Friday, January 28, 2011

Differing Opinions

Have you ever noticed that people can be a bit vicious when your opinion differs from theirs? This is something I've been thinking baout lately, not because of dealing with it myself, but seeing others deal with it. The topic of education of chilren is one that spurs many such vicious disagreements.

Some people are very upset at how 'academic' Kindergarten has become. You see, some schools actually expect students to be able to recognize their letters & numbers, be able to write their names, and even know names of shapes & colors BEFORE they start Kindergarten. There are some people who are just FUMING about that. Some will even go so far as to say that a child's brain isn't ready for that kind of work that young.
Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So, if you believe in the 'better late than early' mentality, that's fine. You go ahead and believe that and you can voice that opinion, too. However, it is not right to berate someone who has a different opinion. It is not right to accuse someone of pushing or harming their kids because the child learned to read at a young age or because they have the child doing a little bit of schoolwork at 4 or 5 years old.

Many homeschoolers will tell you that school should take less than an hour per day for preK -1st or 2nd grade, and should increase by 15-30 minutes per year after that. That's all well & good, if that's how you want to do it. If, on the other hand, your opinion differs from that, you may want to watch where you voice that opinion. I have seen some hellacious arguments on that topic. Apparently, if your child is doing more than an hour of school before 3rd grade, you are a horrible parent. If you explain that it's because you cover more subjects, that just makes you the overbearing, overachieving parent who is pushing your child and trying to claim that your family is better than everyone else. If you explain that it takes more than an hour because your child struggles with something (therefore, more time is spent on it), you'll find out just how horrible of a parent you are. Don't you know that them struggling means that they simply aren't ready, yet? If you would stop being so pushy and just let them be, whatever they're struggling with would just click when they are ready for it (because we all know that you don't have to work at anything, everything will just eventually click). GRRRRR. I can't tell you how tired I am of that ridiculous garbage.
I mean, seriously, how old are we? I don't know about you, but I'm an adult. I would assume that most other homeschooling parents are also adults. Maybe, we could all act like adults, instead of having infantile arguments.

If you are comfortable having 'the basics' (math, reading, writing) being the only things your child does before 3rd or 4th grade, that's fine, for you. However, that doesn't mean that someone who sees it differently and has their child doing Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Foreign Language, Logic, etc is wrong. While Science, Social Studies, Art, and Music could be done in an Unschooly, child-led way until maybe 4th grade, they can be done formally in the lower grades, without causing detriment. Remember, your way works for you, but education is not one-size-fits-all. As for the idea that whatever a child struggles with will just magically click one day, ummm no. That's not how it works. You can't just skip education assuming that one day they'll just suddenly get Math concepts, how to read, how to do Algebra, etc. with no effort or practice at all.

Now, what it really comes down to is this: Everyone has their own ideas of what education should look like. Some people feel that rote memorization should be a large part of learning. Some feel it should be a smaller part. Some feel it shouldn't be part of learning, at all. Some people teach only 'the basics' until 3rd or 4th grade. Some feel that the other subjects should be started before 3rd or 4th grade. Some feel that once or twice a week is enough for Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language, Art, and Music. Others feel they should be covered more fully than that. Some prefer textbooks. Some prefer 'living books' (some can't agree on what living books are). Some think tests are appropriate assessments. Some prefer projects, portfolios, or other forms of assessment.
What each person uses, when providing their child's education, is a personal choice. People need to remember that. The fact that someone chooses to do something in a way different from you, is not some kind of personal attack on you.

I think that having penmanship as a subject is a waste of time. If you have your child working with a penmanship program, that's your choice. My decision to not use one, because it would be a waste of time FOR US is not an attack on your way of doing things. I don't like textbooks for elementary school except for Math and Foreign Language. That does not mean I'm judging those who use textbooks. I disagree with the idea that all that's important in the lower grades are Math, Reading, and Writing. However, I don't attack those that cover just those. I do choose to have my kids cover more than that, though. In other words, I'm more of the 'live and let live' mentality. I'll do things my way, you do things your way, we can share ideas & advice, explain our reasons for our choices, but I don't take the fact that you do things differently as a personal attack. I'd like to think most people are like me in that respect. I know that many are. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of people who are the opposite. Their way is right, and if you disagree, you are wrong. Voice any differing opinions, and they are treated as a personal attack. By saying that you find rote memorization useless, you have insulted their entire way of life and called their children morons. By saying you think Science is too important to leave to just Nature Study until 6th grade, you have claimed your kids are smarter and better than their kids, and have accused them of educational neglect. Some people really just need to learn that the world is full of people with their own opinions and their own perspectives. Just because someone doesn't agree with everything you say, that doesn't make them your enemy. Seriously, just grow up and realize that the world does NOT revolve around YOU. You are NOT infallible.
The world is full of different people, different points of view, different preferences, different priorities, different, differentDIFFERENT!!!!! Differences are what give us the wonderful variety that fills our world. Stop berating or belittling anyone who sees things in a different way!