PDA

View Full Version : Do you think public school is "easy?"



Avalon
10-10-2013, 11:23 PM
I've been wrestling with this idea lately, especially when I see or hear conversations about getting their child ready for high school or middle school. I have this general impression that schools set the bar pretty low (after all, isn't EVERYONE supposed to be able to pass and get a diploma?) My opinion is based on my own recollections of high school and what I see my niece/nephew and homestay students doing. If you read the government website, it all sounds good, but when I look at the work these teens are doing and the decent marks they're getting, it just makes me think "what is the big deal?"

This all feeds into my being a fairly laid-back homeschooler. My daughter is approaching high school age, and I find myself wondering if I'm missing something. I have a few goals for her (spend some time on essay-writing, keep plugging away at math, read good books), and she has a few goals, too.

Neither of my kids is a genius, both just regular bright kids with no complicated problems. Should I be pushing them harder?

RachelC
10-10-2013, 11:44 PM
Yes, I think public school is easy. As a former student (ha!) and teacher, yes, yes, it is easy. Anyone could learn everything they needed to graduate in like two years (for example, if a person was found in the forest and begun their formal education at any age past 12; or in the case of immigrants who know no English when they arrive here and yet manage to learn everything and outperform most of their American peers).

One thing I have definitely come to believe is if you wait until the time is right, the person is mature and motivated enough, a lot can be learned and accomplished very quickly that would take forEVER if started too early. I believe we have talked about that on here before.

Some homeschooling parents are worried about their child not being ready for the expectations of public school, not necessarily the content- homework, tests, dumb busywork, meaningless assignments, etc. That could be a concern depending on the child's personality. But if you are skipping public school altogether and going straight to college, or taking just a few courses at a high school, I think most homeschoolers do fine. I am part of a giant homeschooling community right now (Mormons in Utah), and those are the two paths most take, and they are very successful.

farrarwilliams
10-10-2013, 11:48 PM
Interesting question.

Let me start by saying I have no clue about Canada - the homework levels, the expectations, etc. - so I can only speak about the US.

Obviously it depends a good bit on your school and school system. Some schools have so many kids who are disadvantaged at home that I think to any child coming out of a family with adequate funds and educational levels, then it will be "easy." However, many schools aren't like that at all - they have a mix of kids or a lot of kids with plenty of means and smart, educated parents. I know that things like NCLB were supposed to level the playing field (and CC is adding to that in expectations) but realistically, there's a gap.

It also depends on what you mean by "easy." If you mean are the standards high for kids to be thinking and learning more... Well, that depends on your perspective and more on that in a moment. If you mean in terms of output and attitude, no, in general, I think they're very hard actually. Schools ask kids to do a LOT, especially in the early grades. A lot of learning, very fast. Schools now ask kids to do things in the early grades that I, in the gifted program, was never asked to be able to do. And then later on, in middle school especially, kids are asked to do an insane amount of work - some of it meaningful, some of it not, but the quantity is very high. I don't think it's easy at all. Not by any means. Even if it's just test prep (which it is sometimes), that can be hard too. If nothing else, it can be anxiety-producing.

In terms of the level of challenge within the work - Does all that work make kids smarter, make them learn more, grow more, etc? I think the jury is out. It so depends on your perspective of what sort of challenge kids should have and what curriculum and style of teaching the school is using. They don't teach a number of things that some homeschoolers think are very important - cursive, sentence diagramming, grammar in general, historical dates, etc. And they do things, especially writing, in a completely different way from most homeschoolers. Does that equate to more rigor? I think it depends on how you look at it. Certainly, the goals are there, but sometimes the execution and curricula is so poorly made that the results are abysmal, despite all the work. Certainly by comparison to other countries, the US is not doing so hot. On the other hand, I think a lot of homeschoolers are kidding themselves that "nothing" happens in school all day or that anything they do is enough if they want their kids to have a superior education to kids in ps.

Crabby Lioness
10-11-2013, 02:50 AM
I spent tonight reading over my homeschooling blog for stuff to link to my new blog. I came across posts like the one where our 17yo babysitter who got an academic scholarship didn't read as well as my 6yo, or my husband's science class that had never heard of Napoleon and weren't too sure about France, or the high school science student who had never had it explained to him that the moon went around the Earth.

