THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 856, January 24, 2016
We live in a moral leper colony.
How To Teach
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Why is home schooling of interest to Libertarians (and many others)? We believe that: a) The State doesn't own our children, b) the "public" (government) schools do a poor job of educating them, and c) government schools are primarily interested in dumbing down their inmates in order to make them placid, unquestioning slaves of The State.
Therefor, along with the Christian families who despise the cultural decadence being pushed by those institutions, Libertarians feel that our children are infinitely better off being taught the values of their parents and by their parents. The fact that home schooled children out-perform government schooled students in every worthwhile ability (such as literacy, numeracy, sciences, etc) is a great reward for our efforts, too.
In order to make a contribution to this laudable trend, I have written the following:
"CHAPTER 1... The Beginning"—Monty Python
"How to teach?!" That's not a very exciting title, is it? It doesn't sound pretentious or even particularly erudite. And that's your first hint; don't expect any asinine euphemisms or insipid "educationalese". I won't be blithering about "re-inventing the wheel" because the round type has yet to be improved upon. I call a spade a "spade" rather than a "manually-powered spatulate entrenchment utensil" too, because clarity of speech and writing reflects clarity of thought. Teaching is about simple, logical, systematic and clear activities, despite what the government skoolz claim.
The skoolz are run by incompetent nitwits who are the tailors of the emperor's new clothes. They know nothing of how kids learn, only how to impose their crackpot theories on reality. They call students "learners" as if they discovered that learning is what students do, then they proclaim that they're "learner-centred". Self-centred careerists is what they are, and they're far worse than merely useless.
In this essay I will refute their crackpot ideas and show how easy --and inherently fun—teaching and learning are when not corrupted by bureaucrats. It's free of charge, too, but I will ask you parents to make one commitment to me: GET YOUR KIDS OUT OF THE PUBLIK SKOOLZ!
"People who love their children home school them."—Kaptain Kanada [a wonderfully wise chap but not the most humble]
The government skoolz are all about stifling creativity, making education an alienating experience, propagandising and "socialising" kids, reducing to the lowest common denominator, and crushing the desire and ability to think analytically. Get your kids out of those prisons. Now.
But how to teach? Where should we start? How about at The Beginning? That seems as good a place as any.
Learning starts in the womb. Unborn babies learn to recognise voices and many other sounds. Mothers know that singing lullabies has an effect on babies from a very early age. I'm going to move on quickly, however, as I have had no experience as a mother and precious little as a father. I have been able to observe a LOT of babies and toddlers over the course of my life though and these are some of my conclusions:
* Babies have four modes: eat, sleep, excrete, and learn.
* Every moment that they're not doing one of the first three, they're doing the last.
* Learning is vital to the survival and health of babies.
* Learning is, therefore, inherently fun for babies and it doesn't just interest them, it absorbs them.
We actively teach babies, for better or worse, but they conduct constant independent experiments of their own, too. Often it's a combination of both: you explain that the oven door is hot and the kid verifies it by an experiment the first moment your back is turned. Two lessons are learnt: "hot" means pain, and Mummy is generally fairly trustworthy.
The entire universe on this side of the womb is totally new to babies. They just got off the bus. They're new in town. All they start off with are instincts: eat, sleep, excrete, and learn.
Baby holds porridge bowl at arm's length and lets go... You and Sir Isaac Newton know what will happen next, but the kid has absolutely no idea; it might go straight up and crash through the ceiling. It might go sideways and hit the fridge. As it turns out it goes straight down and hits the cat, much to the amusement of the dog who quickly moves in and eats the porridge. Mummy gets mildly hysterical and the "NO!" alarm goes off again. That's exciting and a great reward for so little effort. The question now is: will these events occur every time the porridge bowl is sent off on a physics experiment? There's only one way to find out...
