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Question for those who have homeschooled for several years who have put kids in school


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If you have homeschooled for a long time and eventually put one or more kids in school, I have a question.

Does it seem to you that you are able to identify specific problems in the schools or classes your children attend that no one else, including other parents and school employees, can even see?  Do you feel that your "outsider" status makes you better able to understand what is truly going on?

 

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Hmm... I don’t know if it is unique to my perspective as a homeschooler, as an educator, or as an analytic thinker, but I can see some things that the schools do that are problematic.  For example,  my dd who did half day K this year was at the computer lab *every day* doing stupid activities on the computer based learning program the school bought into - they are only there half a day and you plop them in front of a screen! My 5th grader was teaching all the other kids the math because no one understood the teacher’s instructions and answers to questions (they use GoMath which is district wide adopted and it has a bunch of CC style “explain why you did this” crap in it, and the teachers are not trained well enough in the math to teach it well - dd 5th grade had a background in RS, Singapore, and BA so she understands the math well). The writing instruction in 5th is terrible! They teach output/quantity and opinions (no backed by cogent reasoning, really they would better be called feelings than opinions) are what are important, and don’t touch on grammar, mechanics, and quality of writing (or organization, or stylistic techniques).

At the same time I see things the school pulls off well, like the 5th geaders’ Great Americans program  where 90+ kids had singing, speaking, musical numbers, costumes, etc and they (teachers) did an amazing job!

What kind of things are you seeing?

(background: we just finished our 8th year of homeschooling and this year I had 1 FT public, one half day K, and one half day early college program/half home, and one fully home)

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13 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Yes, and maybe. The dynamics are completely different. 

We’ve been part of three school districts now. “Public school” isn’t some uniform thing.

I'm talking about your/your child's specific situation, not schools in general.

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9 minutes ago, Targhee said:

What kind of things are you seeing?

Things like specifically what is wrong with my son's math teacher beyond just being a "bad" teacher to "avoid."  Or how the K-12 curriculum sequence has major holes or oversights.  Or how the books being assigned to high school students couldn't possibly be understood because they are written with a middle aged audience in mind (about the nuances of adult sibling relationships, for example).

It makes me think that the schools will never improve because most people have either drunk the kool aid and/or have no idea what to look for beyond a general feeling of something not being right.

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42 minutes ago, EKS said:

I'm talking about your/your child's specific situation, not schools in general.

Right, but my point is that my child’s  School B ( which is 70% bilingual—but almost all Spanish speakers) that she attended this fall  has very different issues than school C which she moved to this spring (30-40% bilingual, but 26 different languages spoken in the classroom and a much more dynamic student population—tons of moveins and outs). Do I have some insight into some issues, yes. I don’t feel fully qualified to evaluate all of them though...especially as someone coming from the preferred instruction language even though I am trilingual and have lived abroad.

I do think I look at methodology and instructional materials choices with a more critical eye than most. I also look at interventional strategies for struggling learners from a different perspective.

I just don’t think it’s fair for me to say that I understand everything either—hence my point that schools are complex structures with a lot of internal and external challenges some of which I think I am still trying to come to grips with.

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53 minutes ago, EKS said:

Things like specifically what is wrong with my son's math teacher beyond just being a "bad" teacher to "avoid."  Or how the K-12 curriculum sequence has major holes or oversights.  Or how the books being assigned to high school students couldn't possibly be understood because they are written with a middle aged audience in mind (about the nuances of adult sibling relationships, for example).

It makes me think that the schools will never improve because most people have either drunk the kool aid and/or have no idea what to look for beyond a general feeling of something not being right.

I see some of these things.

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8 hours ago, EKS said:

Things like specifically what is wrong with my son's math teacher beyond just being a "bad" teacher to "avoid."  Or how the K-12 curriculum sequence has major holes or oversights.  Or how the books being assigned to high school students couldn't possibly be understood because they are written with a middle aged audience in mind (about the nuances of adult sibling relationships, for example).

It makes me think that the schools will never improve because most people have either drunk the kool aid and/or have no idea what to look for beyond a general feeling of something not being right.

I saw things like this before I started homeschooling. I don't think homeschooling makes a person notice, but rather that people who are more inclined to think about education are more likely to homeschool. Also, people who have subject expertise in some area or educational experiences in a different system are more likely to notice shortcomings.

On the topic of the books: I am not sure you can ever find books that speak to all highschoolers. Some are perfectly capable of understanding nuances in world literature written for an adult audience, and some cannot grasp the plot of a YA story written for 11 year olds. In general, I found the expectations too low rather than to high.

ETA: To be specific: I noticed things like a  teacher not understanding percentages, fundamentally bad (and sometimes erroneous) math pedagogy, illogical and poorly designed social studies assignments,  factual mistakes in science assignments, multitudes of mistakes in textbooks, developmentally inappropriate assignments... the list is very long

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I think it might be true that if you have had experience actually teaching your child, it may give some insight into the specific nature of problems in the program, or things that your child struggles with.  That might also be the case with a parent that is a teacher in the system.  Actually teaching and having that experience does create some insight, or at least it can.

I have noticed something similar to what was mentioned above with time spent on computer learning.  It doesn't sound nearly as bad, but I see them trying to make assignments snazzy by having kids do a website, for example, on the topic.  Most of the effort ends up going into the website creation, not learning about the actual topic. Largely I think because the format doesn't lend itself to longer complex textual output - the websites look better and are better for presenting with a few bullet points and pictures.  But there are real limits to how much depth that can communicate, compared to something like an essay.

In fact, in grade 7, they have not actually done any essay writing, and I think it is reflected not only in the writing skill, but their approach to content topics.

