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Today I watched two short videos about learning to read and write that could not be more different.  One is by NIEER (National Institute for Early Education Learning, www.nieer.org) and the other is from an interview series of participants in learner directed democratic education (a particular form first started by the Sudbury Valley School, www.sudval.org).

I would never have guessed 25 years ago when my first child was born that I would end up in such a completely different place that the NIEER video appears all wrong to me now, based on assumptions with which I no longer agree.   And that democratic education would make sense to me after living through my own, unexpected, experience of it.

The NIEER video (http://nieer.org/...) speaks to best practices for an effective preschool classroom, the Sudbury video (http://www.youtube.com/...) speaks to self directed learning from the age of four that may or may not ever take place in a classroom.

The NIEER video scenes are familiar, the narration holding out promise of early student achievement based on research that we can trust.  The Sudbury video describes informal learning that results in achievement based on each person’s unique timetable, through experiential interaction of their choosing within the learning community.

Watching these two opposites, it struck me how hard it is to look beyond what we know, what feels true and right, sometimes in our very bones.  We are born into a time and place that comes with customs and beliefs, with rituals and knowings.  We absorb these with the air we breathe, they are water in which we swim…they are, natural.  

Travel, moving away, meeting new people open us to other ways of doing things, other belief systems, obviously very different cultures.   Most of us find that interesting, some reject it altogether, but few of us embrace deep changes to our beliefs, to what feels right and natural.

The water in which most of us swim, even around the world, contains a belief system around learning and education that I accepted well into my adult life (earning two master’s degrees and two licensures along the way) but the birth of our son and his learning path unleashed a tsunami that sucked us out to sea and deposited us on a completely different shore.  

Terrified at times by the unknown, we chose to trust our son, to ride the wave, eventually paradigm shifting, thriving, and now swimming in completely different waters.  Although our family is now happy on this shore, we’d love others to join us, the water really is fine!

But it’s hard convincing others who haven’t had our experience to even consider putting a toe in the water.  It’s been 12 years since we took our son out of school in the 8th grade, a journey and aftermath documented by my spouse in his blog www.leftyparent.com.  The public education system we pulled him out of to first homeschool, then “unschool” is in worse shape than ever.

From where I stand now I would love to see democratic education in the public sector, funded and available to all families who feel their children would benefit from it.  At the moment it is too far from the public education belief system to be accepted, which is a shame considering how well it works and how satisfied the students are who have been able to attend these schools.

The two videos seem to capture the essence of the difference between these two very different views of education…one, teacher directed with prepackaged content and the assumptions below, the other learner directed, based on our innate desire to grow into effective adults, and driven by our curiosity and unfolding passions.

That education sea in which we swim is filled with assumptions; I came up with some of them in the list below, as relevant to the videos.

Our education assumptions are that:

1.    Academic subjects can be hard to learn and are not something that will just come  naturally.
2.    Learning academic subjects happens through being taught by a teacher.
3.    Certain subjects are to be learned by certain ages (class grade levels).
4.    Almost everyone in the classroom must learn the same material at the same time for the same amount of time.
5.    Instruction time for each subject is broken into daily or weekly slots based on how many subjects to cover during the school year for that grade level.
6.    Learning of the material must be demonstrated through testing and reflected in a letter (or sometimes number) grade.
7.    People who receive higher grades are smarter and work harder than those who receive lower grades.
8.    Public acknowledgment of grades and test results is either motivating or neutral for students.
9.    People who do not become proficient in basic classes by certain milestones (reading well by third grade for example) will fall further behind and are more likely to drop out so academic learning strategies should begin earlier, some as early as nursery school.
10.    Responsibility is considered learned and demonstrated by doing what you are told to do by teachers and other adults.

I realized that when we hold these assumptions, our research starts from there.  At least, that is how it seems to me.  If we believe, have never known anything else, and see all our family, friends and acquaintances appearing to learn and do well under these assumptions, then the research is done to explore “best practices” within that paradigm, rather than exploring whether it is indeed best practice to even use that paradigm.