And so the experiments continue. Mum & Dad spend a lot of time trying to prevent Baby from conducting some of them. The battle is engaged, the war is on. The child will outlast the parents so they must learn to direct and supervise much of the experimentation if they wish to preserve the furniture and their sanity. [Did you notice how smoothly I segued into the parents-as-teachers theme?]
Everyone knows that "parents are the first teachers" but few realise that they are the best and most qualified if only because of their direct personal interest in their offspring. You taught, or oversaw the learning of, most of what your child will ever learn in his whole life before he even lost his first baby tooth. Yes, by age six a child has an astounding working knowledge of physics, botany, zoology, chemistry, spoken language, musical and other patterns, acrobatics and artistic expression and much more.
You did an amazing job; don't tell me that you aren't "qualified to teach" because you spent six years proving that you are excellent at it. Heck, I bet your kid could tie his shoes and ride a bicycle by that age. When you look at where he was on the day of his birth that's a lot of progress in just six years.
So now we proceed to the "formal" schooling task. You can turn your child over to the wardens and guards of the skoolz or you can continue teaching him at home.
[Notice: I'm going to say "him" as an inclusive so as to save the stupidity of "he/she" or "their" misused as a singular. If that bugs you, then it's time to go read something else. Also, all spellings (except deliberate misspellings & mistakes) are in English, not 'Murrican. Y'all can spell in your own dialect.]
WHAT ARE (Y)OUR GOALS?
First off, you must jump through a series of flaming hoops imposed on you by the bureaucrats of your local Department of Education [sic] or Ministry of Learnism or whatever they call themselves. You will find that they have a required curriculum of neatly defined and distinctly separate "subjects".
The good news is that you can usually satisfy their asinine demands while still helping your child(ren) to learn something useful. Most likely they will insist on some standardised tests based on the "subjects".
Not to worry; your kid will be able to ace those tests and more. We'll get back to that topic anon.
What do you want for your child? I hope it's for him to be able to decide what he wants to do in life. Whether you wish him to become an engineer or an opera singer he'll benefit from having a variety of interests and abilities.
This monograph assumes that you have that attitude.
Chapter 2: THE CURRICULUM
That's a fancy word for "what we're going to teach" as near as I can tell. As I said above, this is divided into "subjects" or some euphemism for same. The good news is that you don't have to teach as if everything were static, isolated and unconnected, and I plan to show you how to do the opposite.
Let me start with an anecdote from my days as a pedagogue (that means "skool teechur") in various publik skoolz:
One day as I was teaching a grade 3-4 "split" class we somehow lapsed into a group discussion. We had wandered off course/topic/subject and it was a delightful, all too rare, moment. Kids were telling about their experiences and, in essence, teaching each other. I stood back and took a fairly passive role.
At one point a little guy (we shall call him "Billy" just for the heck of it) interrupted, breaking the magic spell of learning; "This is all very interesting, teechur, but what subject is this?! The schedule says this is 'sposed to be Language Arts class but I can't figure out what it is!"
The little guy was genuinely distressed. I told him, "It's all one subject; Life In The Universe. Everything is interconnected with everything else."
He became still more upset. He insisted that he had to know what subject we were "doing". I persisted. He challenged my assertion that all things were connected. So I said, "Name a 'subject' that we do in school and I'll show you how it's related to every other subject." He said, "Science."
He thought he had me there. He was wrong. In Science we were studying Sound & Vibrations. To do so we hand made various Musical instruments, which was a combination of Art and "Industrial Arts". We wrote in English of our observations, etc., and we learned some Italian vocabulary used in Music. In Physical Education they were doing various exercises/games to Music and learned about Mathematical ratios like ¾ time and every activity was a lesson in Applied Physics and Physiology.
It went on from there. He remained adamant and he remained upset. After only four years the "education [sic]" system had compartmentalised everything for him. Everything had to be in its little place or the universe became unpredictable and, therefor, frightening.
