-life homeschoolers here, and that's just not me, I'm more looking for people who think: either way is a trade off, and it's not easy. How do you reconcile it ?

 

I reconcile it by remembering exactly what you said - either way it's a trade off. No teacher/parent/student can do it all. There are too many important, interesting, fun things to do and learn, and everybody is going to miss things. 

 

I am not anti-ps at all (admittedly, that's easy to say because I live in a great district). I'm trying to do the best I can for each kid, and right now I think that's hs. If we decide on ps at some point, I know part of me will be sad, but not because I think the local ps only churns out automatons from a conveyor belt. 

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I hadn't seen that tweet. I can say that I haven't seen a classroom in the district where I live like that since the late 80s and they were moving from that model then.

 

For you: decide what fits your child and family best. There are good opportunities in some school districts. But even if a district or individual school is good overall that does not mean it meets the needs of every child. Don't beat yourself up or second guess yourself. Make the best decision you can with the information you have and proceed with no regrets.

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My DS13’s kindergarten classroom was nice as the district could afford 20 kids to a class. There were 120 kids in kindergarten so 6 classrooms and a fenced yard just for them. When he was in 1st grade, it was the recession year and the district puts 30 kids to a class for k-2nd grade, more for 3rd to 8th grade. Teachers were retrenched since they only need 4 teachers per grade instead of 6 for k-2nd. Kids were in classrooms as DeVos described because how else to squeeze 30 kids into a classroom designed for 20 kids. No more reading corner, play corner or whatever corner. Most usable space were filled with desks and chairs all the way to near the two entrances to the classroom.

 

So school classrooms is also something that varies by location. My kids have their Saturday German class at a public school in another district. The school is very old and the classrooms were designed to host at least 35 kids per room. It is much more spacious there.

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All the classrooms I attended had the teacher up front/rows of seats setup. Stations were for classes like art and home ec. Beyond preschool here the setup is similar, DeVos is right when it comes to this district, at least in middle and high school.

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I've had kids in 2 different public schools; one a Waldorf charter and one just a regular neighborhood school.

 

Both could have provided photos of the kids not sitting in rows.  The Waldorf charter had a school garden and chickens and knitting time.  The PS had circle time and stations and a library.

 

But for both of them, a kid who was not the target of the school's philosophy or was out of the norm was pretty much SOL.  We tried school twice because I have really great memories of school (largely sitting in rows, which I liked).  What I don't like about schools these days is not the sitting in rows aspect - I don't care how the desks are arranged.  

 

And we definitely give up things when homeschooling - regular peer interaction, the chickens at the Waldorf, and lunch period at the neighborhood school. 

 

But what we get in return is instruction targeted toward our kids' interests and abilities, freedom (both physical and mental), and a lack of stigma for being non-average.

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There will always be trade offs.  I agonized for an entire school year over my decision to bring my kids home.  And it was the trade offs that I was agonizing over.  I made my decision knowing full well what the trade offs were.....and knowing that as we get older, those will change and at that point, we will change too.  I know my kids will be going back to public school at some point. 

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I think what you are seeing has a very Pinterest/Instagram fake feel to it that doesn't account for all of the other trade-offs. At least where I live. What the pictures aren't showing are: Testing. One recess if you're lucky at most public schools. PE twice a week. No music, little art........cute little stations don't make up for that for me. What difference to they make if they only have 10 minutes to use them, particularly with the way they do block scheduling here. You don't even have your classes each day necessarily. K'ers are taking keyboarding classes instead of art. Just no. 

 

 

Quoting myself to explain, what I'm getting at is nothing in those pictures were missing at our PS and we still left, because that's not what it was about for us. We had tech. We had "cutting edge classrooms." We had young teachers, who thought they were the epitome of awesome inspiration and older teachers with experience. We had "the picture perfect district" and I'll tell you, it was really ugly under the Instagram Perfect appearance. I guess you need to decide if those are the bells and whistles that matter to you, and what the things you see in those teacher's photos actually get you, then decide what's worth it and what puts your children in the best position in the long haul. For some it's going to be PS, some private, and some homeschool. But I don't think you should let a picture make you feel inferior. 

