Except that, no, it really doesn’t. The structure of school causes the initial problem – children focus on getting through the material rather than actually thinking. The school’s solution is to increase the structure to prevent children from getting through the material without thinking. It’s not working. Why not just fix the problem that the school created in the first place? Structure it just enough so kids can efficiently learn what they have to learn, then give them a lot more free time so that they have time to think about what they are interested in.
Homeschooling is less structured, less rigid, and provides a superior education.
Away from the standardized tests and rigid schedules in public education, kids can let their creative sides flourish, learn about the world they live in, and, when it’s time, earn acceptance into the best colleges in the world.
And why is homeschooling so superior? Is it because all we moms are so awesome at teaching?
“Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers,” Berry said. However, it’s not that being schooled at home advances an application.The real value lies in what the added freedom of homeschooling allows students to do with their time.
Nope, sorry homeschooling moms, I’m a big fan of you all, but it’s not just our awesome teaching skills that are giving our kids great educations. It’s the fact that we’re done by noon and our kids have free time to explore their interests. It turns out that having time to do stuff by yourself, and then the luxury of having time to think by yourself, is really good for your development as a person.
But that’s not the public school way. The public school way is to meddle, then when the meddling causes problems, to meddle some more. So, here we have Harvard researchers who are trying to figure out how to teach kids to think:
Teaching for understanding has always been a challenge, which is why Harvard’s Project Zero has been trying to figure out how great teachers do it.
So, these researchers go on about how teachers are trying to teach kids to think…and it turns into all these different micro-manageable ways. The kids are sitting their for their entire school careers being told how to think…and because the schools aren’t happy about how the kids aren’t thinking enough about stuff, they keep telling them more and more in detail about how the kids should be thinking. And then telling them how to think about their thinking.
Then they complain that the kids don’t have these thinking strategies because they’re waiting for someone to direct their thinking:
“If we don’t have those strategies, if we aren’t aware of them, then we’re waiting for someone else to direct our thinking.”
So……..kids are supposed to learn to think for themselves, rather than waiting for someone to tell them how to think, from having someone tell them how to think?
Have you ever had a boss who micromanaged every last thing you did? I had one who pushed a key on a keyboard for me. I found another job. You don’t come into someone’s keyboard territory. Micromanaging thoughts to the extent that this is talking about, on a large group scale, is venturing into someone’s keyboard territory. I can’t imagine having to be a student today, suffering under some teacher telling me how to think. I was in kindergarten when I realized my teacher wasn’t all that smart (she thought you had to brush your teeth before changing clothes and that no one, NO ONE, would ever do it the other way around). These are the people you want to micromanage thoughts?
It’s fruitless anyway, the structure of school is what causes intellectual dependency. It’s explained well in lesson #5 of the Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher:
5. INTELLECTUAL DEPENDENCY
The fifth lesson I teach is intellectual dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. It is the most important lesson, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives. The expert makes all the important choices; only I, the teacher, can determine what you must study, or rather, only the people who pay me can make those decisions which I then enforce. If I’m told that evolution is a fact instead of a theory, I transmit that as ordered, punishing deviants who resist what I have been told to tell them to think. This power to control what children will think lets me separate successful students from failures very easily.
Source: The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher
It’s well worth reading all of the lessons in that essay, by the way.
I have to give the researchers props for telling teachers to give the kids some time when their thought-time not completely controlled, although they’re still directed to reflect about something specific, presumably what they think is their own business unless they choose to share it.
One easy way to start asking students to be more metacognitive is to build in reflection time about thinking.
Of course, even if they do manage to form an opinion of their own, they probably have already been taught by the system not to express it. It’s the sixth lesson in the Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher, children learn very quickly that they are to value getting a good grade, and those good grades come from pleasing the teacher:
6. PROVISIONAL SELF-ESTEEM
The sixth lesson I teach is provisional self-esteem. If you’ve ever tried to wrestle a kid into line whose parents have convinced him to believe they’ll love him in spite of anything, you know how impossible it is to make self-confident spirits conform. Our world wouldn’t survive a flood of confident people very long, so I teach that your self-respect should depend on expert opinion. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.
Source: The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher
However, I have to be realistic here – my son’s school wasn’t even teaching spelling since it’s not on the state standardized test. If a school can’t even be bothered to teach spelling, how much time do you think is going to be spent on giving the kids some free time to think?
I think it’s a fantastic idea to get kids to develop thinking skills – but the answer to doing this is not by increasing structure. Kids learn to think very well in a homeschool environment.
“The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” education expert Dr. Susan Berry recently told Alpha Omega.