You will be required to teach "subjects" but you do not have to do so by separating knowledge and learning into them. In Alberta, whence I hail, about a century ago there was a teaching method called "Enterprise Education". Most people in Alberta lived on farms and small towns then and their children were very familiar with crops, animals (both wild and domestic) and all things associated with them.
To teach in the "little white school houses" which dotted the Prairie Provinces of the Dominion of Canada, a teacher had to simultaneously occupy 30 to 50 students who usually ranged in age from six to sixteen years old. So, in addition to teaching the alphabet, addition & subtraction, etc. she (they were almost always young women and many only had a grade 8 education themselves) would teach an "enterprise" unit such as Grain Farming.
The older pupils worked with the younger ones on almost everything. This kept the older ones sharp on "the basics" and taught them responsibility and caring for young kids, too. In the course of such an enterprise the primary grade kids might learn how many bushels in a peck, how many acres in a section of land, how many acres in a quarter section, et cetera. They might well weave baskets for "arts & crafts class", again with the older ones tutoring and guiding the younger, learn fractions and ratios via the bushels, pecks, acres, and sections, and biology from the planting and germination of seeds in miniature "plots" of soil in boxes in the classroom (and the schoolyard in warm weather).
They learned maths during a Merchant's Shop enterprise by making change with tokens and running up totals of "purchases" et cetera. Singing work songs made memorisation not only easy but fun, and girls learned to sew real items of clothing for the "store" which the boys built with odd bits of lumber.
Students might write advertisement posters for the "products" of the store and/or write news articles about it. Every enterprise was talked and written about and students learned public speaking, spelling and vocabulary in doing so.
As always, the more complicated tasks were done by the older children who oversaw and tutored the younger ones in their tasks. The teacher taught what was needed to each age group as needs became apparent, often introducing a new enterprise with the instruction of skills which would be useful in it.
Since everything had a practical application in the lives of the students it was interesting to them and easy to learn. It's an historical fact that farm kids who'd gone no farther in school than grade 8 could read, write and speak English far better than most of today's high school graduates (and many university graduates), and they could do many math calculations in their heads, too. Instead of relying on pocket calculators they used the ones God gave them, their brains. Fancy that, eh!
The "3 Rs" of Reading, 'Riting & 'Rithmetic were the focus of the early grades but were taught in the context of things with which the children were familiar. The spelling lists were comprised of words that were appropriate to each grade and which were mostly taken from the enterprises and story books.
Teachers (and older students) read every day to the children in the early grades and penmanship was taught to all until they could write legibly.
I realise that most people no longer live on or near farms and small towns but all, especially home schoolers, can still learn from and use the methods of Enterprise Education. So what are those techniques?
1. Combine "subjects" to teach the required "courses".
2. Teach mostly that part of the curriculum which will be useful for an enterprise/theme.
3. If you have more than one child, have them work together on each theme. Even though you must often concentrate on teaching a skill to an older child it's amazing how much the younger ones will learn if they are present, even if they're engaged in some other activity.
Have children build things.
Represent themes in writing and artwork.
Use music and dancing, especially rhyming songs, both to memorise and summarise.
Take "recess" breaks for unstructured play outdoors. Do NOT use that time for blinding your children with computers and television screens, etc.
Read every day to children and teach them how to "sound out" words ("phonics") so that they will be able to read to and by themselves as they grow older.
Teach enterprise-related and storybook vocabulary spelling words by the phonetic method and hold "spelling bees." Even if you have only one child you can have a spelling bee by giving him "points" for each word correctly spelt.
Praise and encourage genuine accomplishments. You must also correct mistakes but that need never be done in a discouraging manner.
Chapter 3: SOME SPECIFIC EXAMPLES
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." ~ Albert Einstein
A thousand years ago when I was a young lad, I struggled with maths. I barely kept up with addition and subtraction, although they did try to teach them in a fairly realistic way: pictures of pennies (remember those?) and other objects helped us grasp the concepts and word problems like "Johnny has 4 apples until Billy hits him over the head with a baseball bat and steals three of them. What does Johnny have left?" [Answer: A single apple and an egg-shaped lump on his head]
Actually the word problems weren't that interesting; I only wish they had been. But there was a recognition that little kids deal best in the concrete and have difficulty with the abstract. I am still a "hands on learner" if a topic is not inherently interesting. I suspect that there are others like me.