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No amount of posters on the walls and permission to lie on the floor changes the fact that the lessons my daughter is provided with are between one and six years below her ability level. 

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I am not even sure what kind of point she wants to make.

because honestly: sitting in circles on carpets in classrooms cluttered with distracting colorful posters on every square inch is overrated and not a measure of the quality of education. I have not seen evidence that all this stuff produces better results.

Sitting in rows of desks in classrooms that are sparsely decorated, but being taught by teachers who have actual subject expertise can produce a wonderful education. To get a stellar education you need a blackboard, paper and pencil, and an inspiring, competent teacher.

 

Edited by regentrude
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You try to find the best path for each child and there is no crystal ball so there is no way to know what that path should look like.   If homeschooling is working well, then fantastic.  Do that, if that is what works for you and your family...and your individual child/ren.  If brick and mortar is working well, then fantastic.  Do that, if that is what works for you and your family...and your individual child/ren.

 

And then there is the inbetween.  Maybe homeschooling isn't fantastic.  Maybe it seems only mediocre.  If a brick and mortar school might work better for a particular child/family, then try it out.  No shame in trying something else.  Maybe that particular school/teacher is a better fit for that particular child.  Or maybe brick and mortar is only mediocre.  Try homeschooling.  No shame in trying something else.  Maybe that particular child will do better with homeschooling.  

 

And maybe things aren't actually work well at all with one of those options but the other option turns out to be even worse.  Well, that's an even harder position to be in, but picking the lesser of two evils can actually end up being not so bad in the long run.  It may seem a lot worse in the moment than it actually is.

 

FWIW, I substitute taught in classes locally.  Some classes were more engaging.  Most were absolutely of the Industrial Era model.  And sometimes the Industrial Era model worked well because of a great instructor or just a lot of kids that fit well with that type of learning.  And sometimes it didn't.  Sometimes bells and whistles looked good from the outside but were actually really, really poorly implemented. And it could be really hard to determine that from the outside looking in. 

 

Actually being in the classroom it became much more apparent which classes did more engaging things and which were mainly worksheets and lectures at the front of the classroom and which had great teachers, regardless of bells and whistles and which had pretty poor teachers.   And which schools were so wrapped up in standardized testing that they had lost sight of learning.  And which had found a good balance. 

 

Different schools, different teachers and different grade levels are going to provide different things.  Without actually SEEING the day to day functionality of any given classroom, or getting solid feedback from multiple others who have, it is impossible to know for sure what is really happening in that classroom.

 

DD limped along in a brick and mortar through 5th grade.  In many ways I think it was helpful to her.  She actually had some amazing experiences that I am happy she had.  She met some amazing teachers, forged some really nice friendships, and learned a lot.  She also had some really tough experiences, some really lousy teachers and ended up having to defend others against bullying.  The school also failed her repeatedly in teaching her basic critical skills, such as reading and math.  Homeschooling has allowed her to thrive in ways that brick and mortar never did.  I wish we had started homeschooling her sooner. 

 

DS?  Brick and mortar was an awesome fit.  He thrived.  He loved it.  I would not change those early years for anything.  I am so glad we put him in school.  And then it all fell apart.  If I could have known how bad 2nd grade would be I would have pulled him long before we did.  Now?  We limp along in homeschooling but he just does not thrive in this environment.  If I had a better option for a brick and mortar I would put him back in a heartbeat.  His mental health has suffered in taking the homeschooling path.  It just wasn't meant for him.  But putting him back in the brick and mortar options we have here would be even worse.  So we do what we can.

 

I guess my bottom line here is do what is best for your child with whatever resources you have available, accept that no path is perfect, and be willing to explore the possibility of more than one option when things don't seem to be working out as planned.  

 

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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All the classrooms I attended had the teacher up front/rows of seats setup. Stations were for classes like art and home ec. Beyond preschool here the setup is similar, DeVos is right when it comes to this district, at least in middle and high school.

Same , my classrooms were like that .....but that was **decades** ago. It doesn’t at all. reflect what I’ve seen in classrooms today . But I do live in a state that makes education a priority (MA).