Do I need to say more?

Heidi M
10-11-2013, 05:13 AM
I think a lot more comes into play than just what a school's offerings are and the quality of the teachers. One of the things that irks me most (and there are many things) about NCLB is that none of it seems to consider the whole child. If children come to school hungry, tired, abused, or disabled in some way, I don't care what kind of curriculum you use, those children are simply not ready to learn. In response, it seems that in the typical, reactive way, we (general) remediate the curriculum and try to catch as many as we can of middle performing students in a broad net and, as a result, the definition of "competency" becomes broad. Some kids fall outside the net completely. And then there's the issues that Crabby Lioness brought up. There's so much that kids just do not know and I think one of the benefits of homeschooling for us, is that we can stop if we need to, to make sure there are no glaring gaps in knowledge. If it isn't taught or discussed, how can they know? When the focus is on testing as the sole means of assessment...a lot gets skipped and that, to me, is negligent.

Another thing to consider is that some of the brain structures are not even developed yet in adolescents, so some the expectations for learning are just impossible. It's not that they can't learn and retain the information, it's just that they can't do it...YET.

dbmamaz
10-11-2013, 10:21 AM
I think there is huge variation between different schools and different states. I'm not convinced the common core will change that any. My daughter was in advanced classes in high school which demanded a large amount of work, and if she couldnt keep a B all semester she was not invited back to the advanced classes. But then she went to community college where kids in the pre-calc class did not know how to do math with fractions. The community college drew from a much broader area.

I try to keep believing that kids have to be themselves and at some point take some responsibility for who and what they want to be. If they decide they want to do something and need college to do that, they will choose to step up to the challenge.

idk, i read an article yesterday about a mom with a special needs kid who she pushed and pushed and pushed to get all the work done for advanced classes despite his disability, and he ended up taking a 'nap' year after high school because he was so exhausted - made me worry I'd done the wrong thing by being more laid back - but really, is there only one right way to be in this world? idk.

I push my kids a little, and I push myself, too, and thats all I've got.

Teri
10-11-2013, 01:00 PM
I don't necessarily think it is easy to have to come home from being in school for 7-8 hours a day and then spend 3-5 hours longer on more work.

My oldest went all the way through public school and took a lot of AP classes in high school. They were not easy either.

PetVet
10-11-2013, 02:04 PM
our experience with northern ontario public schools: if your child is of average intelligence, it's easy. if your child is above average, it's mind numbingly boring.

i don't suppose it's easy for children of below average intelligence and/or from difficult circumstances, and as it's public school, those are the kids they are most concerned with teaching/helping. i don't have a problem with that, but without a more challenging private option available, we fell into homeschooling. i make sure it's not easy!

MrsJadeDragon
10-11-2013, 02:17 PM
My two cents is that public schools are hugely variable in "ease". The standards may look easy but I think a lot of the difficulty lies in how much is covered. When I was in high school, we had different class levels for standard subjects. I remember petitioning more than once *myself* to get into the honors level classes because I was so frustrated at the cursory level of review. (Nerd from the very beginning!) The honors level classes were far more challenging and more satisfying intellectually. Of course, this was nearly 20 years ago so things may have changed drastically but I know that most high schools in my area still have more challenging classes for those students that need them.

At the same time, I don't think that holds a candle to individualized instruction. Of course, homeschool can be just as "easy" and cover only the basics, especially if it's a subject that may be required but not beloved by a student.

We homeschool because our home school district sucks; if were to be able to move into a better performing (read: better funded) school district, that we'd likely switch her into public school. The notion that all public school is easy is just as much a broad, sweeping generalization that homeschoolers are backwards fundies. I've seen public schools that are very much able to accommodate typical learners, special needs and/or gifted ones equally well.

CrazyCatWoman
10-11-2013, 02:34 PM
It really does depend on the courses that the student is taking, and where they are taking them.

I did College Prep classes and I must say that 11th grade English made me work harder than any other class until I was a junior in college.