When I got to high school (grades 9—12 in those days) maths all became totally abstract. They taught us Algebra with hardly a passing explanation of either where it came from (like our number system, we got it from Arabia), what its name meant, or why it was created in the first place. The fact that it had practical applications in modern times was mentioned only briefly in passing.
Then it was on to a bewildering and alienating confusion of letters, numbers and symbols, quickly followed by protestations that, "I'm never going to need to know this stuff," by most of the class.
Yet years later I found that the little Algebra I remembered was useful to me in many situations, even manual labour jobs! Every carpenter has a pencil and it's not just for drawing lines on boards. So why weren't we shown the possible uses of the Algebra we were supposed to learn?
The outlook of the skoolz was that they'd cram a lot of theoretical knowledge into our pointed little heads and then, years later, it would be there if and when needed. Of course that results in "cramming" for tests on the students' part and the subsequent loss of most of what was allegedly learnt.
Geometry was particularly difficult for me. It was (mis)taught in the same manner as Algebra. The teechurs crammed it into us and we crammed for exams the night before, then forgot it and got on with sports, music, and the pursuit of the opposite sex. Such was high skool "education". What would I do differently? I'm glad you asked...
Using the Enterprise method, the first thing I'd do is to give a short lecture on what the word Geometry means, where it comes from, and why it was invented:
The ancient Greeks lived in hilly, even mountainous terrain which enjoyed good climate(s) but very little level ground upon which to grow crops. Because of the rivers and mountainsides and inlets from the sea they had very few farms which were laid out in neat squares, unlike the broad, flat, rolling prairies of western Canada.
If you fly over Alberta or Saskatchewan on a clear day and you look down at the farms below, you will see great squares of land, many of which are subdivided into fourths. Each of those squares is one section of land, which is one square mile. Each section contains 640 acres of land so a quarter section will have 160 acres. If farmers want to buy or sell land they've only to look to know what the area is of a given piece of Mother Earth.
The ancient Greeks couldn't do that; their arable lands were in all manner of irregular shapes and sizes so real estate transactions were, initially, complicated guesswork. Then some smart guy with time on his hands devised a method for measuring land area: "geo metry" in ancient Greek, meaning, not surprisingly "land measurement".
If one man had a parcel of land that was shaped like a right triangle and another had a farm that was roughly rectangular, by using Geometry they could quickly determine the area of each. This made everything to do with farming easier; buying and selling the land was based on an accurate measure of it, estimates of harvests could more easily be made, amount of seed needed for a field could be determined, even how many sheep or cattle might be supported by a given pasture could be known.
After telling that to students, a Geography (and what does that word mean?) lesson would be both informative and intriguing. Cartography (the study of maps) fascinates most children, and various maps showing elevation, etc., will absorb their attention. Tracing and colouring maps or even making jig saw puzzles of them or relief maps (depending on children's ages and abilities, etc.) would involve their minds in the problems faced by the Ancients.
Reading books of classical history and discussing and writing about the conditions of Greece at the dawn of Geometry and watching appropriate films about ancient Greece so that the clothing styles, buildings, and politics of the city-states become familiar would help those born in the 21st century to "identify" with people of the 6th century B.C.
To make it all immediately, physically real, mark off various geometric shapes on your lawn (use stakes & string) or on a sidewalk (use sidewalk chalk, of course). Using this method (and others—like cutting out felt or cardboard shapes, tracing around such figures to duplicate them, etc.) you can quickly teach younger students the names of the different shapes, and older students can draw and label them as they learn the calculations necessary to determine their area(s).