The Sudbury model of learner directed, democratic education holds none of these assumptions.  None.  Yet their students choose to learn the basics and more, large numbers of them becoming entrepreneurial, many going into the arts, the majority going on to college (with no grades or transcripts).   They are often remarked upon as being thoughtful, comfortable with all ages, well spoken, creative, hard working and responsible.

The classrooms filmed in the NIEER video show young children being directed during specified times to work on writing letters on specially lined paper, to sit in groups around the teacher as she reads from a lesson in large letters, sounding out specified groupings, to look at books during reading time.  It looks good, and it is good within the paradigm.  The point of the video is to have all classrooms look like this.

And it works in the sense of these kids learning to read and write through instruction.  From outside that paradigm, I have to ask, at what cost?  I know that sounds like a strange question when we’re concerned with the societal costs of young children not learning to read and write.  But the costs are in terms of what else people can be doing with their time that they can’t do because of “seat” time.

They can be playing, running their bodies, watching butterflies, building an encampment, molding clay, asking for a story to be read or playacted, collecting worms, engaged in imagination games or doing any number of things as varied as they are as individuals.  They can be living life and through that living learning in every sense of the word (yes, including reading, writing and ‘rithmetic)…rather than preparing for life in a strictly controlled environment.

The point is to do that living in an environment with resources, supportive people, safety through democratic process and the freedom to choose one’s path and own timing for the pursuit of passions.

Usually when I’m talking like this, people will respond as if I meant that it should tomorrow be instituted in every school, which they object to as impossible to implement, unproven (in their view), and unsupported by all parents.

Not to worry.  I know that isn’t going to happen any time soon.  The point is that there are different ways of learning (not just different learning styles).  Schools that embrace those ways are of great benefit and desired by a segment of parents.  In the best of cases they should be available in the public sector as part of “many paths” for our unique young people to be able to grow and learn according to what is truly best for them.  At the least they should be given a serious look, as they are growing, more families are requesting them, and I believe there are important features from which our current system could learn.

I haven’t gone into more specific explanation about learner driven democratic education as that will take it’s own piece (or pieces).  But do take a look around the Sudbury videos…the one linked here is one of about thirty in the interview series.  It may sound crazy, there may be a part of you utterly dismissive of what may seem like a ridiculous notion, but I invite you to dive in…and keep your eyes open.

Originally posted to reconnected on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am going to share the Sudbury video on my (8+ / 0-)

    Facebook... more people need to be reminded that learning is an innate ability of all humans, that the modern school system stifles that ability for many, many students, and that student directed learning is really the only solution in the end. If we want a smart populace, we need people to take charge of their learning experience.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Also republished to Education Alternatives. Would you like an invite to write and publish with us? You and leftyparent make a good team  :)

  •  Thanks for a good diary. The Sudbury model (7+ / 0-)

    seems to have similarities to Montessori Schools. I agree that individuals must take charge of their own learning.

    An important part of reforming education is to change the attitudes and beliefs in the US about education in general. We need to promote the idea that education is good and being educated is desirable. Right now there is a great distrust of education and educated people. Look no farther than at Palin who promoted Joe Six Pack. Do we really want an under-educated, average guy in the White House? (Oh, wait, that was GWBush!)

    Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

    by 50sbaby on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 06:55:35 AM PDT

  •  Here is another alternative (5+ / 0-)

    My brother attended one of these schools in Kent, UK:

    http://www.steiner.edu/

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 07:22:44 AM PDT

    •  Waldorf and Montessori schools (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jcrit, Renee, Food Gas Lodging

      are two of the most well known, generally, of "alternative" type education, it seems to me.  A few have even made it into the public system.

      We took a look at Waldorf when our son was young and were impressed with several aspects but in the end decided, although it was respectful, it was still too adult led for our tastes.  We know several people whose kids went to a Waldorf school who were very happy with it.

      Hopefully one day we'll have choices in the public sphere!

  •  I love that you wrote about the cultural (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jcrit, cotterperson, Food Gas Lodging

    assumptions related to learning. I find myself stumbling against them often when I talk to people about my children who taught me that the way I believed education worked was only one model, and not a particularly joyous one. The shock of seeing that cannot be underestimated. As you say, we swim in belief systems that are largely invisible to us. When we trust our kids we start to see those beliefs more clearly. I'm glad that you are writing this.