My brother managed to get himself put in general ed, and did no homework his senior year and somehow graduated. (My mom was tired of fighting him and the school - he was capable of more.)

I went to a small, private college, that was a step or two above a community college with expectations. But most of the students were from private high schools. We had a writing requirement, I passed. Most of the private school students did not. They had to take a remedial writing class.

My high school literally put kids in tracks in early elementary school. If you were African American, you were expected to work at the Campbell Soup factory. It was ALL that they trained you for - following directions and doing repetitive tasks. If you were white, you were supposed to work at Dixon Valve. If your families were farmers, you did the ag program. If your parents were professionals - doctors, lawyers, etc., then you got put in college prep. I got put in because they had no clue what my step father did and my mom insisted that they test me and I scored very high. This is how it was when I was in high school, when I went back to substitute teach after college and I suspect, still is.

MrsJadeDragon
10-11-2013, 03:02 PM
My high school literally put kids in tracks in early elementary school. If you were African American, you were expected to work at the Campbell Soup factory. It was ALL that they trained you for - following directions and doing repetitive tasks. If you were white, you were supposed to work at Dixon Valve. If your families were farmers, you did the ag program. If your parents were professionals - doctors, lawyers, etc., then you got put in college prep. I got put in because they had no clue what my step father did and my mom insisted that they test me and I scored very high. This is how it was when I was in high school, when I went back to substitute teach after college and I suspect, still is.

This scares and angers me like you wouldn't believe!! I'm curious what part of the US this was?

hockeymom
10-11-2013, 03:38 PM
This scares and angers me like you wouldn't believe!! I'm curious what part of the US this was?

Its probably common enough anywhere. When DS attended K and 1 in eastern Canada, kids were tracked from kindergarten on. It was very clear who was expected be a truck driver and who would get extra attention. The teachers weren't at all embarrassed or ashamed to talk candidly about it.

Avalon
10-11-2013, 03:52 PM
The more I think about it, the more I think I just need to prepare the kids for university as opposed to high school. To me that means a high reading level, research skills, writing skills, and a fair degree of self-discipline (plus the specific pre-req's for whatever subject they intend to study.) They might go to high school, but I can't wrap my head around what that means.

A basic high school diploma is practically worthless, in my opinion. It is possible to get a decent education in our system. Lots of kids do, but it depends on what courses they take and how much effort they put into it.

dbmamaz
10-11-2013, 04:46 PM
i'm having a bit of a panic over all that. I cant tell if i've taken it easy on my son because of his anxiety and issues, or because i'm lazy and overly optimistic? My daughter is refusing to believe that she needs a college degree to get a job (my mom has been fighting with her over it). My son sometimes is showing more responsibility - and then he'll have a bad day and beg and whine to get out of his work. I have no idea if I've ruined my kids or not lol or if i'm just pmsing . . . or both . . .

hockeymom
10-11-2013, 05:15 PM
It's crazy scary to think about how to prepare our kids. My son definitely wants to go the university route, which around here mostly means small private schools--expensive and exclusive. How do I prepare him to gain admission to a school where most of the kids have gone the prep school route (and who therefore have had a lot of guidance), or who have exceedingly impressive high school transcripts/resumes? Yikes. Can I do that better than the public high school? I honestly have no idea, and when I think about it too much it definitely sends me into a panic. I never, ever could have imagined thinking like this about a 10 year old's education.

I guess we can only do what's best for today, keeping an eye toward the future but not worrying about it too much. Intentional parents make a huge difference, whether our kids are in a BM school or at home.

dottieanna29
10-11-2013, 06:10 PM
It's going to depend a lot on the school, the area of the country, the student and probably a ton of other factors.

My oldest graduated from a high school that was considering very challenging. Expectations were high, they don't do class rankings because even the bottom third of the school was considered to be fairly advanced. People went broke renting houses in order to get into the school district and kids who went to very expensive private schools for K-8 would be put into this public high school. We do have a very good vo-tech as well so there were students who did 1/2 day at the high school and 1/2 day at the vo-tech.