Use your imagination, the possibilities are nearly infinite.
A FEW TIPS FOR TEACHING ARITHMETIC (& MATHS)
Sometimes it's hardest to teach the simplest concepts. A little boy in grade 2 once said to me, "I know that 2 + 3 = 5, but I don't know why it equals five!" He asked me to explain it. That is the single most difficult question I was ever asked by a student of any age in all my years of teaching.
I think that the best way to "answer" that question is by having a lot of realistic, practical arithmetic problems. The little blocks of "ones, tens, hundreds" that they were given to play with had no meaning to them except for constructing little buildings.
Of course, a certain amount of memorisation is necessary, especially in the early years. The Enterprise method works best for that. It's no coincidence that you can still sing "The Alphabet Song" and will be able to do so when you can no longer remember your own name. Singing, especially rhyming songs, is one of the best techniques for getting the synaptic pathways of memory blazed into your brain. Use it. A lot.
Have young kids count everything; make it a game. When they are restless, ask them to count how many steps it takes to walk from the table to the stairway. Have them count the number of stair steps, windows, doors etc. in your home.
You can use that knowledge for memory techniques, too: Each step to the first landing represents one of the Canadian provinces or counties in Delaware or types of farm animals or the names of cloud formations or whatever you're studying in any of the "subjects". They can actually write the names of those items on paper strips glued to the faces of the steps and call them out as they walk them.
It's amazing the things you can remember in this way. Go online and search out "memorisation techniques" etc. and see what you come up with that will help your kids to commit facts to memory.
Data which they need in order to do math problems can be written in felt pen on large sheets of paper which are pinned to the wall. I used to have the times tables posted above the chalk board in this way. Although we drilled and played various fun games with the times tables (and there are lots of those!) it still took some kids longer to learn them than others, so when they were doing math problems at their desks they would look up at the times table charts as needed.
I even allowed them to do that during tests. Blasphemy!It is interesting to note that, as the year went on, fewer kids needed to look at the times tables until, finally, as a group they told me that they didn't need them and I could take them down!
Some people call this "cheating" but I found that after you've looked up at the chart for 9x5 for the hundredth time you realise that you remember it. I also didn't think that they would be forbidden from carrying a list of the times tables with them in life, either. Is it "cheating" to look up the spelling of a word in a dictionary?
Learning the multiplication tables is a damned trauma for many children and it doesn't need to be at all. Practical applications, "word problems", fun memorisation games & drills, and much practice will triumph every single time—although it will take more time for some kids than for others.
I don't particularly care if a child is nine, ten or eleven years old before he has memorised the multiplication tables so long as he finally gets there without having a nervous breakdown.
Many of my students came to me with "Math Paranoia" and I concentrated on giving them success experiences combined with praise just to get them past the mental block that had been implanted before they arrived in my classroom.
Mathematics are the languages of the sciences (and much else) and should be taught in combination with them as well as other subjects. It's not hard to teach any child math; it's only made difficult by the idiotic skoolz and their crackpot theories.
Don't despair if your kid is slow to catch on at first; use your head to make maths fun.
TEACHING ENGLISH (or whatever is the dominant language where you live)
Although the promoters of the "whole language" farce claimed that "children will learn to read by reading!" two generations of illiterate hi skool gradjuits have disproven the inane boasts of those crackpots and their theory. I used to ask if they were going to teach Drivers' Ed. by tossing car keys to teenagers and wishing them luck. [From what I see on Canadian roads that may well be the method used, too.]
The point, however, is that in my opinion students can always do things better after they've learnt how to than before. That implies that somebody must teach them.
The single most important activity in teaching babies and children their mother language is, not surprisingly, speaking it to and with them. Most people can't resist talking to wee babies as if the little stinkers could actually understand them. "How are we doing today? Did you have a nice nap?" et cetera.
