Musical perspective on standardized testing

All around me, the public school system in entrenched in TAKS season (Texas something somethings Skills).  It’s stressful to those involved and bemusing to those of us without. 

For the record, I always aced every standardized test I was ever asked to fill out with my number 2 pencil.  I suspect my children would do well on them – suspect, not know, because I’ve never subjected them to one.  Oddly enough, after 12 years of having it drilled into my mind the massive, ominous importance of standardized tests, I discovered that after you take the magical test that gains you acceptance to college, test-taking is a skill that just doesn’t play into the “real world” as much as my teachers might have me to believe.  I purchase groceries, pay my insurance, earn a paycheck, educate my children, and run a household and no one ever asks me to fill in the dots  completely on math and reading comprehension.  Weird!

This song amuses me to no end.  Hope you enjoy it, too!

http://www.notonthetest.com/

Educational anarchy…and my favorite homeschooling research

Does homeschooling really work? 

You’d think by this point in our nation’s history, given all the documented and measurable studies about test scores and academic competitions and college scholarships, this question would no longer be necessary.  But obviously, it is.  People still ask it, still challenge the very notion that parents can read books and teach their own children without delegating the task to professionals. 

 

Recently, I’ve been pondering the perfectly ludicrous (and tinged with desperation and hysteria) assertion by the California Teachers Association that my children learning at home from someone not licensed by the state is “educational anarchy.” 

 

Snicker snicker.  I’m just warped enough to be amused by that prospect.  It feels like a promotion.  I’m not just a oddball…I’m an anarchist.  As one of my homeschooling buddies puts it:

 

 

“Anarchy, huh?  Come to think of it, I’m feeling rather rebellious today. I guess it figures, since history shows home schooled Americans start revolutions, civil wars and major scientific discoveries. We’re a dangerous lot you know..hee hee”

 

On closer examination of my life, I don’t really feel like an anarchist.  I pay my taxes.  I renew my drivers’ license and library books with regularity.  This morning, my husband went to his job, my youngest went to play at a friend’s house (one of those dreaded government school kids, at that), and my older two kids went downtown to perform in the community theatre’s current production.  When I pick them up, we plan to stop at the library because the teenage anarchist rebel wants to check out a sequel to the latest novel he’s read.  Watch out, educators!  Teenagers voluntarily spending summer vacation time in the library…definitely symptoms of educational anarchy.

 

Maybe we’re just too boring to be anarchists.   I’ll stick to educational nonconformity.  That’s really what the teachers union is frightened by…nonconformity.  Kids not under their control.  I happen to think nonconformity is a valuable ideal worth protecting.  So did our Founding Fathers (please read First Amendment http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html).  So does God (check out Romans 12:1-2 http://www.horizonsnet.org/sermons/rom37.html).  No offense, guys, but I’ll take either of those credible sources over the California Teachers Association.

So here’s my absolute, all-time favorite piece of research that proves the benefits of homeschooling.  It goes beyond acing ACT tests and winning national spelling bees (all of which are great things to strive for and measure).  What it shows that homeschooled kids are growing up, moving into the “real world” and leading happy, well-educated, socially and emotionally healthy lives.  They aren’t hiding in closets and cowering in miserable, misfit huddles.  They’re voting and going to church and holding jobs and generally contributing positively to our country. 

Hardly an anarchist among them.  Guess we’ll have to try harder.

Check it out.

My son is a redneck joke

Homeschool field trips rock.  Yesterday, we took the kids on to Forth Worth to see Deep in the Heart, a musical about Texas history put on by Kids Who Care (www.kidswhocare.org).  The play astounded us all with incredible performances and moving portrayals of the Alamo, tornado victims of Saragosa (go ahead and google that, it happened while I was attending high school in another small Texas town), and other historical vignettes.  My kids’ favorite parts, though, were the jokes scattered throughout.  They’ve been repeating them to each other  ever since.  Here’s one of their favorites:

If you ever hear a redneck yell, “Hey y’all, watch this!” then step back.  Those are probably the last words he’ll ever say on this earth.

It was funnier the first 7 or 8 times. 🙂 

Last night, I was mashing potatoes for dinner and I heard my youngest son zip past, followed by strange noises, and a muttered, “Wow, that could’ve hurt.”  I ignored this.  Then Sean began to live the joke.

“Hey, mom!  Watch this!” he yelled.  