My other two are pretty young but we are going to have to have high expectations if we want to give them the option of going to high school in our district.

farrarwilliams
10-11-2013, 07:59 PM
It's so hard to figure out how to prepare kids to compete and to figure out how to compare...

I mean, on the one hand, you've got a homework crisis and articles like the one where that dad did his daughter's homework and it included some insanely big assignments.

On the other hand, you've got polls shows the majority of Americans can't find Canada on a map and education studies showing that we're ranked really low on math and literacy scores for schoolkids.

As a homeschooler, the first makes you nervous, the second makes you complacent. Neither is a good place to be.

I guess, while it's hard, it's kind of a keep your eyes on your own work kind of thing. Comparisons are odious and all that.

halfpint
10-11-2013, 09:12 PM
My experience (as a student) was that while the material presented was easy to master, going through the steps of PS was HARD: getting up early, staying in a desk all day, busywork, lots of assignments to keep track of, homework, etc.

I am very glad that my prior HS experience had taught me that this grind was not the same as "education" and I made it out relatively unscathed.

MrsJadeDragon
10-11-2013, 09:36 PM
My experience (as a student) was that while the material presented was easy to master, going through the steps of PS was HARD: getting up early, staying in a desk all day, busywork, lots of assignments to keep track of, homework, etc.

I am very glad that my prior HS experience had taught me that this grind was not the same as "education" and I made it out relatively unscathed.

But yet that experience prepares much of us for the contemporary workforce -- getting up, commuting, sitting at a desk all day with busy work and lots of assignment... sounds a lot like my IT career.

Times and expectations of the workday are changing now, though. More white collar jobs are allowing telecommuting which means working from home for some and/or flexible schedules, with more emphasis towards critical thinking vs. busy work. Theoretically, homeschooled kids may fare better at these sorts of jobs? Sorry, total tangent.

dbmamaz
10-11-2013, 10:34 PM
Yeah, i worry about my boys ability to sit at a desk all day at work . ..

halfpint
10-11-2013, 11:30 PM
But yet that experience prepares much of us for the contemporary workforce -- getting up, commuting, sitting at a desk all day with busy work and lots of assignment... sounds a lot like my IT career.

Times and expectations of the workday are changing now, though. More white collar jobs are allowing telecommuting which means working from home for some and/or flexible schedules, with more emphasis towards critical thinking vs. busy work. Theoretically, homeschooled kids may fare better at these sorts of jobs? Sorry, total tangent.

You are absolutely right - the modern school system prepares kids to be worker bees, very much on purpose. The American public school system was designed to produce coal miners, and it was based on the Prussian system. If you're trying to raise coal miners, I think PS would do a good job. I'm trying to raise a tree climber, so I avoid it :)

crunchymum
10-12-2013, 12:44 AM
I agree with your idea that you should focus on what you want for your kids, and not pay too much attention to the high schools, other than to see what is required for university admission.
My oldest is bored to tears by some of his online classes offered through an ont school board, especially at the entry level grades (9 and 10) Classes for grade 11 have been a better fit for him but it is completely dependent on the teacher's ability to engage and challenge.

I'm stepping it up this year with my high schooler, not because of university admissions requirements or what the high schools are doing, but because he needs it. He needs the challenge, he needs to start stitching his skills together to engage in learning at a different level than he has been. He reads widely and has a great knowledge base but he's becoming somewhat complacent about his learning, in part because I have been complacent I think. I don't want him to just do what he needs to to pass high school - he's capable of much more and I think he'll feel better if he is challenged.

Heidi M
10-12-2013, 06:15 AM
Yeah, i worry about my boys ability to sit at a desk all day at work . ..

