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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Knowledge is so much more than filling in blanks…

Years ago, when my oldest was attending a Catholic school for 1st grade, I was annoyed that in many ways it was not much different from the local public schools. 

Same math books. 

Same way of teaching spelling. 

Same issues with bullies.

I wanted a better education for my child.  I don’t think the problem with public education tends to be a high student to teacher ratio or the lack of a Christian environment. 

There’s something wrong at the core of the system, including how learning is defined and evaluated.  And if that’s the case, I don’t see how you can claim to provide a superior educational experience while using the same materials and techniques.

And yet here I am, teaching my kids in my own home, using very similar materials and techniques. 

When did we become a society that equates knowledge with being able to fill in the blanks?

This picture is by Peter (age 8).


To be fair to myself---I loathe canned comprehension questions and fill in the blank worksheets.  I don’t tend to use either much.  I much prefer the real, organic discussion that naturally comes from learning something together and then talking about it. 

I love to see the kind of creative thinking in that picture above much more than a correctly marked up multiple choice test.

And I’m truly happy when my kids make unexpected connections outside of the “classroom” and use the knowledge they have gained without getting any hints from me. 

Because it’s not some shortcut they have memorized, but something they own within themselves. 

And while it can be super annoying, I even like it when they question everything they read, because they are thinking for themselves rather than expecting me to fill their noggins with information.

This is how it should be for all kids.

This is the gift of learning.

But there are certain facts that I can’t escape.  I cannot escape the legal requirements in my state, nor can I escape the fact that those requirements come from the very system that I am trying to buck.

And I cannot escape how pervasive the accepted educational model has become in our culture as a whole. 

It directly influences homeschool materials. 

And it influences how we relate to one another. People will quiz your kids to see if they know what they are supposed to know.  Really?  How about just having an intelligent conversation?

When did we become a society that equates knowledge with being able to fill in the blanks?

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  1. What a great (and timely) post! I so agree about comprehension questions and fill in the blank worksheets. I much prefer to use discussion as a way to learn about the material. Seeing your kids make those connections for themselves makes all the hard work worth the effort!

  2. They are are continually surprising me, too---learning comes unexpectedly sometimes. ;)


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