One way to combat the poor educational system is to educate ourselves–or at least, educate our children ourselves. Homeschooling has grown dramatically over the last several years because many people are recognizing how badly our educational system is failing. Why subject our children to years of torture that will result in failure? A better solution is to bring them the information ourselves in a more comfortable environment. That way the children are more likely to absorb and retain the information. Maybe we can even spark more interest and curiosity, possibly learning something for ourselves in the process.
Of course in many areas the government controls what and how parents can teach their children. This could completely undermine the entire concept of teaching your children on your own. If test scores are a poor if not horrible way of judging a child’s competency, then having the government step in and tell you that your child has to pass a test for you to be a worthy teacher is a horrible test of your competency as a teacher, isn’t it?
Imagination is the key to any learning process. In a classroom environment, we strip the element of imagination out of every aspect of the “learning” experience. Lectures are given in a barren room where children are seated in uncomfortable chairs and expected to “listen” to a bunch of words being directed at them. This is true for every subject: math, english, history, science, whatever. Then these children are expected to retain those words and regurgitate them onto test papers. This is what our school system considers “education.” I don’t think so.
In English, children should experience the literature that makes the English language what it is. They should learn through experiencing the stories through the ages, and interpreting what those stories mean to them. The evolution of this living language needs to be taught through the stories that have been written in it. Children need to experience those stories and learn the love of reading. They should be taught how to use punctuation through actual use, not through a series of pictures on a blackboard.
History itself is a story. Most history teachers simply rattle off a series of dates and names. Of course children find this boring! Our history is not boring! As an historian I can assure you that the stories that brought us to where we are today are full of mystery, intrigue, action and drama. Everything this world is today comes from our history. There is tragedy and hope and much more. Any kind of story that interests you can be found in history, all you have to do is look for it.
In my opinion math has been taught incorrectly all along. I have always tested poorly in math. I have always felt that I was “bad” at it, yet, for the most part, I understand basic math. What I was taught sticks well. I’ve taken as far as Algebra 3, and I can form an equation for just about anything I want to do. I can create a word problem for real world issues, yet I have a real problem deciphering the “word problems” they have on tests. I really think that some moron purposely thinks up word problems that make absolutely no sense in the real world specifically to put on those tests. I rock at geometry. I can figure out angles and diameters beautifully…as long as I have my little equation chart with me. I got a C in geometry because they expected us to memorize all those stupid equations for the test! Hello, I have epilepsy caused by damage to the frontal lobe of my brain…the memory center…Thanks a lot for understanding you freaking jerks! Either way, since getting together with my significant other (who is a software engineer) I’ve found that I can do a lot more with math. The patience shown with me while showing me how to do something works wonders.
Science is the subject that bothers me the most. I spent almost all of my time in elementary school science classes “listening” to the teacher talk about cool stuff. Every once in a while s/he would show us us something cool, but very rarely could we actually participate. That didn’t happen until high school, and when it did, we were highly restricted concerning what we could do. Science is the one class where children should “go to town,” so to speak. When I was young, my father used to take me to the Omniplex Science Museum in Oklahoma City. This was the one place we were taken in which we could touch everything. It was like a dream come true for a child. We were given free reign to experiment with everything in the museum and we learned and discovered tons of stuff every time we went. I believe that every science class should be similar. Children need to be given “hands-on” experience with the things that they are learning. If they actually interact with what they are learning, the more likely the information will stick with them.
Overall, there are may advantages to a homeschool education. In the end, children who are educated at home end up happier, more satisfied with their careers, are more active in their communities and understand the world around them far better than their publicly trained counterparts. More homeschooled children go to college and earn a degree than publicly trained children, and during their undergraduate coursework, homeschooled children have a higher average GPA than their counterparts. The data shows that this has nothing to do with social status, wealth or other like factors. Simply having the opportunity to learn in a fun and comfortable environment is enough to raise those stats well above children who are forced to learn in a hostile, anti-productive environment.