That reminds me of one encounter we had when we were first homeschooling, probably year two or three. We were at a store checking out and a woman asked my son the inevitable question, "Don't you have school today?" To which my son answered, "We have school everyday." Then I explained that we were homeschoolers and her next question was...I kid you not..."Well, how will they learn how to socialize and wait in line and things like that?" After I recovered from the shock of the question I replied..."Well, he's speaking to you and I'll be damned if he's not doing a bang up job of standing in line right now so I guess we can take the rest of the day off!" I'm not usually so flip with the stranger but it was too weird. Seriously? I believe, even without formal training, homeschoolers can master the art of sitting and waking early (though I have one that HATES it) and can manage to sit and do what they need to do minus the mind-numbing monotony of crowd control routines in schools. I have observed schools and teachers try their very best to engage and challenge the students who need it based on their ability and strengths, but when you attempt to educate en mass like that, sometimes it's like herding cats and that's when things go downhill.

dbmamaz
10-12-2013, 10:50 AM
My 17 yo is finally more able to get his work done independently without complaining, but i KNOW he's taking frequent fan fiction / buzzfeed breaks. he has a lot of issues, though

Accidental Homeschooler
10-12-2013, 10:57 AM
My high school literally put kids in tracks in early elementary school. If you were African American, you were expected to work at the Campbell Soup factory. It was ALL that they trained you for - following directions and doing repetitive tasks. If you were white, you were supposed to work at Dixon Valve. If your families were farmers, you did the ag program. If your parents were professionals - doctors, lawyers, etc., then you got put in college prep. I got put in because they had no clue what my step father did and my mom insisted that they test me and I scored very high. This is how it was when I was in high school, when I went back to substitute teach after college and I suspect, still is.

Ah, that brings back memories. It was the same when I was in school except that they at least waited until high school.

dbmamaz
10-12-2013, 11:18 AM
See, i wonder if I was just oblivious? i dont THINK our school was that bad? But maybe i'm wrong? I was in private school from 5th through 8th, and came back to the high school in the gifted program. I cant think of any african americans who were in the gifted program, tho there were some in the honors class (i took both honors and gifted classes, depending). I kinda wondered where the kids in the remedial and vocational programs came from - i dont think I ever met any. I mean, there must have been some in my gym class? Idk, it was a pretty big district. And there was one kid in the gifted program (and his siblings) who was bused in from the 'bad' part of town, but he was white.

why does bused have only one s?

crochetmama
10-12-2013, 03:26 PM
I am taking online classes at a community college and I can't believe the stuff that people post on the discussion boards. There is so much they don't know. People who supposedly had to pass high school to go to college. Of course my area is kind of known for just getting kids through the system. I have a friend who made it to 11th grade but can't read. I went to high school at a really good school in PA and you really did have to give a decent effort to pass. Our classes were much smaller than the high school I attended for a few years in California. I was doing things in 10th grade in California that I had done in 5th grade at my school in PA. I guess maybe it depends on the school? Things might be different now though?

quabbin
10-12-2013, 04:37 PM
I think the *content* is terribly oversimplified (and full of gaps) and therefore easy, except in the highest tracks and/or excellent schools.
The workload quantity is easier for schools to make challenging.

This is based on my experience, which is US/East Coast only.

farrarwilliams
10-12-2013, 10:34 PM
See, i wonder if I was just oblivious? i dont THINK our school was that bad? But maybe i'm wrong? I was in private school from 5th through 8th, and came back to the high school in the gifted program. I cant think of any african americans who were in the gifted program, tho there were some in the honors class (i took both honors and gifted classes, depending). I kinda wondered where the kids in the remedial and vocational programs came from - i dont think I ever met any. I mean, there must have been some in my gym class? Idk, it was a pretty big district. And there was one kid in the gifted program (and his siblings) who was bused in from the 'bad' part of town, but he was white.

why does bused have only one s?

Mine certainly wasn't. There was a racial and class element to the tracking, but you could also break outside of the tracking. There were options. There were electives. There was a lot of self-selecting. There was a core group of really talented, motivated African-American students in the top classes. When I taught high school in Virginia though, I was shocked at the racial disparities. I thought they would be better than when I had been in school, but they were actually worse. It was dispiriting to me as a teacher.

And I've been wondering about bused for years. Maybe because the double the f, l, and s rules are specific so they don't apply in other situations? Because it certainly seems like without a double s, the syllable division should be after the u, making it long, and it isn't.

