Don’t Just Teach, Help Kids Learn

November 13, 2012

Mid-Week Links

Petrina and her parents

It’s all about unschooling and homeschooling this week.

Malaysian homeschooler, 17-year-old Petrina Phua, writes about her homeschooling experience and what it was like to transition to taking the IGCSE exams. She went on to score straight As for all her eight subjects. “I remember that there were days when I would do nothing but music. There were times when I would draw a lot and also, times when my brothers and I played a lot,” she said.

A key to effective learning, say homeschooling parents, is to habitually focus on helping your child learn. This is because there is a world of difference between the act of teaching a child and the act of assisting his learning process.

Dale Stephens founded the UnCollege website in 2011 because he believed that we were paying too much for education and learning too little. College, he says, is NOT the only path to success. In this letter to parents, Dale’s mother talks about the challenges and the joys of unschooling.

A survey by Scholastic and the Gates Foundation found that only seven per cent of educators in the US saw standardised tests as essential. 62 percent believed that formative assessments—quizzes, tests, observations, summaries, and reviews that give students feedback and help teachers hone their classroom instruction—are essential to student achievement.

An English-language teacher in New York writes an apology to her Grade 8 students for a pointless test they were made to sit. “What I learned is that the test is also criminal,” she said. “Because what I hadn’t known—this is my first time grading this exam—was that it doesn’t matter how well you write, or what you think. All that matters, it turns out, is that you cite two facts from the reading material in every answer.”

Detractors of homeschooling proliferate. In this article, the writer worries about “the very real potential for educational neglect among some home-schooling families”. However, a blogger she quoted, not altogether accurately, felt compelled to post a clarification.

Sir Ken Robinson makes the case, at a TED conference, for a radical shift from standardised schools to personalised learning—creating conditions where children’s natural talents can flourish.

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