Such chit-chat is not wasted; it teaches babies the sounds of their language, how those sounds are formed, how meaning is reinforced by facial expressions and body language, and interpersonal relationships. They observe and hear even when not being spoken to; at an early age they can tell when Mama is calling to Daddy, for example, even when he pretends that he cannot.
It's important to hold one-sided conversations with babies for the above reasons and, as they get older, it's important to listen to their responses. Speech as both a social tool and a method of communication is learnt from immediate family members in this way.
Nearly as important is singing to babies and toddlers; it teaches rhythm, melody and emotional expression (unless I sing to them, in which case it just stunts their growth) and lullabies sung to babies in the womb give them a head start in this learning. Music not only hath charms to sooth the colicky wee beast, it is essential to mental and emotional health.
Encourage older children to sing to their baby siblings if they can be interested in doing so. Music helps us learn many other things and song lyrics are one of the best teachers of language.
Coming in close in third place importance is reading. Read to your children every day until they're old enough to read with you. Then read with them daily until they're old enough to read by themselves. Then set aside a time each day for them to read whatever books interest them.
Reading to babies is as beneficial as singing to them and talking to them. It all helps to nourish their natural desire to communicate.
By the time that children are around eight or nine years old, most of them enjoy being read to from full books (as opposed to storybooks whose individual stories can be absorbed in a single sitting). This "serial" reading will cause them to think about what was read to date and to wonder what will "happen" next. It focusses their minds on literature even when they are doing other things. "Day dreaming" of this and other sorts is, in my opinion, a good thing.
I recommend that you read the seven books of "The Chronicles of Narnia" to children of eight to twelve years old and that you read "The Hobbit" with ten to fourteen year olds, but both are great for any age group.
HOW TO USE "The Hobbit" TO TEACH ENGLISH
If you read Tolkien's great classic to (or with) your child(ren) each day it will make "Language Arts" fun—even irresistible. Choose a comfortable armchair for yourself and your little ones and have another chair right beside it so all can see and "follow along" the words being read. Older children can follow along in their own copy of the book if they like.
Stop to explain the meanings of words or phrases when you think it necessary or when your child asks. Write down or "highlight" each such novelty for later reference.
Stop before children are restless and always stop at a point which is a "cliffhanger" in the narration—a suspenseful place—so that you are begged to continue, but do not continue. This has the effect of making children want to "read ahead" on their own or to at least look forward eagerly to the next installment of the adventure.
Before you close the book, ask the listeners to summarise the story to date and what was read that day. Have them write (continuing) notes about the story's progress and the new words and phrases from each day's reading. Review with them the spellings and/or meanings of those words as well as their effects: "Why did the author use that word to describe that setting/character/activity?" for example.
You can ask children what they think will happen next. Then ask them to tell you why they think so. Young ones can write these predictions in sentences or short paragraphs; older ones can be asked to detail what each character might do and when, where and why he might do so. Start the next day's reading with both a review of what has taken place thus far and of what was predicted might happen next. You can ask them why they think they were right or wrong about their predictions.
If they are learning the parts of speech you can ask them to show you the verbs in a given passage and/or the nouns, etc.
They will love learning to write and decipher the "runes" as well, and that teaches them phonetics in a very entertaining manner. You can write them notes in runes, have them compose runic poems, illustrate favourite scenes and label them in runes... the possibilities are limited only by your—and their—imagination.
I recommend that you make a map of Middle Earth (from the book's own illustrations) on a very large piece of newsprint paper. Mountains and trees can be cut from coloured construction paper and glued to the map; the forest of Mirkwood can have "spider webs" of string glued in places; rivers and lakes can be coloured in blue.
Landmarks along the route can be drawn and/or created from construction paper and the Hobbit's route to Smaug's mountain can be shown by dotted line "footsteps" along the way.