BakedAk
10-13-2013, 12:43 AM
School was "hard" for me, but not so much because of the academics (my grades were ok - top 10% of my class of 450). I put much more effort into fitting in than doing my best. People praised my work, which made me feel like a fraud, since I did most of it in homeroom, after putting on my make up. Freshman year of college was not easy either - and again it was the social aspect that made it difficult. I remember my first English class - we had to write a short essay, trade it with a neighbor and grade their work. The girl I traded with had written a run-on sentence fragment instead of a paragraph, misused their and there, and used apostrophes inappropriately. My pen bled all over her paper. Then the prof had us return the papers to their authors. I was aghast. I was so embarrassed about my harshness, I skipped about a month of classes. Then I was embarrassed that I'd missed so many classes...never did turn in a paper. F. Had to take the class over my sophomore year. Sometimes "hard" has nothing to do with academics. (This also goes to show that the "socialization" one gets in public school is overrated!)

kadylaha
10-13-2013, 08:29 PM
We can be honest here, right? I think public schools are more "stupid" than "easy".

For example: The schools are stuffed with terrible, expensive schoolbooks that bore the kids to tears, and teach nothing they actually care about-- and yet, no one can CHANGE them, and ask for NEW books, because such a decision has to be made by committees that exist in a realm beyond time... it takes decades to actually get new school books to the kids. Easy? No. Stupid? Yes.

Or how about the "sight words" system of reading instruction? The one where preschoolers are expected to memorize whole words right from the start, without ever learning about phonics? Don't teach them that "r" makes a ruhh sound; teach them that this word is called "rhinoceros." Now make the poor kid 10,000 more words to memorize. Don't ever teach any phonic rules so he can, uh, learn to sound things out or anything. Oh, and by the way, the kid won't be able to read any words except those he's memorized. Kids taught this way frequently fail at learning to read. BUT, since the 1920's when "sight words" caught on as a teaching tool, it was all but impossible to get them out of the damn classrooms until about 1990. Easy? No. Stupid, yes.

As for the work itself, I think the public schools make some things that should be instinctive and pleasurable (like reading) mind-numbing and discouraging by constantly thinking up new ways to boon-doggle the minds of kids who are learning to read. We can't JUST LET THEM READ A DAMN BOOK IN THE CORNER, heck no! Why, if we let the kids do that, it will make learning to read too simple! No one will buy any "reading readiness" materials, no one will buy any "sight word" cards; no one will buy all the latest books written about how to teach reading; no one will have to stand there getting paid to make the kids do useless worksheets that claim to be "reading readiness" but in reality serve only to KEEP THEM AWAY FROM ACTUAL BOOKS. Why, the textbook industry would lose money, people would lose their jobs!

Easy? No. Stupid? Yes.

JinxieFox
10-14-2013, 11:26 AM
I think whether or not public school is easy depends on the child - that it's one of those "YMMV" situations.

My ex-husband placed my son in public school (because the ex's wife is super prejudiced against homeschooling) and I thought the entire thing was... Well, what kadylaha said - stupid. Because of his birthdate, my son was placed one grade below where he was homeschooling, and learning stuff we'd done two to three years before that! *shakes head*

Now, my son wants to attend public school and that's fine. He's almost 11 and I'll respect his wishes. I admit, I know nothing about public school from a parental perspective, because I haven't head to deal with it yet. Maybe the one he'll attend here is quite good. I like the fact that it's only a 4-day week here in the teeny, tiny school district in which we reside. But I have bigger concerns, such as stupid assignments and teaching to the test...

Anyway, as far as the Department of Defense school in Germany my ex placed him in, I'm not at all impressed.

Starkspack
10-19-2013, 07:00 AM
My experience mirrors some of the above. The public schools I attended were decent to good, and the classes and teachers I encountered ranged from awful to truly excellent. The challenge level also varied. In my family, there were high expectations, and my sister and I were both overachievers. Still are. So I would suggest that it is totally situational - a highly motivated student will look for the knowledge in the face of poor instruction, if he/she really wants to learn the material. I think there is more concern about unmotivated students - how can we really "motivate" someone to want to learn? I'm of the opinion that you can't really motivate anyone to do anything. At best we can inspire - cause a spark of interest that might bring out the self motivation.

