New (to me) blog

Thanks to Shaun for sending me over to read something on Elsie’s blog. Elsie has written a few posts recently that get into some of the fundamental questions about the politics of education. She has been a school teacher and now homeschools and has some very thoughtful posts on the relationship between those two roles.

Reading some of these have reinforced some ideas I’ve had for a while. It would be good for homeschoolers and teachers to try to understand their points of commonality and also their differences and then to work together to address some of the bigger problems with education in many of our countries. Because the problem isn’t fundamentally about the teachers. It is about the mistrust of teachers, demands for accountability of a particular sort, and larger political decisions about both the funding of schools and how we will make schools accountable. Teachers as much as homeschoolers suffer from too much emphasis on standardized testing. And many of the good teachers have left the system because they don’t think “teaching to the test” is good teaching.


6 thoughts on “New (to me) blog

  1. Local news here has a story about a teacher aquitted of assulting a student. he grabbed him by the neck and smashed him up against the wall. yes, he left injuries. The judge said “the public wouldn’t be served” if the teacher did time for it.


  2. That’s the kind of event that does a disservice to us all. I suspect it is not teachers who create a system in which what happens in school is not subject to the same rules as the rest of the world. And, in fact, teachers often suffer from such a generalized belief, because kids (the few who are inclined to be disrespectful or violent or whatever) will test boundaries. And if you put the boundaries somewhere unreasonable, they will go right up to that limit.

    I disagree with this judge. How could the public not be served? Unless there was considerable extenuating circumstances, in which case why was the student not disciplined in some other way for whatever that was?


  3. Teachers as much as homeschoolers suffer from too much emphasis on standardized testing.

    Yep. Several of my relative teach, and one was just blown away at Easter when she asked if I administer standardized tests at home and I told her no. We’re not required to in Texas, and I just don’t need to because I observe my kids’ progress pretty closely. But the idea that these tests are a key part of learning is deeply ingrained now. It’s big business, I guess.


  4. When I taught at a private, independent school, many teachers and prospective parents were surprised that we didn’t do any of the standardized testing. Some were really shocked, and acted like we were doing something illegal. It’s not required for any but in public school.

    As homeschoolers in NYS, we have to give some kind of standardized test every other year, starting in fourth grade.


  5. I liked Elsie’s post, which I also saw by way of Shaun’s blog. There are a lot of teachers in my extended family and my oldest three went to school for a few years so I know from personal experience that many teachers are dedicated and creative and know things about how to manage a class of diverse children, as Elsie pointed out, that I don’t know (or need to know in order to homeschool). When you read John Holt or JT Gatto (both former teachers) it seems clear that the problem with the “system” isn’t normally the teachers (underpaid and hardworking set of people, generally) but the set-up itself.

    It is a good point about the standardization. I think that standardization and the resulting need for oversight also creates a vast middle layer of administrators who are not working directly with kids and whose interests may in fact be opposed to those of the children.


  6. Jove, I want to follow up on something else you said here. I think you’re right that there MUST be some points of commonality between the teachers who know that NCLB, etc., are not good for kids, and the families who have decided to educate their children at home. It also feels like this dissatisfaction is growing. How can we get these groups together? How can we mobilize them to actually begin to make waves, and change? The people who are making educational policy are not actually involved in education in any meaningful way: they are politicians. What could it look like if that changed?


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