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I think the Waldorf school made education a priority too - (it was a charter, which I think DeVos even likes, and I support as well) - but what they meant by education and what my children needed from education were two different things.

 

The same was true of the neighborhood school - it's not like it costs extra money (are you saying that MA values education because it spends more money on it?  I don't know the stats) to put kids in pods instead of rows, or to have the teacher do this or that interactive project instead of worksheets, or whatever.

 

They were trying to educate according to what they thought education meant, or how it was best delivered to their student population.

 

 I just disagreed with regard to my kids.

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I think a lot of that "classroom stuff" is actually pretty pointless. Having a "literacy center" isn't any better than having a comfy bed at home to curl up in with a book. Measuring some colored water with a beaker isn't better than measuring milk in a measuring cup while making pancakes. Having a bunch of posters on the wall doesn't equal an education. I think so much of it is mimicking real life, but in homeschooling we are living real life. 

 

 

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Oh, and I actually think there was more benefit to the "old school" method than people realize. It actually worked pretty darned well, often better than the "new" stuff. 

 

Maybe read Why Don't Students Like School for some inspiration for your own homeschool? It goes into why some of the "fun" "exciting" stuff in the classrooms is less productive and really, less fun, than we think. 

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My son is in highschool. None of the rooms are rows of desks. Mostly tables where 4 students sit together. There are no bells. They have an amazing array of lab spaces and there’s flex work spaces dispersed via the school with walls made of whiteboards.

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Poppy, my SIL is a 5th grade teacher and she shares a lot of pics with me. Oh my goodness, what an amazing environment she’s created, and they do a ton of work beyond their grade level, they do activities that make my heart pound, and make me think, “oh, to have a teacher like that!†In fact, just today she shared pi day pics that were so rich in fun and meaning, I was green with envy for a few moments. The last pic was of her, getting her annual pie in the face. :D

 

I reconcile it by thinking of the trade offs. Sure, there are great schools (and I have not seen desks in rows, in, well, at least 25 years), and there are wonderful opportunities in schools. Then again, the same goes for homeschool. The trade off to b and m school, for our family, wouldn’t be worth it. We can’t do everything that a b and m school does, but we can do a lot of it, through activities. And as my kid has gotten older, I see the benefit of his having time to follow his interests. Wow, the projects! I know he wouldn’t have the time for those with b and m school. I think he’s getting the best of both worlds here.

 

If that changes, we will change.

 

But I do get it, those moments when you see these amazing classrooms and second guess. :)

 

Actually, though, even my amazing teacher SIL has said she would love to homeschool. :)

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I am not even sure what kind of point she wants to make.

because honestly: sitting in circles on carpets in classrooms cluttered with distracting colorful posters on every square inch is overrated and not a measure of the quality of education. I have not seen evidence that all this stuff produces better results.

Sitting in rows of desks in classrooms that are sparsely decorated, but being taught by teachers who have actual subject expertise can produce a wonderful education. To get a stellar education you need a blackboard, paper and pencil, and an inspiring, competent teacher.

 

AMEN!!!!!!

 

I'm so sick of them throwing money at smart boards and computers and iPads and whatever when what they need to spend money on is TEACHERS. That's what matters. A good teacher can teach the basics with paper and pencils. Kindergarteners don't need IPADs to learn. 

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Every picture I've seen recently the desks are grouped in pods, like you said.  Every news story featuring schools they also show desks grouped together and classrooms filled with stuff.   I haven't been inside a classroom myself lately so I have no idea.  Every time I see the grouped thing though I shudder and count my lucky start I didn't endure that.  Not my thing.  Give me uncluttered classrooms and lined up desks! 

Edited by SparklyUnicorn
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In a lovely suburban school it caan be quitee niice. In an urban, underfunded school it isn't so pretty. An underfunded rural district has another set of issues. Much also depends on the teacher. Posting a stock photo was a bad idea. In her position I'd say the less Twitter the better. Her devisiveness won't benefit from too much social media.