This is an enjoyable art project, it causes kids to recall the events of the story in sequence, and it is a great way to "chart" their various academic accomplishments as well as to follow the progress of Bilbo and the dwarves. I used to number every fifth footstep and give students pins with numbered "flags" to (secretly) identify them. Then I awarded points for each correct spelling word, math problem solved, etc. As they reached each landmark I awarded little prizes from a toy "treasure chest". They loved it.
Older students can make their own maps using elevation lines or even make relief maps. They can draw and/or construct characters, places and structures from the story. Ask them for ideas.
The government skoolz have cut Art class along with Music and Physical Education as being "frivolous" extras whereas in reality they are essential to using all parts of the brain in concert. In other words: learning.
What I have proposed above is just a very brief sketch of some ways in which to teach English reading, writing, vocabulary and grammar. Use your own ideas and play to your own strengths.
Physical activity is vital to the development of mental activity; Athletics & Academics, I call it. For one thing, sitting for long periods is mentally fatiguing. The younger kids are, the more frequently they need a break from sitting. Not only is a regular "recess" necessary to get the flow of oxygenated blood into young brains, but it gives tired eyes a vital rest, too.
As I have indicated above, much can be learnt from associating song and information, and physical exercise can be employed to indelibly imprint knowledge in young brains, too. Often you can combine song with dance and have twice the desired effect.
It's a fact that we learn and retain information more easily the more senses we use to acquire it. Listening to lectures, as university students have been doing since before the invention of the printing press, is one of the least effective ways to learn anything. I haven't the time and space here to give many examples of combining physical and mental fitness exercises but they are legion and easy to find.
Since most parents aren't very athletic these days, and since home schoolers especially like and need breaks from their offspring, most of you will become "soccer moms" or "hockey dads". I have one recommendation: avoid the team sports.
The skoolz teach that "there's no 'I' in 'team'," but they fail to realise that there are lots of 'I's in individualism, integrity and innovation. It's laudable to be cooperative with others but it's damnable to be a blind follower of the bleating flocks, in my opinion.
So I recommend athletics rather than sports: swimming for boys and girls, track & field for boys, cross-country (for older boys), dancing for girls (but not ballet, because it cripples children), gymnastics for boys and girls, and the martial arts for boys and girls. Calisthenics are fun and beneficial even to young kids but weight training is best for boys who have stopped growing.
Note that I do NOT recommend traditionally male sports for girls, especially at competitive levels. The feministas might not like it but girls are different from boys in both anatomy and physiology and they'll be far healthier by doing athletics that are appropriate to their gender.
You are entirely free, of course, to call me a nasty male chauvinist and ignore me. That's the beauty of Libertarianism: we recognise that your children are yours to raise and that nobody else owns them -least of all The State.
Or some crabby old curmudgeon.
Nothing is more inspirational/educational than a well-planned, well-prepared and well-organised field trip to a workplace or institution which is associated with something which is being studied by your child(ren). I can remember every field trip I ever went on from 50 to 60 years ago and many things I learnt at them, and I can't remember where I put my reading glasses ten minutes ago.
If you haven't joined or formed a home schoolers' association where you live, do so. Parents work together and share ideas in those organisations and they very often do field trips together. You can do well just with your own kid, however.
I recommend home school associations for the chance to hire an occasional guest to speak to you parents and/or teach a lesson of some kind to your kids.
CHAPTER 4: EVALUATION ("Testing")
I used to greet new classes of grade 7 students with the news that, "I am a modern educator so there shall be no nasty 'tests' or 'quizzes' in my class."
After the wild cheering and thunderous applause subsided, the wiser inmates would warn, "Wait a bit, guys; there's got to be some catch to this..." That's when I added that, "I prefer to refer to them as 'Performance and Comprehension Evaluation Modules'."
"That's just another word for 'test'!" they would protest, and they had just learnt a valuable lesson: a rose by any other name would still have thorns.
No matter what we wish, home schooled children must also submit to governments' tests and home schoolers must prepare their children to succeed at them.
