Monday, April 27, 2009

How Then to Educate Our Children?

This weekend, a homeschooling mother shared this YouTube video on a homeschooling discussion group along with the statement that 'school is obsolete', meaning, America’s progressive education system must not be what will help our children. I watched the video, and was reminded that I'd seen this video in 2008.

This blog post is an expansion of my response to the group.

For those who found the video interesting, this same topic was touched upon lightly by Sir Ken Robinson in his online lectures recorded 2008 and prior, and moreso he discusses it in his book tour for his new book “The Element”.

After viewing the video and hearing those stats the question is what should our youth be preparing for? If we choose to homeschool them then what does that mean for how we should guide them and instruct them?

Rather than use the statistics in this video to bash schools and their educational content, and say, "in our homeschool we will not choose to teach what the schools teach", I would love to hear what some of you think we as homeschooling parents could be or should be doing instead. If we know this information, what choices do we choose to make in order to prepare our children for an unknown and ever-changing job market?

If the future requires adult workers to work with things that have not been invented yet then how would one prepare? Or shall we focus on some foundational elements of developing our children as a person, character traits and a good work ethic?

Does a liberal arts education (such as a classical home education) truly prepare people to work in all industries (such as working with computers and the Internet and new technologies)?

I guess the question is 'what does getting an education mean' and what does it mean to be 'an educated person'. The answer would differ for those people to whom schooling or being educated means vocational training or 'preparation for the workplace' than someone with other ideas of what it means to 'be an educated person'.

As to the question of a large scale education reform in public education in America it seems to me, even before watching that video and hearing those statistics, that such an endeavor is impossible due to the size and scope of America's public schools and the large number of people, organizations (including a huge union) that stand in the way of change. A complete overhaul of the system seems impossible.

The only changes in American schooling that seem to work are small changes that utilize small numbers of people and wind up (sadly) helping small numbers of students relative to the overall population. It seems to me the best strides in education reform have been the creation of magnet schools which have specific specializations. I note that often admission to those schools is competitive and usually requires lottery systems in an attempt to be fair with admissions. And some charter schools seem to work well while other charter schools have failed, so they seem not to be the answer either.

Related Posts

My long book review of “The Element” by Sir Ken Robinson

My blog post of thoughts after hearing Sir Ken Robinson lecture in January 2009

For Further Reading

The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

Real Education by Charles Murray

Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto

A Different Kind of Teacher by John Taylor Gatto

Instead of Education by John Holt

Technorati Tags: , , , , .


Barbara Frank said...

You ask some interesting questions that every parent, homeschooling or not, ought to be thinking about....I have a half-written book on this subject that I need to finish, but life keeps getting in the way.

Great post!

Kerry said...

Wow - that was an amazing 5 minutes. Thank you for posting that very thought-provoking video.

I'm shocked that Shakespeare had 5 times fewer words than we do today, and still was one of, if not the, most brilliant writers in history. Interestingly (as you may know), he invented a whole slew of words (like puke and upstairs)...which certainly proves that necessity is the mother of invention!

So, how then do we educate our children? I believe this really shouldn't be a hard question - it should be obvious, but our modern education system has muddied the waters.

We should educate them the weay they are meant to be educated...and that is to know how to LEARN, thus they will be prepared to learn anything they need to. Then we should give them the time and tools to be creative, thus preparing their minds for the creativite thinking and problem-solving they'll need. And finally, their education must include the fostering of a love of truth, goodness and beauty. Without a love of these, the future, despite the most amazing advances in technology, medicine or science, will be very bleak indeed.

Kerry said...

ooops, I meant to subscribe to the comments! I want to follow this comversation!

LivingByLearning said...

You're touching on a subject that You've opened up a can of worms with this post! I've been thinking about ever since I read Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat.

What does our rapidly changing world mean for our children, and how do we prepare them to succeed?

Well, I don't have a crystal ball, but I've responded with a greater emphasis on the classics as well as on technology. I've also ensured that my children are developing leadership skills through service learning.

I have a lot to say about this topic, more than I can put into a comment. I'll just have to follow this up with a blog post!

Mrs. C said...

My older son will be a sophomore next year and you wouldn't believe the AP classes and engineering stuff they offer there that *no way* I have the money/resources to do myself. I like that they're expanding those classes to include more students.

On the other hand, he remarks that my 8 and 7 year old are learning math he mastered in the FIFTH grade. So we are focusing more on the book learning. I am technologically... not very bright, but I figure in 10 more years the technology will change again and there ya go, they can learn all that stuff then.


christinemm said...

I decided to share my plans in a blog post. These ideas have been years in formation and have been tweaked over the years, but I don't think I've ever written them down in one place let alone blogged it.

See the blog post:

Please keep sharing your thoughts.

LivingByLearning said...

Well, this is such an important question, that I went from posting a comment, to writing a blog post, and now I'm writing a series of blog posts!

I posted the first in this series today:

How Should We Educate 21st Century Students?

Thanks for providing the impetus!