 

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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Every picture I've seen recently the desks are grouped in pods, like you said.  Every news story featuring schools they also show desks grouped together and classrooms filled with stuff.   I haven't been inside a classroom myself lately so I have no idea.  Every time I see the grouped thing though I shudder and count my lucky start I didn't endure that.  Not my thing.  Give me uncluttered classrooms and lined up desks! 

 

This. I wonder how kids stay focused with all those distractions. And it's not just the classrooms, but also the textbooks that are overloaded with colorful boxes and sidebars and unnecessary photographs and more boxes, with the text being chopped up into soundbites.

All this reduces kids' attention spans.

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I think I spent more decorating my 2nd grade inner-city classroom than I did on my first apartment. I bought beanbag chairs, bookshelves, books, baskets, lighting, art supplies.... I think it is sad that it is left to the teachers to spend her own money to create a nurturing environment. 

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Every picture I've seen recently the desks are grouped in pods, like you said.  Every news story featuring schools they also show desks grouped together and classrooms filled with stuff.   I haven't been inside a classroom myself lately so I have no idea.  Every time I see the grouped thing though I shudder and count my lucky start I didn't endure that.  Not my thing.  Give me uncluttered classrooms and lined up desks! 

 

Yup. It's incredibly distracting for kids (gee, and they are diagnosing more ADHD?) to be facing another kid when they are supposed to be doing math. Not to mention closer together in many situations means more touching and annoying and bullying My son got bitten by a girl sitting next to him in a group desk situation. In 1st grade. AFTER I'd asked to have his seat moved due to constant issues, and been denied. 

 

I do think seats being comfortable can matter, and lighting that is more comfortable on the eyes helps. But all the rest is dressing up a pig. 

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My oldest went to a wonderful elementary school and a wonderful middle school in terms of high achieving kids and decent teachers (with a few standouts). Most of the rooms were colorful, the elementary school had two recesses, once a month science lab, etc. It was a fun, safe, and friendly school system with no bullying. The trade offs were teachers that coasted due to the majority of the kids being high achievers, never differentiating, science labs weren't deep at all and were parent led, and the class sizes. Oh the class sizes! My oldest daughter was in a prealgebra class of 42 kids. They couldn't fit in the desks. It was sad. Extreme strict classroom management due to kindergarten class size of 28 and 3rd grade of 35. The teachers HAD to run a very tight ship. It was intimidating. And a trade off. Lots of goods and bads with each choice.

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I have thought the same things. We also have many good friends at a very good small classical private school that is literally 5 minutes from our house. We could swing the tuition, especially if I wasn’t homeschooling and worked more. There are times when I hear about the things they do and question why we have chosen not to be part of what is by all accounts an amazing school and community. 

 

The way I have reconciled it is to say to myself that we choose TO homeschool. It’s not that we are choosing NOT to go to school elsewhere. There are lots of good things we can’t do...in either the private school or public school. And lots of good things that we do that they can’t do. Any choice is going to come with a tradeoff. That’s true of other things in parenting other than homeschooling.

 

We like what we’re doing and my kids are thriving. And I’m open to other options if they end up wanting to do that. But right now this works for us. 

 

 

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Have you seen this?  DeVos posted a stock image of a classroom and wrote: "Does this look familiar? Students lined up in rows. A teacher in front of a blackboard. Sit down; don’t talk; eyes up front. Wait for the bell. Walk to the next class. Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era. But American education largely hasn’t"  

 

And teachers all over responded with lots of photos of their classrooms in pods, in stations, on the floor, in groups, on trips, doing a ton of activities.  There are a lot of pictures out there, here's one set

 

I'll be honest here.  The "American Education is based on the industrial revolution model" is something I hear a lot about in homeschool circles.  But it didn't reflect the reality I saw in  my kids public school. The classroom was an awesome learning environment.  Lots of opportunities for exploration and things to fiddle with and stations to try. Admittedly we only got to 2nd grade, when my special needs kid couldn't take it anymore.  Socially and emotionally, she was challenged. But the kids were happy and engaged.  There were many good experiences....seeing the images is pulling my heartstrings, and making me question myself and my choice to homeschooling. Especially my nuerotypical kid.  

