Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hot rod in the garage

Excerpted from a message board post:

Much about institutional schooling exists not because it's the best or the only way to learn but because it helps with the management issues of a mass-education system. Testing, standardized curriculum, chopping learning up into subject areas and grade levels, homework, science labs, report cards, credits, the top-down model of teacher dispensing learning to student and so on. All this stuff is, in my opinion, part of the school system merely because it makes for a semi-efficient factory model of education. The deeper you get into homeschooling the more you realize that education can really look like anything you want it to. If you're building a single hot rod in your garage you don't need an assembly plant, CEO, union reps, robotic assemblers, ad execs, fiscal planners, lawyers and a mission statement, right?

Same deal with homeschooling.


  1. Amanda11:51 pm

    You are right, but it is important to remember that a very large proportion of children in the world do not have parents sufficiently competent, educated and rich enough to do the extraordinary job that you do. (I include rich in the list because if you are a single parent or at subsistence level you may be capable but unable to devote your life to your children's education.) Without a school system these children would be condemned to a second class existence.

    So let us appreciate the fantastic work you do, but without disparaging every aspect of the school system: indeed some of the things you mention are actually valuable for children, especially the most disadvantaged.

  2. Amanda, I was saying that these things that make a certain amount of sense in the institutional schooling system don't make the same kind of sense in homeschooling. Nothing more than that. I was in no way, shape or form disparaging the trappings of institutional schooling. There's nothing wrong with assembly lines, unions, ad execs and the rest if you're running the Ford Motor Co. I think you're reading something into my post that certainly wasn't intended.

  3. Miranda, I totally understand what you are saying, and as a homeschooling parent, I have to constantly remind myself that the assembly style reporting and testing just isn't necessary when working one on one, to know what your kids have or have not learned.


  4. Hi Miranda. I totally get what you're saying and it's something I think about all the time. As a teacher, I so often wish I could give my students what homeschooling children get. I wish that if my students wanted to spend two weeks working on big project, I could let them. I wish that if I had a student who wanted to spend the entire day writing and illustrating a story, I could let them. I wish I could spend one on one time with each student every single day. Unfortunately, being in the public school system I am constantly having to interrupt them for recess, lunch, assemblies, music class, library period, etc. And then there are report cards that restrict me from just going with the flow. I'm in a public Montessori class so I have a little bit more freedom as far as "following the child" goes, but the limitations still drive me crazy. I think it's too bad because I can really see how sooooo much of what children want to do naturally has enormous educational value.

  5. The other thing that upsets me is that if I'm doing a large group lesson I can't possibly get to all their questions and comments or it would take all day. I keep thinking about how much learning could be done if more conversations could be had, but large groups aren't very conducive to good conversations. sigh.

  6. Anonymous7:49 am

    Schooling in the traditional sense has plenty of flaws...and you are right it is an assembly line but it serves a need in society bc not everyone can and should homeschool. I enjoy your blogs and agree with a lot of your views on schooling vs homeschooling. However I find it hard to believe that homeschooling will ever become the educational tool of choice for most parents particularly working class parents, which is what the first poster was trying to get at..I think!
    anonymous 2

  7. Anonymous6:38 pm

    If you can't make an analogy in your own blog, where can you?!

  8. Amanda5:32 am

    Miranda, I am sure you are right that I was reading in more than you intended: probably because my day job is setting up the UK equivalent of charter schools for the most disadvantaged children, in the course which I spend a lot of time reading research to help us sift out the wheat from the chaff in educational practice.

    And I felt that a couple of the things the poster mentioned do have intrinsic educational value in any context: in particular, (in relation to subject areas) a good taxonomy of knowledge helps all children learn more; and there are things that are best taught explicitly, whether by a teacher/ parent or anyone else. (On this latter point, I am VERY grateful to have watched a couple of hundred hours of Suzuki music lessons with several superb piano and violin teacher to have seen how they teach.)


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