Category: Education

25 Sep 2015

Homework Can Be Fun For Your Kids and You  0


Some people think that helping the kids out with homework is actually going to be one of the highlights of parenting. These tend to be the sort of people who want to have kids but haven’t had kids yet. Other parents literally dread the days in which they are going to have to seemingly go back to school for themselves, but this time, they will have that much more responsibility and no gold stars. I think all parents who actually try this out with their kids should just give themselves gold stars and be done with it. If you’ve ever tried to explain the fundamentals of multiplying fractions with your kids while they were trying to get you to show them YouTube videos instead, then you definitely deserve all of the gold stars in the world.

For me, the hardest part of helping the kids with homework has always been getting them started in the first place. My kids are bright, but getting them to actually do work of any kind has always been a huge uphill battle for me and for their teachers. They may have inherited laziness genes from me. If so, those genes are no longer active for me, because my environment has been thoroughly changed by parenthood, and genes respond to environmental changes. I was just talking about that the other day when I was helping my daughter with her homework. I was drilling her for a test. In fact, this illustrates one of the ways in which I’ve managed to get through this part of the job as a parent.

I try to turn homework into a game. I say that this is for the sake of the kids. I’m trying to make homework fun so they will recognize that learning is, after all, a lot of fun as long as you decide to do it correctly. However, I’m ultimately doing this for my own sake. Doing homework with the kids would just be too boring otherwise. I don’t want to have to go over a dozen problem sets involving fractions with my elementary-aged son. I don’t want to go over algebra problems with my high school-aged daughter. My other daughter, who is currently in middle school, manages to split the difference between them in all of the worst ways. I won’t learn anything when working on her homework with her, but it isn’t as mindless as helping with something like long division, which miraculously hasn’t somehow gotten any harder since I was growing up.

25 Aug 2015

Do You Really Want Your Kid to Go to a Normal School?  0

One of the main arguments that I’ve always heard against homeschooling is this idea that your kids are automatically going to grow up to be socially maladjusted if they don’t go to a regular school for the sake of their socialization during those critical years. It’s a miracle that humanity ever developed social skills before the twentieth century, if that’s the assumption that you make about life, the universe, and everything. Schools seem to produce plenty of socially maladjusted people as it is, so I’m not really sure where these people are coming from at the best of times. However, I really do want to take this argument on and give it its fair due, since then maybe it will be a fair fight and the argument will go away, satisfied that I didn’t cheat.

Is the typical school environment a great place to learn social skills? You spend a lot of time with people in such a way that doesn’t really reflect how things are in real life at all. Spending time coexisting with people of vastly different backgrounds in a way that gives everyone involved a lot of free time, and you’re all navigating a social environment that has too many people: that isn’t the real world. If your coworkers are acting like the girls from Mean Girls, you can quit. Your coworkers probably won’t do that, because they’re adults and they grew up. You won’t be forced to complete extracurricular activities with your coworkers unless you work for a particularly weird and old-fashioned company. The petty intrigues that seem so important in high school seem ridiculous to adults, who have actual responsibilities and things to worry about, which is going to cause them to regulate their behavior.

Basically, adulthood in our culture is like unlearning how to be a student in many ways. You have to unlearn what it’s like to have to do homework and other types of busywork for no pay. You have to get used to being an adult who gets proportionately rewarded for his or her contributions as opposed to a kid that either has a lot of potential or a kid that is squandering his or her potential, depending upon how good of a student that you were. You have to get used to a society in which there is no cafeteria or nurse’s station nearby, and you’re not earning grades for the sake of getting into college. My question is: why teach people to be students in this environment in the first place? If they can learn the material in other ways, shouldn’t they do that in a way that will actually prepare them for their real lives as adults?

Home-schooled kids can certainly learn to be social. I don’t know why people assume that ‘home-schooled’ means ‘they never see the light of day ever.’ I signed my kids up for a bunch of extracurricular activities that meet outside of our house, and they met a bunch of their friends through those programs. The only thing they missed out on was obsessing about the popular kids in school and getting bullied by the abused kids who wanted to prove that they were tough. Most of their experiences with kids their own age involved people who were all in the same activity group because they liked it, and people who their friends were friends with, which I liked. This also made things easier for me, since I was more likely to meet like-minded Mom friends. As long as your home isn’t a rock that your kids will live under until they’re twenty-six, you can home-school them to be social individuals.

08 Aug 2015

I Like Dancing With the Stars and I Don’t Care Who Knows It  0

Dancing With the Stars is one of those shows that you’re not supposed to admit to liking, even if you love it and you’d happily watch it over and over again during all of your spare time if you didn’t have any standards. I do have standards when it comes to my spare time, so I don’t really see the problem here. If I was watching it when I should be doing something like raising my children or voting for the next president, then I’d see the argument. In fact, my eldest daughter and I love this show and it’s one of the major common interests that we have, so by this very argument, liking this show actually makes me a better parent in this case!