 

We do OK.  We are in a coop, we get out of the house on a lot of trips, we hit the library 2x a week, we aren't struggling. But there isn't a consistent peer learning environment and I can't offer the resources a classroom has.

 

I don't know what kind of reply I'm looking for.  I know there are a lot of dead-set-for-life homeschoolers here, and that's just not me, I'm more looking for people who think: either way is a trade off, and it's not easy. How do you reconcile it ?

 

I ask myself: Are my kids happy being homeschooled? Are they getting the education I want for them? Am I happy homeschooling them? Am I treating them as individuals and filling their needs?

 

Often what I think they need socially is not what they want or need. They are more happy playing by themselves in their room just like dh and I did when we were little than being dragged all over town. That's how they are and I don't want them to think they have to change it. 

 

It's easy to think the other side has it better, but there are a lot of downsides, too. No one side is perfect. It sounds like you try to blend as much as you can, but you'd like more. 

 

I know enough teachers to be able to decide for myself that the downside where I live, is totally not worth it. They may miss out on the really inspiring teachers, but that's ok. I'm their inspiring teacher. I know them better than any teacher they had for 1 year could possibly know them. I can adjust to fit their needs and follow their interests much more flexibly than the best teacher in our awful school district. 

 

We've all had fantastic engaging teachers, mean overly-strict teachers and dialing it in teachers. We've all been those types, too. At least I have. I can be engaging and passionate when it's a topic I love. Sometimes the kids need overly-strict, highly structured schedules to get past puberty or a particularly difficult time and sometimes I'm tired or sick and I have to dial it in to scale it all back until we get through it. 

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Yup. It's incredibly distracting for kids (gee, and they are diagnosing more ADHD?) to be facing another kid when they are supposed to be doing math. Not to mention closer together in many situations means more touching and annoying and bullying My son got bitten by a girl sitting next to him in a group desk situation. In 1st grade. AFTER I'd asked to have his seat moved due to constant issues, and been denied. 

 

I do think seats being comfortable can matter, and lighting that is more comfortable on the eyes helps. But all the rest is dressing up a pig. 

 

Yeah once in awhile if we were grouped for something, nothing got done.  Literally nothing.  I dreaded it.

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My kids have been in and out of public schools.

 

Honestly, the classrooms haven't looked like that at all, except for in middle school.  

 

Still, I don't think it matters.

 

Pay the teachers well.  Make it a respected career that can attract the best.  Give them respect.  Follow the best practices of other countries--best practices that ironically they often took from US educators' ideas.  Work on child poverty, as that affect classroom learning significantly.    

 

Change the funding model.... either do what Kentucky did and change to a state-wide model or even go federal.  Every single school gets the same.  Maybe even make teachers federal government employees or some sort of hybrid State-Federal employee.  

 

Here, teachers can easily earn under $40k.   When we lived in NY, DS1's Pre-K (public) teacher earned close to $100k.  Granted she was a remarkable teacher with years of experience...but still...there are vast differences around the country in terms of teacher salaries, starting pay, etc.  

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DS22 went to public school through 4th grade, and DS19 went through first grade. All their classrooms were very colorful, visually "busy" rooms. No desks lined up in rows.

 

Their rooms about drove me bonkers. There was SO much going on visually it was almost overwhelming to me, and made it very difficult for me to concentrate. I was in their classrooms often (class mom for most of their school years). I enjoyed volunteering and the kids but I kept a headache, mostly from all the visual clutter. Somehow I very much doubt that the average classroom has gotten any less "busy" or more austere since then.

 

I don't think classrooms matter all that much, but I do wonder if most students might benefit from more formal and less stimulating rooms.

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If more of my classmates had followed "sit down, don't talk, eyes up front", my educational experience would have been much more enjoyable.

 

I have a very low tolerance for visual clutter.  We do put maps and timelines up at home, but I try to keep it to a minimum (although I let them put up their own drawings pretty much anywhere that's not distracting).  I'd be an awful classroom teacher, refusing to do door decorations and going for an IKEA minimalist look.  For kindergarten.   :lol:

 

Also... ugh, desk pods.  Although I did like the two-person tables we had in high school science classes.  My kids use those for library classes and it seems to be the perfect balance between collaboration and paying attention.

