Sunday, November 30, 2003

I read an editorial in the LA Times yesterday. It was written by a homeschooled girl.

The girl wrote that one difference in her schooling from what her friends experience in public school, is sometimes it involves her mother and herself screaming at one another across the table.

She also explained that she does the same work at home that kids do in school.

I wish she'd mentioned that homeschooling varies widely from home to home and child to child. I think most homeschoolers - at least most "unschoolers" - wouldn't dream of screaming at their kids over schoolwork. And most homeschooled kids would not be driven to the point where they felt they had to scream in order to be heard.

As for using public school materials at home -- well, what's the point, really? Why not just send 'em off to school?

No, really, it would be better to homeschool them, but why use the government-issue curriculum? I mean -- you're thinking enough for yourself that you realize that government-issue teachers aren't quite what you want for your child. Why stop there? Why accept government-issue texts?

One for one, they're problematic. Science texts are generally at least co-written by professional "educators" who really spend little or no time in an actual classroom, and have little knowledge of science. And their based on this false premise that all children need to get all the basic info on everything, and leave no time for specialized interest. It's not up to the kid - you open up the brain and fill it up with state-approved data, even if the data isn't fully correct.

Instead of reading historical biographies or journals or autobiographies, the schools give our kids these watered-down, politically-correct, often INCORRECT "history texts" and call that history education.

One year I picked up a pile of textbooks from a local elementary school. Actually it was in Beverly Hills - they would have the best, right? I called the principle, and asked if they had books they didn't need. These were, of course, all slated for the discard pile. But they had been in use.

The second grade science book was written at about a 4-year-old level. Honestly. I read it to my 4-year-old who found it cute the first time. Then we tossed it out. My older kids - kindergarten & first-grade-aged at the time - were way beyond that book.

I've come to realize that life itself teaches far more, and far more accurately, anything the kids could get out of these government-issue books.

You're better off going to a used bookstore for your learning materials. Interested in history? Get a book about Napolean's life. Or a book of letters from civil war soldiers. Or the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Don't bother with the watered down texts used in public schools.

It's much better, I think, to just find Good Books