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10 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Do I have some insight into some issues, yes. I don’t feel fully qualified to evaluate all of them though.

No, me neither.  Frankly, I can't imagine how schools even do as well as they do, given that they have all those kids to deal with!

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2 hours ago, regentrude said:

On the topic of the books: I am not sure you can ever find books that speak to all highschoolers. Some are perfectly capable of understanding nuances in world literature written for an adult audience, and some cannot grasp the plot of a YA story written for 11 year olds. In general, I found the expectations too low rather than to high.

Of course you are right.  This particular example came from when my son was in a private school where most of the kids had similar reading ability, but even so, you never know what is going to speak to a particular kid and what is going to fall flat, which is why, I would think, when choosing texts for a group there should be additional, well-articulated reasons for the choice, such as it's a classic (so it will improve cultural literacy), or it uses one or more literary elements well, or whatever.  

Anyway, I hesitated to give that book as an example, but at the time it was assigned, it stuck out to me as being particularly inappropriate.  Sure, a bright kid could have understood the plot (though even that was pretty obscure), but I don't think they could have understood the emotional complexity that was required to really get at the heart of the book (relating to one's family of origin as an adult, and, conversely, relating to one's adult children/grandchildren) nor did they have the history background to understand several significant elements in it.  

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My years as a homeschooler have not given me any special insights when my kids have gone to traditional schools. 

Traditional school is very different from homeschooling. While I might not like some of the things that a particular school does, I accept that if I choose to enroll my kid, I have to take the package deal. A traditional school is a complex system, and while I might not agree with how a school does some things, I also accept that I don’t fully know all the complexities of the issue that caused them to make those choices in the first place.

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37 minutes ago, EKS said:

Of course you are right.  This particular example came from when my son was in a private school where most of the kids had similar reading ability, but even so, you never know what is going to speak to a particular kid and what is going to fall flat, which is why, I would think, when choosing texts for a group there should be additional, well-articulated reasons for the choice, such as it's a classic (so it will improve cultural literacy), or it uses one or more literary elements well, or whatever.  

Anyway, I hesitated to give that book as an example, but at the time it was assigned, it stuck out to me as being particularly inappropriate.  Sure, a bright kid could have understood the plot (though even that was pretty obscure), but I don't think they could have understood the emotional complexity that was required to really get at the heart of the book (relating to one's family of origin as an adult, and, conversely, relating to one's adult children/grandchildren) nor did they have the history background to understand several significant elements in it.  

Now of course I am REALLY curious what the book was :)

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54 minutes ago, Kuovonne said:

My years as a homeschooler have not given me any special insights when my kids have gone to traditional schools. 

Traditional school is very different from homeschooling. While I might not like some of the things that a particular school does, I accept that if I choose to enroll my kid, I have to take the package deal. A traditional school is a complex system, and while I might not agree with how a school does some things, I also accept that I don’t fully know all the complexities of the issue that caused them to make those choices in the first place.

Absolutely--I'm not saying that my homeschooling background gives me the ability to see all problems and their solutions clearly, just certain things.  And I absolutely agree that when you enroll your kid, ultimately you take what you get.  Because of this, I have not complained once since my son has been attending the public high school.

That said, several years ago both of my children attended a small private school for a few years.  At that time (and probably because I was spending a ton of money on this school), I *did* end up talking to the school administration about various things I saw needing improvement.  Apparently they found my input useful because within just a few months I was asked (in this order) to be on their strategic planning committee, a member of the board of trustees, a member of the newly formed curriculum committee, and, finally, the chair of that committee.  That (relatively minor) experience with school leadership helped me understand how complex running a school really is--and that was just a small school.  I can't imagine dealing with a large high school or an entire district!

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Tbh, I see a lot of things more clearly, having not stepped onto the state education conveyor belt. There's a lot of stuff in the world in general I probably wouldn't have noticed, and definitely wouldn't have thought to question, had I not been 'outside' of the system and exposed to a wider range of views and opinions than the standardised 'norm'. As soon as I realised that the 'experts' weren't expert at all, everything changed. ?

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7 hours ago, EKS said:

...I hesitated to give that book as an example, but at the time it was assigned, it stuck out to me as being particularly inappropriate.  Sure, a bright kid could have understood the plot (though even that was pretty obscure), but I don't think they could have understood the emotional complexity that was required to really get at the heart of the book (relating to one's family of origin as an adult, and, conversely, relating to one's adult children/grandchildren) nor did they have the history background to understand several significant elements in it.  

I notice this about a lot of HOMESCHOOL reading lists, and through all the ages. It seems like there are SO many classical homeschoolers who mistakenly think "rigor" means shoving higher level thinking, or adult-level reading material into every-younger grades. Which often leads to missing out on  those "windows of opportunity" of enjoying the HUGE amount of GREAT reading material that's a perfect fit for certain ages. But I find that I must be becoming a crotchy old fist-waving lady any more (LOL), as I seem to be out of sync with so many things. (Okay, maybe not fist-waving, as that suggests that I rant about all of those things, and I don't think I do. Hope I don't, anyways... (:D )

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6 hours ago, EKS said:

It was Clear Light of Day by Anita Desai.

Esp. when reading a work from a very different culture and from a different time period, hopefully, there was a TON of background support information and guided analysis provided in class, in order to make the work accessible to the students, and enable them to "dig deeper" into it.

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10 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Esp. when reading a work from a very different culture and from a different time period, hopefully, there was a TON of background support information and guided analysis provided in class, in order to make the work accessible to the students, and enable them to "dig deeper" into it.

There wasn't as far as I could tell, but I also know that it is difficult to really understand what goes on in a classroom without being there yourself.  

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