Edited by BarbecueMom
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Have you seen this? DeVos posted a stock image of a classroom and wrote: "Does this look familiar? Students lined up in rows. A teacher in front of a blackboard. Sit down; don’t talk; eyes up front. Wait for the bell. Walk to the next class. Everything about our lives has moved beyond the industrial era. But American education largely hasn’t"

 

And teachers all over responded with lots of photos of their classrooms in pods, in stations, on the floor, in groups, on trips, doing a ton of activities. There are a lot of pictures out there, here's one set

 

I'll be honest here. The "American Education is based on the industrial revolution model" is something I hear a lot about in homeschool circles. But it didn't reflect the reality I saw in my kids public school. The classroom was an awesome learning environment. Lots of opportunities for exploration and things to fiddle with and stations to try. Admittedly we only got to 2nd grade, when my special needs kid couldn't take it anymore. Socially and emotionally, she was challenged. But the kids were happy and engaged. There were many good experiences....seeing the images is pulling my heartstrings, and making me question myself and my choice to homeschooling. Especially my nuerotypical kid.

 

We do OK. We are in a coop, we get out of the house on a lot of trips, we hit the library 2x a week, we aren't struggling. But there isn't a consistent peer learning environment and I can't offer the resources a classroom has.

 

I don't know what kind of reply I'm looking for. I know there are a lot of dead-set-for-life homeschoolers here, and that's just not me, I'm more looking for people who think: either way is a trade off, and it's not easy. How do you reconcile it ?

Yeah I honestly think some homeschools are more like traditional classrooms than some school classes. To be honest though that's one of the strong points for homeschool to me. Kids that thrive on desks and structured activities can have that model and kids that need motion and movement and variety can do it that way. Some of the more modern classrooms would have made it hard for me to learn as I never do well in a chaotic or noisy environment. We also have the suggestions from Singapore where the classrooms are very plain and uncluttered.

 

I don't think the style of classroom is key it's what happens inside it.

 

Also as far as school versus homeschool for me now the best answer to that is year by year - right now at this point in time this feels like the best solution for me and my children.

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The DeVos thing was, indeed, silly. She is coming from the same conception as many homeschoolers that public education is still kids in rows of desks with raised hands. I'm sure that's the reality in some places but the teachers are right that that's not the norm anymore.

 

But there's drawbacks to the new norms too. From what I can see, there's a lot of empty tech time. Time when kids or teachers are spending a lot of effort to get tech to work or start or mesh or whatever. There's a lot of group project time - some of that is good, but some of it is bad. There's not a lot of solid content being taught, especially in the early grades. It's a lot more "thinking skills". I second what someone mentioned about about Why Students Don't Like School on that one. I also see a lot of showy work that doesn't have much behind it. One of the huge things when I finally left the classroom was that I was the only teacher who refused to do "Powerpoint presentations" as this massive skill and assignment. There's something to it, but it's also... it mostly looks good more than it actually asks kids to do anything deeper, but teachers use it instead of more serious writing assignments now - not just in addition, but instead. And those kids in those classrooms are still experiencing the same homework burden and the same overzealous standardized testing regimen that we all know is not good.

 

There's good stuff going on in classrooms too... I know I'll get slammed on this, but there's some good group work stuff going on in classrooms, especially with math and engineering and problem based learning. There are some good things with rigor in top end schools too. And much better foreign language education in a lot of schools.. there's good for sure. I just see that there are downsides to the supposedly "good" new setups.

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Our homeschool classroom looks like it has time traveled from the mid century modern era. My kids can think in there. Of course, this is also a home, so they can read in a rocking chair, sprawled out on bed or floor, on the porch, or up a tree. They are not chained to desks or to group projects, either one.

 

Anytime I start to wonder about my homeschooling choice, I Google images of chaotic and overstimulating schoolrooms of today, which make our entire ADD family very twitchy. And I read articles about the not-so-great outcomes of iPads (in lieu of textbooks) and project based learning! Our local schools are all in, for those methods, but do not adequately teach the lessons (or even subjects) that I want my children to learn.