I like watching people dance in almost any circumstance. I’m just a big fan of dancing in general, so a show like Dancing With the Stars is automatically going to appeal to someone with my interests. Sure, I like the classical dance that actually tends to be treated with respect in our culture, like ballet, but not every dance performance has to be ballet in order for it to be high-quality and interesting to watch. The fact that ballet dancers rarely become celebrities is also going to cancel out some of the fun. The performance is about the dance only and never the dancer. The dancers are functionally anonymous performers that you can watch and appreciate from a distance for their technique only.

I like that I actually know who some of the Dancing With the Stars people are. I can see them dance with real dancers, and I can find out if so-and-so can actually dance. Yes, some of these stars are basically washed-up. I don’t care. They didn’t evaporate when the media stopped focusing on them, and I might still have nostalgia for some of these people. They didn’t hurt anyone just because they’re not in the limelight anymore and they didn’t hurt anyone by agreeing to join a dance competition. They don’t need to be made fun of at every single opportunity, critics. You can let it go now.

Watching the bad dancers get eliminated from the competition is fun because bad dancing is funny. Admit it: you think it is, too. Good dancing is fun to watch in a different way, and you get plenty of that with Dancing With the Stars. It has the best of both worlds, so if you like dancing, there’s no reason not to like Dancing With the Stars.

01 Aug 2015

School Environments and Teachers  0

Here’s the thing: teachers are stressed out. They’re really stressed out. They have thirty kids to deal with at least, and they have to somehow make sure that all of them are learning in the way that they should. They have to do this while also meeting all sorts of faculty obligations. They also have to do this while enacting discipline in their classes, even though most forms of discipline are outlawed today and the teachers have alarmingly few options.

Schoolteachers aren’t as poorly paid as a lot of people seem to think: I’ve heard people guess that teachers make as little as retail workers, who make less than twenty grand a year. The starting salary of teachers ranges from thirty to forty grand a year, and it often rises over time. However, teachers should still be getting paid more for what they do, which is act as caregivers, disciplinarians, educators, and administrators all at once.

So basically, what I’m saying is this: who is going to give your child a better education? The person with thirty kids to teach, or the person with three kids to teach or less? We should also just admit once and for all that a lot of teachers didn’t enter the field because they were so passionate about educating the young people of tomorrow, or for any of the idealistic reasons that teachers will usually cite as long as you ask them about the subject in public instead of private. A lot of teachers became education majors because they couldn’t figure out what they really wanted to do when they were still in high school and college, so they just went with education knowing that at least they would have a secure job once they had successfully managed to graduate, unlike some of their peers in the riskier professions.

Your kids are being taught by people who were apathetic and bored college students twenty or ten years ago. Your kids might be lucky enough to get a few of the dedicated and brilliant teachers that still manage to get into the system, but they aren’t going to be taught by those people exclusively. The odds of that happening are so low that you might as well ignore them altogether. Your kids are going to be taught by the sort of people who started teaching because they couldn’t think of anything better to do with their lives, and they’re probably not going to be especially enthusiastic about what they do for a living. They will take that out on your kids, and they will probably do more to stifle the education of your kids than anything else. It isn’t their fault, but that’s just the way things are, and you can avoid almost all of that by just making sure that your kids get home-schooled.

As a mom of three, I can tell you that when my eldest daughter went to public school, she was still pretty much being home-schooled anyway. She wouldn’t pay any attention to her teacher in class, usually because her teacher was so bad at his job that he made his lectures incomprehensible. She would then ask for help on her homework, and I ended up basically teaching her how to complete all of it. The thing is, I was doing this late at night after I’d already had a full day. It would have been easier if she’d just stayed home altogether, and she could have skipped her teacher’s terrible lectures. Eventually, that’s more or less what happened.

25 Jul 2015

Homeschooling Is A Very Real Option  0

A lot of parents are skeptical about schooling. A lot of non-parents are also skeptical about homeschooling. I know because both groups aren’t exactly shy about admitting it. If you get your own kids educated at home, you’ll have people from both groups who can’t wait to tell you about all of the ways in which you are obviously going to end up screwing your kids up for life.

I mean, all parents are constantly told all of the time that we’re screwing up our kids irreparably. At this stage of my parenting, I’m so used to it that I can’t even really get worked up about it anymore. I even have a hard time getting worked up about non-parents dispensing parenting advice. Everyone has an opinion about everything these days, in the Information Age, and they will make you listen. It’s probably a good thing that parents are encouraged to question all of our parenting decisions these days, in sharp contrast to the days in which parents were allowed to have complete authority with absolutely no societal check at all. I wish everything we did wasn’t questioned every single moment of every single day, but it is better than the alternative.

However, I have definitely made up my mind about home-schooling, and I just think that parents and non-parents alike who object to home-schooling are completely wrong. I really think that they’re just under the impression that just because they went to school outside the home, going to school outside the home is normal and there is literally no other way to get an education that counts for anything. The modern schooling system is very recent and we really don’t have centuries of experience with it. Still, a lot of people today nonetheless manage to see it as the default in every way. Not only is it not the default all around the world, I really wish it wasn’t the default in this country.