My approach to raising DD is rooted in this background - we have high expectations. Heck, isn't the statistic something like humans are estimated to use only 20% of their actual brainpower? :) So we instill in DD through our actions and words that learning is hugely important. And that it is fun and rewarding in itself. And that it will lead to having more choices and control over the career and life you choose to have.

If you ask DD, who mind you is only 5 so this is clearly subject to change, she'll tell you that she is going to do college online so she can live at home forever. :heart: Plus, I'm not firmly convinced that college is for everyone OR that it is even required to be successful in life. Sure, some professions require it, but haven't we all known people that have college degrees that are dumb as posts, and meanwhile we know plenty of brilliant, well-educated people without a college degree? I sure do.

So my approach to schooling is that more is better in these early years - I would rather over-prepare her so that more choices exist later. Plus I am just still of the opinion that we SHOULD know cursive, we SHOULD diagram sentences, we SHOULD have impeccable grammar, etc. It is all about instilling the love for learning, and instilling age-appropriate self-discipline-building skills. It is also (in my opinion) all about experimenting with different things/activities to help DD find things she is good at and/or passionate about.

I'm not going to force-feed any particular thing after a certain point just to do it, is what I'm trying to say. But there is something to be said about stick-to-itiveness that I think is another important life lesson - we don't all get to do ONLY what we love to do all day long, there will always be things we have to do that we absolutely hate, right? Part of life. Often requiring someone to continue to do something (e.g. not quitting after one lesson/session "because it is too hard") for a while leads to a passion, and what a great experience to overcome the difficulty and find out you CAN do something you assumed you can't!

Rocky
11-17-2013, 10:00 AM
kadylaha pretty much summed up what I was going to say. I don't think the public schools are easy at all, but it's not because they're necessarily academically rigorous. Mostly they're hard because of the monotony (worksheets, hours of homework, lack of freedom), the behavioral expectations (sit down and shut up or be punished), the incredible pace, and the learning everything out of order. When they teach first graders about MLK Jr., how is that supposed to make any sense? These kids don't even know what the USA is yet, so random information like this is just floating in space for them. Yet they'll be tested on it and expected to answer baffling multiple choice test questions about it. I think this is very difficult.

There are a lot of gaps in what they learn in public school, but there are gaps in every homeschooler's approach, too. A public school kid might know a ton about something the homeschool kid has never heard of, and vice versa. Some homeschoolers have their kids spend a lot of time memorizing bible verses and whatnot, so not all homeschools are especially good.

I have made a huge shift in thinking since my kids started school. I never wanted to homeschool and for a long time frowned on the whole idea. But when our public school turned out to be a nightmare, I started thinking more deeply. What is the purpose of education? Is it to learn to stand in line and sit quietly for hours? If it's to learn...learn what? When my older son was in public school for kindergarten and first grade, my husband and I were baffled to see that if he was struggling with something, the teachers would punt. We'd get a note saying we needed to help him with this or that. We had always assumed teachers would teach this stuff! So if we were expected to teach, fine, but why teach what someone else had decided was the important stuff? I didn't feel like sitting with my child and forcing him to learn boring, useless junk that the school had assigned.

The other thing that's hard about traditional/public school is the fact that they tend to ignore readiness. When my younger son was in public K, they were "teaching" him to write. What this meant was printing worksheets were to be filled out. Nevermind if you couldn't hold a pencil yet or didn't even know what those letters were for--you have to be able to write them, and write them well and fast. The school needed to step back and look at what they were doing to five-year-old children. These kids were being forced to do work they weren't ready to do (in some cases), or were being asked to do work without any help or guidance. My son was a stressed-out mess. So again, public school, even kindergarten, was hard. It's a high-pressure environment right from the get-go. When I was a kid, a five-year-old didn't even go to school for a full day, it was half-day. And when you were in school you did dress-up and fingerpainting.