 

Also, I may not have a smartboard, but I've had 100% of my graduates, so far, accepted to good universities with full merit scholarships, after a happy, healthy childhood...that would not have been their story in either sense, had they attended our local public schools.

 

Substance over style, results over promises, children who are thriving...don't desire glitter over gold.

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That's how my public schooled high schooler's classes are set up, except they have tables and they are overcrowded.  :glare:

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I personally don't like the newer classroom setups. They seem chaotic and overstimulating and distracting. I grew up in the desks-in-rows era. I really don't remember the desks being uncomfortable, or that setup causing classes to not be engaging (I had both good teachers and bad/boring teachers in that setup). The pods where everybody sees what everybody else is doing would distract me even now. And all the stuff on the walls makes me unsettled. And yes, the textbooks are so cluttered; you can't read more than a paragraph or two without being drawn to lose your focus with the sidebars or diagrams. It's hard to concentrate on the meat of the material. I don't want to be an old fogey, but I think simpler was better.

 

I was just talking to my adult dd about our youngest 2 ds, and how the Hive's saying, "You teach the child you have," has been so helpful to me with them. Homeschooling has not looked how I wanted it to look with them. One ds is very happy using a straightforward, no-frills plan for his core classes (for high school), and adding lots of exploration in Master Class and other areas for his special interests. The other ds started ps this year, and is much happier. I didn't want it to be that way. I wanted him to be happy at home. But he wasn't, and I couldn't seem to make him that way. He is engaged in ways I couldn't engage him, and it seems to be a good fit. I'm so glad it is working out for him, but I feel sad sometimes, and a bit of a failure sometimes, that I couldn't make it work at home. On the other side, it's a relief in some ways, because I didn't know what else to try, and now it is out of my hands.

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I know how you feel. These fun collaborative environments where the kids actively engage in learning seem to appealing. Bright friendly classrooms and teachers who care so much, work so hard. How can I compete with that in the dead of winter when we are just SO over everything we're doing? Especially for my youngest who will be an only child learner and an extrovert.

 

I haven't experienced public school for elementary students. I put my kids in PS in 8th grade. And it's mostly been a good experience. It's tempting to think of sending my little one to kindergarten in 2019. She's so social. She's friendly and happy and cooperative. She's curious and bright. She'd probably be a good fit in the class room so long as no one was mean to her (she can be sensitive).

 

But then I kind of cringe at thinking of her whole education pointed towards a standardized test. No matter how much the teacher tries to dress up the learning that they're doing, the pressure they will be under to make these kids pass tests means that the underlying purpose of their education is to pass the test. I knew this on some level when I sent my kids to school, but I was still shocked at how much time was spent (wasted) on testing in 8th grade. Experiencing it first hand was different. My middle child is doing very well in public school, but even so, I know I could be offering her a better education at home. She's where she wants to be but I kinda wish she wanted to be at home.

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Depending on the school district, one can have either situation in my state.

 

I'm right there with Tibbie:  the humanity of our home school was ever so much better than what could be had anywhere else, and the flexibility it offered was irreplaceable. Furthermore, homeschooling taught my kids so much more than just academics.  I have two who excelled academically, but even my non-academic kid has a strong sense of his own personhood, something that would have been much harder for him to achieve in a school setting which would have revolved entirely around his peer group.  I'm convinced the always-on peer group would have been detrimental to his development.

 

Decide what's most important to you, and pursue that. 

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I don't consider myself a die-hard homeschooler - I actually think that at the right age, it's better to have some group, outside of the family academic time.

 

I think many teachers in ps do want something other than factory model schooling, and they are successful sometimes at creating that, to a certain extent.

 

I think though that in many cases, the effect is pretty superficial, because the underlying structures of the school and system just don't really allow for what is necessary.  

 

Really, desk arrangement is much less important than what is going on, the number of kids, the vision of what it means to be educated.  If those are right, desks in a row really should not be a problem.

