It has been a while since I posted. I have been on the road for most of the month, with limited access to internet.
I received an email questionnaire from a friend who is doing a paper on education. I thought her questions were thought provoking, so I am sharing my responses. Even though her questions were more geared to public education, she wanted me to write from a homeschooling perspective.
How long have you been a teacher and what grade do you teach?
****I homeschooled my daughters K-12, and have been involved in numerous aspects of home education for 22 years***
What is your personal philosophy of education?
1. Education happens in many settings, and the traditional structured classroom is perhaps the least efficient and least effective for many students.
2. A strong, loving relationship with a student is one of the keys to an environment that nurtures and excites a student into the desire to learn.
3. A tutorial or small group type setting is often the most effective milieu since the teacher will be directly involved with the student on a personal level, seeing what the student has mastered and where more attention is needed.
4. A tutorial setting allows the teacher to customize material to meet the need of the students for their best educational experience.
5. Students will best learn when material is presented from their primary learning style.
6. It is important to “cross-train” students into other learning styles since the world will not always cater to their favorite MO.
7. Parents are the best advocates for their own children in most instances, and will generally be able to discern the best instructional methods and directions to maximize the child’s abilities and gifting.
8. Part of the educational process is preparing students for life–marriage, family, citizenship, morals, proper social behavior, understanding and working with other people, and finding their destinies. Parents are invaluable in this process to lay the foundation and prepare students in these areas.
9. A great deal of education and life skills happen on a daily basis as students are encouraged to actively participate in and understand the world around them in day-to-day activities.
10. Another key part of learning is the freedom to investigate a topic through interaction with people, processes and paradigms–in other words, far more than can be conveyed in a classroom or textbook. Hands-on involvement is crucial for true learning and can be incorporated into most subjects with a little thought and creativity.
11. Our job as educators is to teach students to know how to learn, and to realize the keys that knowledge gives to open many doors. If we excite their minds and senses, and provide a balanced offering of information, interesting people and experiences, and insight into where to get more, we will create learners who will far surpass the knowledge that we can give them.
12. A teacher who is able to instill this dynamic in a student will be able to rejoice when the student learns how to fly on his own.
What is your opinion regarding accountability of both students and teachers with regard to education?
A student does need to be accountable to the instructor for the completion of and mastery of the assignments. Speaking as a home educator, that accountability may come in the form of the teacher observing what the child has been working on, or it may include various structured assessments–papers, presentations, tests, discussions etc. The ultimate assessment is the caliber of person that has emerged from the educational process–character, leadership, motivation, desire to learn, care and compassion for all groups of people, integrity, ability to understand a task and do it well, good citizenship, personal responsibility for behavior and attitudes, willingness to receive constructive criticism and implement appropriate change, etc.
I do not believe that home educators (students and teachers) need to be accountable to the government for the instruction of their children. The academic proof of accomplishment comes in the college entrance tests and job skills tests and military entrance exams. *******
What do you think the role is of teachers regarding teaching student’s values, morals, and ethics in the school setting?
As a home educator, this is a crucial part of the educational process. See responses above.*************
What do you think is more important, educating for personal emancipation or social structuring?
If personal emancipation means providing the foundation for students to be productive citizens in the world ( see my response to the accountability question), this is the goal of education. Social structuring involves people and institutions trying to play god with other peoples’ lives for the perceived benefit of those calling the shots. It is a way a forcing society into a certain mold and is actually very damaging to the individual and to the nation.
If people are cared about as individuals who have been uniquely gifted by God for a particular impact on the world, there is a radically different approach to educating them and helping them find their unique contribution. The social structuring approach will try to use a one-size-fits-all methodology and will likely punish individuals for being unique. I am opposed to education as a form of social engineering. ***
Do you think bias exists in education or do you think educators are taking this issue too far? If you think bias does exist then to whom?
I think there is incredible bias built into the traditional educational system:
1. Children who are forced to be with the same age group of people for 12 years develop prejudices against those not in the same age bracket.
2. Group learning is at its best when all the students can get through the material in the same amount of time. This is a bias against the brighter students and those who need more time and assistance. (if the high and low end students are separated out, again, you are looking at a bias that is instilled in the participants–sort of a “separate but equal” mentality that is never equal due to the difference in materials and approaches that are used in the distinct groupings of students)
3. Because of all the “administrative and disciplinary tasks” that need to be accomplished in a school day, there is a bias against toward a more “canned” approach to learning and against more ceative modes that might actually be more effective.
4. Along with the “canned” approach, there is generally a certain body of knowledge that must be fed the students at each grade level (i.e state standards). This is a bias against interest and aptitude based learning.
5. In some government schools, there are endeavors to separate out the “blue collar” workers from the “professional” workers at a young age. The ‘professional” group gets better quality of instruction and more opportunities than the other group.
6. It is my understanding that the PSAT test doesn’t have absolutes in terms of how well an individual does, but the scores from each area of town (or each school) are given a gradient based on how likely that sector is to have high ranking students. In other words, school A may have dozens of bright students who score almost perfectly on the test–only missing a few points. School B may have the highest score several points below the bright group of School A, and that student may “outrank” several of the bright kids from the other school who missed fewer questions. This is a type of bias against individual effort related to a set standard.
7. In most government schools, there is a strong (and documented) bias against Christianity (just check out the number of educational lawsuits that have a religious component), while other religions such as Darwinism, Islam, humanism and atheism are allowed to thrive and are deliberately taught by the instructors. This is even more true in most universities. Diversity and tolerance are shouted from every corner, but there is an incredible lack of tolerance for Christianity.
8. With the forced promulgation of acceptance of gays within the schools, there is a bias for this segment and against traditional (and Biblical) views of sexuality and sexual relationships.
9. Tying in to # 7 and 8, history and science books have been rewritten to leave out much of the Christian influence, and instead giving larger focus to the non- or anti-Christian worldviews, which include flagrant emphasis on evolution and homosexuality.