    "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

    by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 10:19:05 AM PDT

    •  You're welcome (4+ / 0-)

      I'm glad I'm writing this too...I've had it on my mind for a long time but am finally finding my way to writing about it.

      I love hearing about other people who have had a similar experience...isn't it amazing to suddenly have that water become visible, so to speak?  I found there was just no going back once that happened, although it took a few years of thought and experiences to get there.

      I think it's also part of cultural assumptions that it doesn't even occur to most people that there can be trust with our kids the way you and I experienced it.  There's a lot of writing to be done about that!

      •  Yes, I just wrote about that in fact. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jcrit, cotterperson, Food Gas Lodging

        I meant to a few days ago and your diary reminded me. Thank you for that!

        I spend time daydreaming about ways to make that water visible. Cultural assumptions cause so much of the trouble I see in this country.

        "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

        by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:28:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just read your diary (4+ / 0-)

          I was going to ask you what you wrote then went duh, go take a look!  I did, and read it and it is beautiful.  The details of what you went through are what I appreciate.  They really paint a picture of what actually living through this journey looks and feels like.

          And now we both get to feel the joy of experiencing the blossoming of our young people, having hung in there when it was so scary to trust.

          I'll write about our trust journey, just not sure when...

          •  Thanks! I think talking about what this feels like (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Food Gas Lodging, cotterperson, jcrit

            is important because sometimes the feelings are uncomfortable enough to scare people off.

            "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

            by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:26:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for bringing up these alternate methods (6+ / 0-)

    As a teacher, I also feel that the directed learning method, where everyone is supposed to be at the same level is not working, and that students should be able to learn at the pace that best suits them, and that will be different for every child.

    When I was in the Navy, we used a system of qualifications, that listed each skill separately, and needed to be learned and signed off by demonstrating knowledge of that skill to someone who had already been qualified.  It was efficient, and people learned at their own pace.  I believe that school should be the same way.  Instead of grade levels, use skills as the measure, and then we can take that and ensure the skills are useful, as opposed to rote learning.

    I advocate getting rid of grade levels, and go to a skill or qualification system that puts kids in groups that are at the same level of skill for that subject.  And just because it takes someone longer, it doesn't mean that person is stupid or slow.  We all have areas we do better at.  I had to take algebra three time before I got it, but that is what it took.

    •  I agree (4+ / 0-)

      that doing away with grade levels and using skills qualification would go a long way toward opening up the public school system to learner directed process.  Hopefully it would make it more neutral than using grades, although there would still need to be a cultural change so that students don't substitute attainment of a skill level for a grade in terms of thinking that means being smarter, etc.

      Sudbury schools don't require demonstration of academic skills but do have what they call "certification" for various skills involved in being in the school community...such as using knives in the kitchen or other equipment for cooking, using the computers, climbing certain trees, walking to certain places off campus for younger students, etc.

    •  Pony Club (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      I would like to add some thoughts I've had over the years on this.  

      We unschooled, inspired by John Holt, Sudbury Valley etc.  But one of the things we did while unschooling was Pony Club.  In Pony Club, there is a clear progression of standards starting with "D" (beginner) and going on to A for those who aspire to advanced knowledge and skill.  These standards provide a very clear curriculum and lessons are organized around these standards.  Then there are "ratings" which are basically exams to see if the child has accomplished the standards.  The ratings include oral knowledge and skills such as picking out a hoof or showing a certain level of balanced seat while jumping.  

      The children are instructed in mixed age groups.  A "D-1" child might be 8 years old or 15 years old.  The D1's and D2's can be mixed in groups.  The older C level kids often teach the D's.  The D's can teach kids that are "unrated" just being introduced to horses.  

      Children can stay a D1 forever and never 'rate up' if they want  (although that is rare).  There are no time frames for moving up in the ratings, you do it when you and your instructors agree that you have accomplished the skills at the next level.  Children are free to choose to rate or compete at the instructional "rallies"--or not.  

      My unschooled kids, who had no set curriculum for math, language arts, science etc.  really liked the structure of Pony Club.  

      John Holt also wrote that he wasn't against highly structured schools and writes about some foreign language institute of Ivan Illich's I think, that had strict requirements and exams etc.  His point, I think, was that the main element is choice, that no one is forced to go to this school, and when you choose an option like that freely it can be very educational.