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Rows are really pretty functional, if you need the kids to all be able to look at a board or the teacher, and you want to be able to stand next to each student to help them.  And it gives each kid the most privacy about their work.

 

There are downsides to pods, even though they are probably best for a lot of group work.  But kids have to twist around to look at the teacher and always face some other person.

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Same , my classrooms were like that .....but that was **decades** ago. It doesn’t at all. reflect what I’ve seen in classrooms today . But I do live in a state that makes education a priority (MA).

Yeah, mine was mostly in the 90’s and early 2000’s. But my mom still works in that district and it hasn’t appreciably changed. This was in California. And I had mostly really good teachers too, but the model was what it was and it wasn’t a good fit for gifted or delayed kiddos. Both sides of the bell curve didn’t fit well.

Edited by Arctic Mama

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My kids started off in public school and had all of the latest and greatest classroom formations, but the actual teaching and level of learning was dismal. That is why we home school, among other reasons.

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My classrooms when I was a kid had the rows of desks, no centers past kindergarten, etc. But I had teachers that differentiated instruction, small classes usually, etc. I was advanced as far as reading so they went and borrowed readers from another grade and put them on a shelf for me to access when the rest of the class was reading the grade level book. There was a group of 5 kids that were advanced in math who got different assignments as well. (and this is on top of grouping into three different classes for different levels of reading and math, plus a gifted pull out once a week where we learned logic, engineering, studied plays and attended operas).

 

My son's classroom had the stupid pods and yet there was no ability to differentiate instruction, almost no classroom discipline, and he was bored to tears and being assaulted. Same town, by the way. 

 

 

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I don't know what kind of reply I'm looking for.  I know there are a lot of dead-set-for-life homeschoolers here, and that's just not me, I'm more looking for people who think: either way is a trade off, and it's not easy. How do you reconcile it ?

 

I haven't read all the rest of the replies, so I will just answer from my gut.  I live in an area where I really respect the schools here.  The community is small, the superintendent is caring and puts herself out there as part of the hub, the teachers are passionate.

 

BUT

 

I know in my heart that what I am providing at home is better than what the school is providing.  Full stop.  I have no religious conviction for homeschooling, so that's not a concern.  I don't buy into "a page a day is enough" or "it's okay you haven't done much school this year, they'll catch up."  That's not even close to what I believe.  I think every day a child is pushed to the side, that's more than them not learning.  That's learning that education isn't important.  It's learning that it's something you do...when you have time.

Now, I don't care what philosophy a parent subscribes to, but I do think that a teacher should be intentional.  Whether it's child led education, classical, delayed academics...that should be intentional, not accidental, and if I find myself in a position where we are accidentally bumbling around, my school isn't the best place for my child to learn.  By believing in what we do whole-heartedly, I can assess it better and see the strengths and weaknesses.

 

We have a fantastic high school here - several of them.  I would not dismiss my child going to one of them if he chooses or it provides more than we can, and it very well might.

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Yup. It's incredibly distracting for kids (gee, and they are diagnosing more ADHD?) to be facing another kid when they are supposed to be doing math. Not to mention closer together in many situations means more touching and annoying and bullying My son got bitten by a girl sitting next to him in a group desk situation. In 1st grade. AFTER I'd asked to have his seat moved due to constant issues, and been denied. 

 

I do think seats being comfortable can matter, and lighting that is more comfortable on the eyes helps. But all the rest is dressing up a pig. 

 

I can't agree.  Classrooms in rows, board up front is great for traditional learners-- like me!! My daughter does have ADHD (among other things) and the visual "clutter" is very appealing to her, because she leap from one high-interest item to another and can experiment with a couple ideas in tandum.    Even at home, she prefers learning form "strewing'. She wants me to give her a lot of books, programs, documentaries, games etc.  so she can figure it out herself, put together her ideas and then explain to me what she's learned.

 

I think that's the challenge for  me, I can't complete with a well put together age appropriate classroom.  I do set up experiements, and get a couple dozen library books and all that. I DO think it's better for her to be here, rather than being teased or excluded  because she socially cannot keep up.   I would give so much money for a fully equipped school with an unschooling philosophy. 

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