25 August 2008

Ideal School?

If you couldn't homeschool or send your child to private school, what would the ideal school be like?

I'd like school to be year-round with lots of little breaks rather than have children go crazy for months on end, only to later find themselves dragging in monotony later in the year. I'd also have school cover academic subjects only, and last only through fifth grade.

I'm really racking my brain, but I honestly think I haven't used any of the education I received much after the fifth grade. Sure, I learned several other things and I can use that information, but what I mean is that the major processes of learning are in place around then. I know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. I can read a map tolerably well. I can read and construct a sentence.

Since I'm not a physicist, I don't need the specialized science and math training. Ditto for dog trainer knowledge while we're at it. But I think in addition to saving lots of money, it would be nice if schools ended 'round about fifth grade or further subdivided into specialty schools. It pains me to see my autistic son, G, who is in special ed, struggle in classes that he really is never going to use later on. The schools seem to be required to squeeze every child into some college prep class. G can fool himself for now, but that's not for him... it just isn't. He can't even read my blog posts with encouragement, I'm sorry to say.

It would have been far more helpful to teach the child a little about finance charges, checkbooks and the like. G's particular manifestation of autism makes it difficult for *me* to teach him at this late stage as the differences between mom and teacher are solidified in his brain.

I've noticed a real trend toward technology as well in the public schools, and it's a trend I'm not sure I support. D, who is a computer programmer, does. But you know, he only began to use computers in college and turned out just fine. Do kindergarteners really need to click on "A" for apple? I'm thinking a stick and some dirt, just like I learned to write. And it was good enough for Jesus, you know? Hey, that's another thing. I've noticed in Christian circles a real trend toward finding out how things were in Bible times and then trying to do that. The thing I don't get about that is that the Pharisees were the educated ones and are we really trying to emulate them? Just wondering.


  1. I didn't use a computer until I was in college too. Back then, calculators were required. Now engineering students are required to have computers.

  2. Well, and I'm thinking technology changes so fast, it's a waste to spend money on this during grade school, etc. They can at least wait until high school or more specialized classes. Like, when the kid has the math concepts down.

    Then again, I'm old-fashioned and like to do this thing called "not spend wastefully."

  3. Hey, my Ditz agrees with you. She ain't learned nothin' since 5th grade. Ouch!

    I also have a piece of information for your Aussie sider guys. I'm from Sydney originally, home of the funnel web spider. If a funnel web falls in to water, say your swimming pool, NEVER scoop them out with your bare hands. They can live for up to 3 days under water by forming an air bubbl;e around themselves. Just thought I'd share.

  4. Thanks, ganeida!!

    I'm sure Ditz has learned plenty since fifth grade LOL!! I only meant the major processes that would enable her to learn for herself if she wished to are now in place.


    Nope, Mrs. C is not advocating everyone dropping out after fifth grade if they don't want. More that, hey, if we educate so badly to begin with, why can't we just concentrate on the area up through fifth grade and let kids repeat until they get it right?

  5. Oh, not "we" like "everyone." I just meant in institutional learning in "general."

    Whoo, good morning. Still waking up.

  6. I read this on bloglines several days ago and have pondered it while falling asleep, taking a bath... And, I still don't know. Which is pretty bad since I am homeschooling my child specifically because I didn't like what the school had to offer.

    But, some of my thoughts ~

    First, my ideal school would have smaller, more structured classrooms. The school offered Marissa a smaller, more structured class, a locked Emotional-Behavioral Disorder class. That's not what I am talking about. I have come to know that Marissa's friends will always be people who have behavioral and emotional problems. Other people don't get her. But, Marissa learns what "normal" behavior looks like in a teen by mimicing others. I would appreciate it if she were exposed to children with appropriate behaviors too.

    Prior to leaving the work force to teach my own child, I taught nursing. I have used some of what I learned beyond 5th grade. I am not sure I agree with you about children subdividing after the 5th grade. It sounds like kids would have to be ready to declare a major at 10. I didn't know what I wanted to be in the 5th grade and I don't know how easy it would be to transition to a science and technology track if you had chosen at the mature age of 10 to go to the drama and modeling school because that is where your friends were going.

    I was disappointed in the qaulity of the education the students I taught got prior to entering my class. Their attitude about learning the test and checking off a box interfered with their ability to safely provide care to their patients. Because, their self appointed goal was to learn what was on the test so that they could have a piece of paper that allowed them to get a well paying job and then they were going to just do what the doctor said without using brain cell one!

    I suppose in my ideal school education through high school would be way more generalized. Really, when our kids have to have 7 different teachers throughout the day so that the teachers can specialize in one subject we have gone way beyond what an average person needs to get by. Besides, I had to take algebra, chemistry, biology, etc. in college again. The college did not accept my high school transcripts. So, after learning the obligatory basic reading, writing a general math, I would like to see a liberal arts education for all. What? Did I hear that you say you don't need to know what Aristotle wrote to construct a house? True. However, I think that an education in liberal arts teaches a person how to learn and how to think... skills anyone can use to learn dog grooming, knitting, rocket science or brain surgery. I suppose since not everyone will agree with me, the school can have non-mandatory electives in rocket science, basket weaving or band. Or, better yet. Why don't we allow those kids who are really interested in science and technology to take college classes at local colleges or on-line?

    Less time spent on mandatory public education ~ more time developing individual talents and interests.

  7. I agree, Julie, that 10 is a bit young to declare a major LOL! I was thinking more of the obviously disabled child like G who, barring a miracle, is NEVER really going to read well, but he can do some math. Do we have to shunt him in special ed classes and teach to the MAP test year after year so the school looks good on NCLB?

    I wish for classes on "how to balance your checkbook" or a special class titled, "DON'T BUY IT! You need that money for rent." I find I don't even get around to philosophical arguments about curriculum choices and reading materials with this kid because so little sinks in in this area. I've opted him out of the sex part of health and otherwise am not worried in that area.

    Patrick, however, is a freshman in high school and taking a college-level course and gifted and honours courses. I think children like Patrick you can put almost anywhere and they'll be OK, though obviously some places educate better than others.

    I keep wondering about the ideal school system, and I think in terms of advanced science and math, some children SHOULD be left behind so they can be trained to be self-sufficient. Perhaps I feel this way because unlike Marissa, G has a low IQ. He's very sensitive about being "retarded," and I sincerely wish to throttle whichever people at school have been calling him this, because he sure didn't hear it from me.

    But sorry, Aristotle is pretty well out for this guy.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)