      But I think often of how there could be educational settings that offer the mix of freedom and structure that could work well.  I think the Khan Academy guy is thinking of opening such a school, with mixed ages being one of the things he is looking into.  

      Anyway, those are my thoughts.  

      •  yes, choice is the key (0+ / 0-)

        My piece is highlighting the traditional assumptions people make about "the way it's supposed to be" that prevents them from seeing other possibilities.  Once we take those blinders off, the sky's the limit!

        In that context I write about what seems to be a very provocative choice...the learner's complete freedom to choose (no matter their age), and how learning happens without any formal structure at all, particularly with academic subjects.  Things you're talking about, like learning skills working with horses, are experiential by nature so lend themselves to "qualification" type approaches...it wouldn't really work to get it from a book or online class!  

        I tend to shy away from most rating schemes right now just because our society is so obsessed with rankings (thinking someone is better than/superior to in a moral sense rather than just a qualification sense), although there is nothing inherently wrong with it...after all, people do want to know that have indeed gained the skill.

        Sounds like the Pony Club was a great experience for the kids who chose it!

  •  This sounds very touchy-feely to me (4+ / 0-)

    And I love reading about it!  Whole-language philosophy is the articulation of how I have felt all along about learning communities.  Starting tomorrow, our new community school will have 14 year-olds right next door to 3 year olds.  The possibilities are very positive right about now.

    Thanks for keeping the idea alive.

    Propaganda is where someone uses the truth as a context for sneaking in their own bullshit.

    by jcrit on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:43:15 AM PDT

    •  What and where is your school? (4+ / 0-)

      Always interested in the details of new schools.

      Not sure what is striking you as touchy-feely...maybe the fact alone of respecting the unique learning process of each person is something you would call touchy-feely?

      •  It is a Navajo Community School (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt

        Located in the Navajo Nation in Rough Rock, AZ, Rough Rock Community School has been in existence since 1965, but the "old" building had to go due to asbestos.  The mission of RRCS is unique- it is to integrate Navajo language and culture with mainstream subjects.  This is a continual struggle, but one which the people want to do.  This school receives federal funding, unlike the state schools in Navajoland, which are struggling under the burden of sharply reduced funding as well as insufferable English-only laws, which the US Dept. of Civil Rights refuses to do anything to remedy.

        Anyone interested in learning more about Rough Rock school, visit here:  Rough Rock Community School.  

        Propaganda is where someone uses the truth as a context for sneaking in their own bullshit.

        by jcrit on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 03:07:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  @#!%* Bureaucracy! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt

          Talk about repressive.  We should be doing everything possible to preserve languages...it doesn't undermine teaching English as well.  Let me know where to sign a petition if you do one!

          •  Blessingway (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kurt

            Navajo culture is really way more mature than mainstream AZ culture (whatever that is).  This is shown in the way elderly folks are respected and cared for.  It is also a matrilineal society, which is based upon true equality of the sexes for its very existence.

            My formal complaint is on file.  The jist of it is found here.

            Hopefully, there will be a critical mass of additional complaints that will cause them to act.

            Meanwhile, we need to change how public schools are becoming places of incarceration rather than education.

            Propaganda is where someone uses the truth as a context for sneaking in their own bullshit.

            by jcrit on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 05:36:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Best of luck (0+ / 0-)

              to you in this fight.  It's ridiculous that it even is a fight.  I'm ignorant about the how the laws work with respect to what is governed by federal/state law as opposed to tribal law but you'd think there would be more autonomy and choice here.  It's a shame there don't seem to be the resources to be able have a completely independent (private?) Navajo school.

      •  Oh- and about the other thing (0+ / 0-)

        That was a funny; in the past, that was the language the McGraw-Hill crowd used to disparage child-centered learning in their run-up to that horrible NCLB law.  I've been mocking critics of learner-based schools for a generation.  It's kinda like the way the Right belittles health care by calling it Obamacare today.  They have an old playbook.

