By Erin K Costello
Let me begin this post by saying how I feel alternative education techniques can be wonderful for so many children. I myself am a product of alternative education. Had it not been for the alternative high school I attended, I might have dropped out of high school. I believe most all forms of alternative education can benefit many children just as much, and possibly more than traditional classrooms. That being said, these techniques should still rival other traditional forms of education. There is a reason why our educational instructors are required to attend college for so many years and obtain a degree. Providing a quality education is a constant and intricate profession. Not to mention it is hard work! Assuming you can do this yourself without any training, education, or without so much as having stepped foot in a classroom since your high school senior year can prove detrimental to your child's educational progress. My youngest child is 14 years of age. I would have to first be re-educated in the subject material myself before I had any right to try and teach her effectively. I admire any parent that chooses to home-school their child(ren) and who does so tirelessly and successfully. Which brings me to MAM’s latest posts and comments.
To begin with, she's made a couple remarks regarding how she is not exhibiting signs or effects of Dunning-Krueger (?), or Kreuger (?), or krueger(?), or KRUGER! (correct spelling courtesy of your's truly, MAM is still working on this feat). The irony of this is not at all lost on me by the way.
Then there's the post concerning vaccinations and school.
"No shots, no school? NOT TRUE!" Or rather, very possibly true.
Of course all 50 states allow and honor medical exemptions. This will never change, it can't ever change. And honestly, the number of students who truly need a medical exemption is very small, so there's no need for this to change either.
The only states that don't allow any other exemptions besides medical are California, West Virginia and Mississippi. All other states do allow religious exemptions, and 18 states allow philosophical exemptions. Missouri would make it 19 states however, the personal belief exemption does not apply to public schools, only to child care facilities.
In some states however, the educational institution, whether private or public, can still deny your state allowed exemption. The school can legally call in to question your alleged religious beliefs if they at all doubt your sincerity. In 2014 and 2016 two separate courts in New York State sided with the public school system when they had denied state granted religious exemptions from several sets of parents.
In the event of a measles outbreak or another VPD (vaccine preventable disease) in the school district the school can require all un-vaccinated children to remain home from school until the outbreak has passed, this can sometimes mean weeks of school missed at a time.
What MAM is negligently leaving out of her post is that even if your state allows for two or more vaccine exemptions, and allows the exemptions for public schools, the school can still legally deny your child's enrollment in many states. In fact, those states that don't currently have legal precedent established to deny your child's non medical exemption, may decide to attempt to set such precedent at any time. If they go the route as other states have done, they aren't likely to lose either.
For this following post, I'd like to discuss what she calls "low value" educational activities. Her definition of this teaching practice is as follows, "it is an activity that takes more time to plan and actually do, than the amount of actual new skills or knowledge the child takes away from it." Translation? It's an activity that occupies the child(ren) and keeps them good and busy, but without that pesky (teaching) learning!
Complicated series of crafts do take a while to plan, but didn't she just say in the paragraph above here that she wants the activities to take more time to plan and do, than the amount of of knowledge they provide? And, I'm sure it is a downer to have to spend money to purchase educational supplies for your children. I know myself, I pay school taxes, then have to supply about three typed out sheets of paper lists for each of my kids. Luckily they're double spaced though! I'm not quite sure what it is about the number "three" that she finds so difficult to arrange new and creative lesson plans for. Double digit numbers should be interesting.
Here's where her post serves it's real purpose, and that purpose is to feed MAM's ego. Why concern herself with what her kids enjoy and benefit from? MAM enjoys sewing, cooking, and growing things she could buy. This is about HER fun, and well.....her.
"But don't fall into the trap of thinking that these low-value activities are "education," or that kids can't learn without them." Wait.....was there a concern this was possible? No really! Who the hell was worried of thinking these vague, description-less, valueless activities were an education that kids couldn't learn without? If parents are falling into this alleged "trap" then maybe the students have surpassed the teachers?
I have to give credit where credit is due. Mam is most likely correct that an education of value exposes children to new information, quality information, and insures the child understands and remembers as much as possible, or at least the important lessons. Naturally, one way to help children remember lessons is to associate them with real world, real life, day to day activities. Showing relevance in life makes a mental connection that is very hard to break or forget.
Sadly though, I now have to take the back the credit. If a child doesn't understand "it", or isn't taught how to use the information in different contexts, then the lesson needs to be explained in a better or different fashion, or simply needs to be repeated. Repetition can very often be a useful teaching technique. Also, if the child didn't really get an education, then it can be argued that the teacher wasn't much of an educator. Most children will not fully grasp new lesson plans on the first try, and even if they do they are likely to forget much of the lesson down the road if after every first successful lesson covered the teacher then moves on to something else. Each lesson is usually a stepping stone to the next level. If the child forgets the subject's foundation, moving up will most likely be a challenge for them. Sometimes more class time is needed, sometimes several worksheets aide in understanding the information presented to them.
Sure! Shopping for 3 bananas will help teach your child the value of three. It also provides you with a helper while shopping, and required you to put virtually no effort or planning into this lesson plan. It also likely cost almost nothing in supplies since like MAM said, shopping was something she was "going to do anyway.” You can also have the child pick three oranges or loaves of bread to spice it up a bit. THIS is what MAM calls a high-value activity!
By pawning your role as your child's educator on the produce aisle at the supermarket, you can now spend all the time you "WOULD have spent planning and preparing" the low-value activities, on other high-value ones instead. For example, you would now have time to maybe teach your child colors by having them separate the colors from the whites in laundry, and they can learn how to read the dial on the dryer after having loaded it for you. Or you can just reward yourselves for a job well done after having bought oranges and bananas, by relaxing and spending the rest of the day playing!
I don't know if this is what un-schooling is or looks like. I just know that this is what MAM'S un-schooling consists of.
This doesn't offend any form of education. This offends the students stuck with THIS education. There's a reason why parents stress about the time and type of school work they provide for their kids each day, and even "pull their hair out." They. Don't. Want. To. Fail. Their. Kids. This isn't a bad thing by the way. It's a stressful thing, and I'm sure sometimes it can be a troubling thing for the parent, but wanting to provide the best for your kids isn't something that should be expected to be effortless, or to even be effortless for that matter. If it is, then wonderful! But parenting, and providing the best opportunities possible takes work!
Of course many life skills can be learned through everyday life activities like cooking and "crafting." That's great for the lower grades. But I'm genuinely curious, how does one work trigonometry into making homemade tacos? Or how does one work in the rise and the fall of the Persian empire while crafting a Thanksgiving turkey from construction paper and a traced hand? How does one incorporate foreign language plans into building a fire?
No one is doing this to put on a show of "educational theater" for the other moms at the park or the farmer's market. Parents put in all this work, study, planning, learning, anxiety, stress, and constant self doubt because they want to provide their children with the very best childhood possible, and set them up to succeed in all they wish to do in life. At least, that's why OTHER parents choose homeschooling or un-schooling.
I am now going to wrap this blog post up by simply posting Amazon book reviews for Kate Tietje's (MAM) book, titled Un-schooling From Birth to Early Elementary. I was sure to grab the reviews from verified purchases, with the exception of the last image because it was probably one of the most detailed reviews listed for her book. There were only 13 reviews in total so my pickings were slim. I am only providing these for readers to see for themselves the lack of qualifications MAM has on the issue of education, much like most other issues she feels frighteningly confident to advise her followers in regards to.