My kids are young, so my experience is only with elementary. I don't know about middle and high school. I assume my kids will transition back into public school for high school? Who knows. For now, homeschool has solved all our problems. I pick the stuff that suits the kids and help them when they get stuck. It works great.

zcat
11-18-2013, 07:30 PM
I don't think attending public school is easy. I think the material covered in ps is not necessarily hard but the focus is on students passing a test instead of real understanding a lot of the time. I think ps kids have an incredibly heavy work load that does not really make them better educated. I think many ps kids are not being served well by the current standards and system.

It doesn't really matter if ps is easy or hard. I think as a homeschooler, you know what your child can do and what your goals and their goals are. If you feel they need to be challenged more or work harder to reach those goals then maybe you should be pushing harder. If you are happy with the level they are working then that is what you should stick with.

crunchynerd
11-24-2013, 10:43 PM
My personal memories that seem consistent with the experience of my DD's closest girlfriend, who goes to school, is that it's vacuous, grueling, and draining.

It's easy because you can go through your day with mind on autopilot, mechanically participating in stuff that doesn't require a lot of mental presence (or invite any, either).... but it's grueling to have your whole life in hurry-up-and-wait mode just like the military, where you get up at "O Dark Thirty" and have to hustle, to dress to a certain code (uniforms if you're lucky, but the cut-throat dress codes imposed by your peer group if you're not) and then arrive to eat institutional food in a hurry (most of the kids eat breakfast and lunch in school, and a great many also have institutional dinner at the after care programs, here), and be reprimanded if you engage in socializing when you're supposed to be in formation (paying attention). Being unable to think your own thoughts, pursue your own interests, discuss what's on your mind, but instead, having to jump when someone else says froggy, all day every day, is grueling.

Sitting all day, is draining. Being unable to get away from the constant pressure and noise of a whole lot of others, and the rules and regs surrounding every aspect of your life including when and how you eat and use the toilet, is a lot like what my husband described as the draining part of living in barracks.

So my guess is, it's easy (mind in neutral, work not challenging) grueling, and draining, all at once. I know little kids who have to be at the bus stop at 7, who don't get home til after 5 or later (because they bus directly to aftercare programs run by the state and YMCA), and then have homework. They have a worse life than stressed-out adult commuters working overtime and barely having time to eat, shower, and hit the sack before doing it all over again, because at least the adult commuters don't usually bring home a couple of hours of homework after their 12-hour day.

But I know it's not that bad for all kids, because there are kids who enjoy school, at least, so I hear. Still, I don't usually hear kids complaining about having to have school vacations, or cheering when the vacations are over.

Academically, I see some of what I would call insanely high standards on school websites, and I know for a fact that the kids going to the school are NOT "able to..." do half the lofty things they are claiming that any child will be able to do once they have passed a certain grade.

Not that the standards are low, but I don't see how they can proclaim that each learner will be able to do this, that, and the other, by the end of whichever grade, when you can ask any X-grader any part of that, and they are lost. Maybe not on perfectly concrete things like what 4 times 5 is, but anything conceptual, and most of them don't seem to be learning a thing.

So in that way, it would be easy, but that's not a good thing.

crunchynerd
11-24-2013, 11:03 PM
Weird! I thought that was all only back in the Jim Crow era in the US, or in places like Germany where essentially, there are people who are put in vocational training and then those who are deemed smart or special, who get to be professionals and academics, but no one has a choice in the matter, and fates are decided when kids are still young enough, that that is really unfair.

I had no idea it was happening in Canada, and especially in the US, right now! I cringe at the idea that that is what they are trying to set up with the p-20 data pipeline, datatracking kids on every detail including parents' political persuasions, the kids' attitudes and opinions, etc in addition to health info and grades, because the idea of having a person's entire future and options for what sort of life to live, decided by the government, based on scores and measurements, is sick. So many brilliant people were deemed dullards as kids, by officious bureaucrat dullards who couldn't understand what brilliance really was unless it came with papers.

aMommyMyWay
12-20-2013, 08:46 PM
My 17 yo is finally more able to get his work done independently without complaining, but i KNOW he's taking frequent fan fiction / buzzfeed breaks. he has a lot of issues, though
My husband is a student and he takes frequent Facebook/ Buzzfeed breaks ;)