        Propaganda is where someone uses the truth as a context for sneaking in their own bullshit.

        by jcrit on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 03:15:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Got it... (0+ / 0-)

          Wasn't sure how you meant it, but that makes sense.  I don't hear that phrase so much now, but there's plenty of criticism and misunderstanding around "letting" "children" "do what they want to do."  No understanding of internal motivation and organic learning.

  •  The holy rolls have no problem home schooling (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Food Gas Lodging, jcrit, kurt

    their darlings to believe the world is 6K years old, women are to be submissive (Xian Sharia) and whatever screwed up notions they may also effect.
    We never fight fire with fire. Where are the liberal home schoolers? Everybody's out of goddamned work, why not get that liberal agenda going and teach kids some civics and human kindness and empathy toward those less fortunate, as opposed that phony anti-Jesus prosperity bullshit. Gah.

    Can't eat the flag. That's for sure.
    Kossack Lightbulb 7-2-11

    by OleHippieChick on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:20:53 PM PDT

    •  We liberal homeschoolers are here. (7+ / 0-)

      Sometimes I think we fly below the radar a bit because our ideas of child-rearing are pretty far outside the mainstream. As we were discussing above, trusting your children to lead their own path can be scary. Well meaning adults quiz our kids to see if they are learning anything. Others are shocked that we are allowed to raise our kids this way.

      "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

      by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:30:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the whackjob anti-intellectual (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Food Gas Lodging, Renee, kurt

        rollers' ideas aren't outside the mainstream? :-P
        I'd love to see well-meaning adults quizzing the little rollers and Jesus campers to see if they're learning anything real.

        Can't eat the flag. That's for sure.
        Kossack Lightbulb 7-2-11

        by OleHippieChick on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 12:50:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, yeah, but they are also getting drilled (3+ / 0-)

          hard in the three r's so they perform better on those sorts of examinations than my kids do. They look like they aren't being educationally neglected because they are beyond grade level, learning in the same format that school kids learn and over-performing. My kids know a lot of stuff, but they aren't interested in performing for people, and their knowledge is not structured the way we all think of knowledge being structured (3rd grade fluency at reading! 4th grade fractions!)

          "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

          by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 01:50:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  and often the first (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Renee

        question or comment is, well, you test them, don't you?

        Despite people in other contexts complaining about testing in schools, the mentality that those tests are necessary to education is so ingrained that people cannot imagine allowing education to go on in homes without testing "to ensure that learning is really taking place."

        People are usually pretty shocked when they find out that here in Kentucky there is no testing requirement for homeschoolers.

        And I'll add that schooled kids quiz homeschoolers equally.  My kids probably got quizzed more by schooled kids than by adults.  

        •  Say more if you would about school kids... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Renee

          quizzing your kids.

          FYI... there is no testing of homeschooled kids by the state in California either.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 09:23:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  quizzing-- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Renee

            they'd say things like "do you know how to multiple by 4's?" or whatever was on the kids' mind from their own schooling.  It was annoying but my kids got used to it and dealt with it okay.  My son is home just now and he says "All they'd ever ask me is 'what's 2 +2?'  He said it didn't bother him much, he'd just say '4" and they'd move on.  I think girls did it more with my daughter, though, and I remember her complaining about it from time to time.  

            I do remember a reverse situation one time.  One of the kids had been required in 2nd grade to do some project about American Presidents.  She was not happy about the project and was talking about it. She had had to turn in something about, maybe, 20 different Presidents with a picture and some simple information about each one.

            The kids were in the back seat and I was driving.  I asked her who some of the Presidents were she had used in her project.  She could only remember one.  My unschooled kids, who had never had any "assignments on Presidents," started chiming in listing  a pretty good number, maybe 10 or 12.  A good illustration of how trying to make people learn something can be counterproductive.  

            •  Huh. I think we weren't around that many (0+ / 0-)

              schooled kids maybe. We don't live in a neighborhood with lots of kids their age, just one family. And while they were around schooled kids at their martial arts studio, they had so many homeschooled kids around them that they mainly played with them. It's interesting to think about them quizzing the kids.

              "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

              by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:12:12 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Leslie... thanks for sharing... (0+ / 0-)

              As unschooler John Holt said, "The good students forget the material after the test!"

