Monday, November 19, 2007


In our current educational system, almost every school, public or private, relies heavily on certain tools which actually hinder the desired result of education. These include the obvious, overcrowded classrooms, non-standardized curricula, under-trained and unmotivated teachers, the “bad guys” everyone points at. But there are other subtly destructive ideas at work. These include grading, grade levels and homework.

When a teacher gives a grade, be it for a test or a semester, the teacher has admitted his failure. Why didn’t every student learn the requisite materials? The students were there. Every “B” issued is the teacher and school’s way of saying “we taught this student MOST of the materials”. And an “F”? They’re admitting that they haven’t a clue how to teach your child that subject.

Many courses are graded on a “bell curve”, in which a certain percentage of students MUST receive an “A”, a “B”, and so forth. Who determined the percentages? What do you do with a class that is almost entirely “expert”, give some of them “F”s? How about the class that is generally sub-standard, whatever the “standard” may be? Give a percentage “A”s when they can’t sign their names? It happens!

Grades pigeonhole a child. Your student is “bright” or “slow” or “below average”. According to what scale? Who determines the criteria?

What’s wrong with Grade Levels? Children are tossed into a group because they are the same age, and supposedly that alone will allow them to study well together. But what happens is the fastest or brightest students “slow down”, so they don’t soar ahead of the group. Slower students become “remedial”. The “average” student, whatever that is decided to be by whoever is in charge, is the governor regarding speed of study.

And homework? When you, an adult, complete your eight hours of work, and you head home, do you want more work to do? If a school can’t get enough information communicated in a standard day of school, what ARE they doing? When should a student pursue his own interests? Music…theatre…sports? When are they allowed control over their own time, their own lives? Who decided it was alright for a school to become the vast bulk of the child’s activities? And don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s “number of hours spent” that determine an education. It’s not. It’s “amount of information acquired, understood and ready to be used”.

Home school places the control over the student’s education back where it belongs…with the student and their parents or guardians. It allows the student to study in a safe environment…something few schools can claim they create, not with a straight face. It eliminates the need for grade levels, or homework. It allows student and parent to design a schedule the student can succeed with. It allows the student to move at his or her own pace, without comparisons or stigma. It allows the student to avoid grades, when the home school system used is a wise one. And the big “problem” with home school, that much-overrated concern, “socialization”, is readily resolved by extra-curricular activities such as sports and music studies, and the fact that the student will have far more discretionary hours in a week!

Steven Horwich
Connect The Thoughts


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