HOW TO TAKE TESTS
One of the few intelligent things that old Chairman Mao ever said is that in traditional (Confucian style) Chinese schooling teachers treated students as enemies and set traps and ambushes for them. Much of testing is like that in "modern" skoolz, too.
I always told students what would be covered by upcoming tests and gave them specific examples. My tests covered what was taught and how it was taught so there were no surprises.
Often, when doing a problem or exercise of some sort with a class I would say, "You know, I bet that something like this would make a good test question..." Then I'd make a big show of making note of it in my lesson book. For the benefit of the more dimwitted, I would say, "HINT, Hint, hint..." like a diminishing echo. Then a parallel question would appear on the test. The kids considered that a "gift" but they learned how to do it which was the object all along.
I calculated how much time it should take them to finish a test and then allowed them even more time to do it because I don't believe that it's more important to get the right answer to a maths question in 30 seconds than in 90 seconds. That artificial stress factor causes panic and sloppy work and benefits no one.
My tests covered everything I'd taught because I believe in testing students on all of it, not just bits and pieces chosen at random. The object of learning is to learn it all, anyway. I encouraged students to learn 100% of what was taught and to consider 99% insufficient. "If it's all worth teaching, it's all worth learning," was one of my mottos. Another was, "'Good enough' isn't good enough."
Some people think that's "unrealistic expectations" but it isn't if the material is properly taught and the students are encouraged and motivated. "Learning is fun if properly done," is yet another of my adages so kids shouldn't be traumatised by asking them what they've learnt—and that is just what a "test" should do.
The government skoolz tests, however, are another matter. Exactly how and how often they'll demand to test your home schoolers varies from state to state and province to province, but here are some general tips which I taught to my students:
When taking a test, read the whole thing before you even pick up your pen or pencil. This familiarises you with it and gets your thinking aimed at its specific demands.
Do not do the questions in order! Most tests toss things at students at random; that's stupid in many ways but there it is and we're stuck with it. In the initial reading of the test almost all students will be able to classify the questions/problems in these categories: a) I've no idea whatsoever, b) I think I could figure that out with some work, c) I'm pretty sure I've got that one, and d) that's a piece of cake!
Do the d) category questions first, no matter where they are found in the body of the test. This gives you some successes and that calms the mind.
Do the c) questions next. Most of them will have become as easy as the d) questions by now as reading over the test and doing the d)s will have caused the calmed, focussed mind to recall much information.
Obviously, the b) questions are next. They, too, will have become much easier than at first supposed because tests' questions themselves contain information and they spark the recollection of other data as well.
If time is running short and/or most of the a) questions are still a quandary, guess at the answers. Sometimes your guesses are lucky, especially in "multiple choice" exams. The examiners won't know which you guessed at and can't beat you with a baseball bat even if they did.
Finally, I told my students to, "Remember that no matter how important a test is, it's not worth getting upset and pimply about it. Do your very best, then don't worry. The worst they could do is shoot you and you weren't going to live forever anyway."
Perspective aids objectivity.
Don't let kids read by artificial light, play with tiny-screened cell phones, use pocket calculators to do maths, sit for long periods (over an hour) without breaks for exercise, waste time online, use the computer unsupervised, watch TV, eat a lot of sugar, or "multi- task".
Go to libraries, use books rather than Google, prowl used bookstores for old school textbooks and other teaching aids, compare notes and meet with other home schoolers, encourage constantly and discourage never, praise genuine accomplishments but never make meaningless praise to build up "self-esteem" (which I call "selfish steam") because that fraud encourages mediocrity. To hell with "participation awards".
One thing kids need to learn is that we aren't all super good at everything but that we can do our best at anything to which we put our minds.
This little essay is very sketchy of course, because I've no desire to write a book (I've done that in past) on the topic, only to give a few hints and suggestions to home schoolers. I hope that it is useful to you, and if you wish to ask me specific questions I shall try to find time to answer them.
May God bless you all with Peace, Love, Prosperity and Liberty!
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