              Our kids were schooled in their younger years and unschooled in their older youth.  I know they went thru various incarnations of their "elevator speech" to friends about what they did all day and what they were "studying".  At times they were "playing games on the computer all day" in a manner of speaking, tho for them that turned out to be a very rich learning experience.  See my piece "Unschooling rather than Highschooling" if you are interested.

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 07:30:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, people are deeply shocked when I tell them (0+ / 0-)

          there are no assessment tests. They want the government to be overseeing me. When I say that no one wants them to succeed more than I do so I'm doing a pretty thorough job they just look at me blankly sometimes.

          I never get it when people can't understand that I can tell when they know something. Weird.

          But did you ever get the how are they going to learn how to stand in line question? We all got that one a lot. It was amusing.

          "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

          by Renee on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 11:14:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, but I got the boss one (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Renee

            How are they going to learn to work for a boss who will make demands on them that they will have to do whether they like it or not...there's another diary!

            •  Oh yeah. I've had the similar one which boils (0+ / 0-)

              down to a rant that life isn't fun and we are spoiling them. That one makes me sad.

              Also my mom gets rather upset that their penmanship isn't better.

              "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." - President George W. Bush, February 24, 2001

              by Renee on Mon Aug 15, 2011 at 07:33:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If you have the skills that kids could learn... (0+ / 0-)

                in a more participatory, more partnership and more democratic sort of education venue, then those kids are more likely to be able to successfully negotiate their work environment to their liking.  Our kids have developed those skills and both now work in very favorable job environments.

                Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                by leftyparent on Tue Aug 16, 2011 at 12:31:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  or how are they going (0+ / 0-)

              to learn about competition since that is so important? (lol).  That was from someone I went to HS with that was a car dealer.  I did point out that as a speech-language pathologist competition was really not exactly something that was intrinsic to success in my work.  

    •  I hear your frustration (5+ / 0-)

      I'm not happy either about the content of fundamentalist homeschooling but if I want the freedom to homeschool my kids then they have to have that freedom too.  Freedom is messy this way, isn't it.

    •  freedom (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OleHippieChick, kurt

      It seems like for some people the only freedom they want is to be free to be repressive.  They do not belong in government service, neither as a congressperson nor as a dog-catcher, and definitely not as an educator.

      Propaganda is where someone uses the truth as a context for sneaking in their own bullshit.

      by jcrit on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 03:22:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The eye of the beholder (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OleHippieChick, kurt

        I agree with you, but I know that some people I label as repressive see themselves as...how can I put this... maintaining needed control for a civilized society?  Of course there is a continuum all the way to outrageous...but I'm now viewing a lot of what most people see as legitimate adult control over children to be repressive.

        This is a messy area in a democracy as well...there is plenty of outright repression/oppression/racism, etc. to work to change, but there is also that line where it is less clear.

  •  Kahn Academy...self paced on line learning. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leslie in KY, kurt

    http://www.khanacademy.org/

    Watch the clip.   Bill Gates seems to approve.

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 04:21:19 PM PDT

    •  Self directed learning resource (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leema

      I'm surprised to see Gates, given his support of testing/ accountability and high stakes testing.  But I'm glad to see he is supporting something that is a resource for self directed learning.  I'm also a bit surprised that he comes off to me as seeming to imply that this is something new...there have been lots of online learning resources developing over the past years.  They need to improve, so Kahn may have developed something better than before in terms of how people like to use the content/site.

      The revolutionary part to me is if a shift happens in terms of assessment and people wake up to the fact that we can self-assess our learning...when we are truly engaged and choosing our learning, we naturally want to know how we are doing and seek out ways to know that.  An aspect I didn't get into in this diary...

      •  there's an article on Khan in Wired Mag. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leema

        that filled me in pretty well. Khan has really done something unique because he has some unique teaching talents himself.  Basically he knows a lot about a lot of subject areas and is good at explaining things in a way that helps others understand.

          And he seems to have, on his own, developed something of an unschooling philosophy.  He started making the videos just to help a relative who was struggling with some content and needed tutoring but started seeing how others could benefit.   He is  not concerned with reforming education in helping schools, but in simply providing tools for learners to self-educate.  And he is thinking of opening up his own school with mixed age groupings.  

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