Saturday, June 25, 2005

tired of justifying homeschooling

Recently I was asked by someone when discussing homeschooling in Nevada whether we were required to "evaluate" at the end of each year. When I answered no they then asked how I knew whether my son had "learned" all he needed and was up to level with all the other kids in his grade/age.

Be forewarned...rant coming... This response ALWAYS amazes me. My son and I are lucky enough to be one on one. I know whether he is understanding a concept or not. When he is having trouble with something we work on it until he "gets" it. This is NOT true of the school system. I know. I speak from first hand experience. I have a child in the public school system. A freshman in high school this past year who has been promoted to 10th grade for next year. She had a hard time all year with honors Algebra 1. She was transfered into a class with a different teacher 5 weeks into the school year along with numerous others because the original class was too large. Her tough luck because the other teacher was the better choice. We tried to get her back into the original but the "system" won out in the end. The new teacher did not "teach" ALL year. The notes my daughter came home with made NO sense. Thank God they at least had a text book I could review in order to try and help her. Higher math is not my strong subject so I did what most homeschoolers do when facing things out of their realm. I turned to a friend who is a "math geek" and proud of it. Thank god for this math geek too. She actually ended up being the one teaching my daughter. What my daughter did learn was a result of time spent with this person. My daughter passed with a C for the year. This was due to being given A's for homework turned in diligently (whether or not the answers were correct) and despite the fact that she had just barely passing grades on her tests. She flunked her final but since it was only worth ten percent of her grade she still ended up with a C for the year. And yes we will be working on taking exams and such on our own as this is not addressed in the "system" even in the supposed Study Skills class she took. We will also work on attitude, personal responsiblity and perseverence. My daughter has proof on paper that she "passed" this course and therefore most would assume she has a fairly good hold on these math concepts.... yet she does NOT "know" the material. She will even admit to this. She became so frustrated during the year before we turned for help "outside the system that is supposed to be teaching her" that her spirit was broken and it took the rest of the year to try and build it up to some degree at least. She had an evaluation at the end of the year (her year end grade) and to me that evaluation is WORTHLESS. It does NOT tell the true story. I KNOW the true story with her and I don't "school" her. I am just her parent who is concerned and involved even when others take the "responsibilty" of teaching her. They don't have this responsiblity in full because I believe it should be a working relationship. I have butted heads many times in trying to make this relationship work for my daughter's sake because this is what she wants. She understands the ramifications of working within this system for she was homeschooled for a time also. To say that their "evaluation" process (a final year end grade) is more legitimate is a farce. The exam itself is not a true measure of knowledge in a field. I myself freeze at them. I may do poorly when in fact I really do know the material. It is NOT superior to my own "evaluations" in our home studies where I am working side by side with these children. In this way I know as a parent, whether the child schools at home or in the system, if they "know" the material. The difference is that I don't allow my son to move on until he truly understands the material. The system on the other hand has given my daughter "proof" that she is ready to move on whether it is true or not.

This rant came about as a result of coming across this article:

According to this article a good number of children who were not able to show a working knowledge of their material are being passed on nonetheless. Evaluation is legitimate though. After all it is the system. Whether it works or not, in some people's eyes it is superior to alternatives only because it is the norm... that thinking "inside the box" mentality. Their evaluations are not questioned even when the results are that the children do not "pass". Well this mom for one is glad that she has learned to think "outside the box" and trust herself when it comes to the "education" of her children whether they happen to be a part of the system or not. And yes we will still work on those Algebra 1 principles at home because it is important to me that she has at least a "working" knowledge so she doesn't get lost later on. After all Algebra 2 comes junior year.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

saluting the 2005 National Scripps spellers!

273 kids showed up as spelling gurus. There was a quiz going aroung on MSN awhile ago for spelling gurus. Don't think any of the words that these kids had to come up with were on that quiz though. Nahhh. Too easy!

So kudos to Anurag Kashyap, a 13 year old from California, for winning with the correct spelling of appoggiatura which means a melodic tone. There was a tie for second place. Samir Patel, an 11 year old homeschooler from Texas and 13 year old Aliya Deri from California. They were taken out with the words Roscian which means skilled in acting and trouvaille meaning windfall. Personally I think Kashyap should have been given that word as his winning prizes are worth around $30,000. I'd say that qualifies as a trouvaille!

Kudos also to California for having two students in the top 3 and I always love to see the homeschoolers up there as well. Yes I am a little prejudiced seeing as we homeschool also. My own 11 year old homeschooler was in awe when he heard the words these kids had to spell. As the eighth grade representative for my own elementary school in the very beginning rounds of this same contest oh soooo many years ago lol I can attest to the hard work and perseverance it takes to get that far. Too bad I never made it past the city level. It was fun while it lasted though. :)

I think I will add a word that stumped another speller this year to my Josh's spelling list next time. He is after all a birder. The word - insessorial meaning birds that perch.

Again congratulations to ALL those young spellers. You sure could beat the pants off this spelling fanatic homeschooling mom.