I’m not sure why he yelled as he was standing exactly 8 inches from me, but apparently this sort of activity requires yelling. 

I turned in time to see him rocket across the kitchen tile floor in his stocking feet, assume a surfing position, and attempt to slide into the living room.  He feet shot up from under him and he hit the floor flat on his back. 

He might’ve been hurt, but it was hard to tell.  Everyone in the house was roaring with laughter, and he had to laugh, too.  Fortunately, he will live to attempt more foolish stunts in the future. 

Doggone it, I’m raising a redneck.

That’s a good enough reason

While I sat at the computer wasting time surfing, I mean, um, researching and studying, I heard a repetitive, “scritch scritch scritch” behind me.  Turning my head, I spotted my clever and curious 11 yod diligently working with the vegetable peeler. 

 “What are you peeling, Jordi?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.

“This!” she chirped holding up a now oddly shaped object.  “It’s a cracker.  Did you know that this makes really REALLY tiny crumbs?”

I was stumped.  It seemed illogical to me. 

“Why are you peeling a cracker?” 

“Because I’ve never done it before.”  She grinned and then skipped away.

Why not? 

Why do you even ask? The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List

Okay, for the record, I would never actually SAY anything of these things.  Not out loud.  But I’ve thought a few of them, and agree with a few more.  16 and 18 are my particular favorites.  Maybe you’ll have a favorite of your own.  Anyway, I hope you find these funny or that they’ll give you a little food for thought.

Homeschooling is one of my favorite topics to talk about, and yet there’s a vast chasm between chatting about it with friends or genuinely interested acquaintances, and defending my personal family choices to nosy, bigotted strangers.  One is pleasant and informative for all sides.  The other is a frustrating waste of both our time that’s unlikely to change anyone’s opinion anyway. 

So, snicker for what these are worth.  Here’s the link http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/001/bitter_homeschooler.html to the original if you’re piqued to read more of Deborah’s thoughts.

The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List

By Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it’s legal. If it is — and it is — it’s insulting to imply that we’re criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words “socialize” and “socialization” mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you’re talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we’ve got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don’t assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a “reality” show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You’re probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you’ve ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don’t look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they’re in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we’re doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we’re religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn’t go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn’t have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don’t need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can’t teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there’s a reason I’m so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid’s only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he’d learn in school, please understand that you’re calling me an idiot. Don’t act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word “home” is right there in “homeschool,” we never leave the house. We’re the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it’s crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word “school” is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we’re into the “school” side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don’t have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, “But what about the Prom?” Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don’t get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I’m one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don’t ask my kid if she wouldn’t rather go to school unless you don’t mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn’t rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, “Oh, I could never homeschool!” Even if you think it’s some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you’re horrified. One of these days, I won’t bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you’re allowed to ask how we’ll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can’t, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn’t possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child’s teacher as well as her parent. I don’t see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he’s homeschooled. It’s not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she’s homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won’t get because they don’t go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here’s a thought: If you can’t say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

Supermom

Apparently, I have super powers.  Who knew?

I learned this a few days ago by accident.  I walked into my bedroom late in the evening where all 3 kids were engrossed in their newest PS2 game purchased with birthday gift money. 

“Mom!  I can freeze people and turn them into ice cubes!” called one excitedly.

“Mom!  I can make ants appear and attack people!” boasted a second.

Not to be outdone, the third piped in, “I can walk through electricity and not be harmed!”

I smiled.  Must be nice to have supernatural powers, I thought.  So, just to join in the conversation, I said casually, “Oh, yeah?  Well, I can make pancakes.”

I fully expected this to be ignored in the video-game induced frenzy.  Imagine my surprise when all three dropped their controllers and stared at me with real admiration in their eyes. “Really???”  Sean actually leaped off the bed, ready to dart for the kitchen on the spot.  I commanded their respect and (momentarily) their full attention.  Talk about power!

Guess what we had for breakfast the next morning? A little extra work from our usual scrambled eggs or cereal, but definitely worth it for the return.  They sang my praises and gave me lots of hugs.  Every now and then, I feel like I’ve inched just a smidge closer the the Proverbs 31 lady.

Pr 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed.

If that verse went on to say that after calling her blessed, they returned to their bickering and forgot to put away their toothbrushes and pajamas, we’d be spot on. If I could keep them in the sweet and blessed state all day, THAT would be a super power.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to remember to make pancakes more often.

After all, with great power comes great responsibility.