Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense


As a public high school English teacher,David Guterson possesses an insider glimpse into the problems of our education system. One of the core weaknesses of the education system is the restriction of learning within the four walls of the classroom.

In his book, Guterson (1993) not onlyjustifies his decision to homeschool his children, but also explores the critical role of homeschooling in challenging the premises of public education.

Although people choose to homeschool their children for a variety of reasons, one of the key reasons is their disillusionment with public education. With its standardized curriculum that is designated for the masses, the education system imposes its stamp of uniformity on every student, with little respect to their distinctive strengths and weaknesses.
In contrast, homeschooling offers a child-centered curriculum that promotes the children’s pursuit of their interests. Rather than impose their expectations of education on their children, parents allow their children to take the initiative in the learning process by guiding them in the right direction.

Guterson and his children follow the latter’s interest by going on excursions and exploring topics such as salmon or flight in detail. This type of education is premised on the belief that children are spontaneous learners who are intrinsically motivated to learn in a conducive environment. Instead of educating their children for future employment, homeschoolers are concerned with the cultivation of the love of learning by igniting all of the body’s senses (Guterson, 1993).

In spite of its orthodox methods of learning, homeschooling has shown that it is academically superior to public education. According to Guterson’s father (described in the book, a criminal lawyer who has defended homeschoolers in many cases) homeschoolers have higher test scores than their counterparts in public education. Although the public is concerned that many of the parents are not certified for teaching, Guterson, Sr. points out that that homeschoolers perform equally well on the standardized tests, regardless of their parents’ academic levels and credentials (in Guterson, 1993).

Guterson (1993) also addresses another prevalent concern that homeschoolers are not given adequate opportunities to socialize with their peers. According to Guterson (1993), schools often provide a negative social environment with its emphasis on forming cliques, competition and tracking. On the other hand, homeschoolers are liberated from the pressures of school life to form their own perceptions in their interaction with people of all ages within the community. Without the negative influences, properly taught homeschoolers are more likely than their counterparts in public education to develop sympathy and compassion towards others.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that Guterson (1993) is not a completely biased author who paints an idyllic portrait of homeschooling. In Chapter Seven, he depicts the economic sacrifices made by homeschoolers who have to devote a substantial amount of time and energy in their children’s education. Because they homeschool their children, homeschooling parents do not have a two-person income. Thus, the decision to homeschool one’s children involves a serious undertaking that affects other aspects of life.

In order to overcome financial difficulties and obstacles, Guterson (1993) highlights the use of the Internet, public libraries and low-cost community resources that can be integrated into the education. At the same time, he also proposes an interesting idea that brings homeschoolers and public schools together by allowing homeschoolers to use public school resources.

Ultimately, Guterson’s work is a celebration of an alternative
conception of education and learning. He believes that homeschooling offers an education that extends beyond the artificial environment of schools and exposes children to the real world that abounds with learning opportunities. Even more significantly, he supports homeschooling as a parent and a teacher because it combines the best of both worlds (family and school): “[Parents of my students] love their children with a depth I can’t match; and finally teaching is an act of love before it is anything else” (p. 10).

How Children Fail

In his groundbreaking book,  John Holt,draws upon his observations of children both in school and at play to identify ways in which our traditional educational system predestines our young people for failure.

Holt argues that children fail primarily“because they are afraid, bored, and confused.”  This, combined with misguided teaching strategies and a school environment that is disconnected from reality and “real learning”, results in a school system that kills children’s innate desire to learn.

The following is a summary of the author’s conclusions:
1. Fear and failure: Schools promote an atmosphere of fear – fear of failure, fear of humiliation, fear of disapproval – that most severely affects a student’s capacity for intellectual growth. External motivation – rewards such as grades and gold stars – reinforces children’s fears of failing exams and receiving disapproval from the adults in their lives. Rather than learning the actual content of the lessons, students learn how to avoid embarrassment. This atmosphere of fear not only quells a child’s love of learning and suppresses his native curiosity, but also makes him afraid of taking chances and risks which may be necessary for true learning to occur.

2. Boredom: Boredom serves as another major obstacle, blocking both the child’s innate motivation to learn and his love of learning. Before attending school, children feel free to explore and discover those things that interest them. But once the child becomes part of our modern school system, both the institutions and the parents unknowingly sabotage their child’s education. Schools demand that children perform dull, repetitive tasks which make limited demands on their wide range of capabilities; such demands may or may not be suitable to a particular child’s interests or needs.

Schools provide a ‘cookie-cutter’ education, which compels children to vie “for petty and contemptible rewards,” rather than cultivate their intrinsic love of learning, which would serve to enhance their individual gifts and talents. Rather that forcing our children to adapt to a system which makes them consider learning a dreary and painful task, Holt advocates that children be encouraged to learn by following their natural curiosities and interests, without fear and guilt.

3. Confusion: Once enrolled in school, the child often founds himself being taught things that contradict what he has learned from his parents or other adults. Furthermore, the adults at school treat him very differently than the ones at home. This confusion is further exacerbated when a child, who is taught at home that curiosity is a positive and commendable thing, faces mockery and contempt from both teachers and fellow students for asking a question. Through his research, Holt has observed that most children – largely for fear of such ridicule – cease to ask questions by age ten.

4. Real Learning: Holt believes that “real learning” does not necessarily equate to mastering the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but rather, occurs when a child is encouraged to develop his own gifts and talents. Every expert has different views on what should be included in a child’s curriculum, and furthermore, much of what is taught in our schools is outdated by the time children need to apply that knowledge to real life. This reinforces Holt’s belief that there is no single body of information that all children should learn.

Quoting the author: “The proper place and best place for children to learn whatever they need or want to know is the place where, until very recently, almost all children learned it: in the world itself.”
5. Strategies: Current teaching strategies cultivate a fear of
humiliation in children, and do more to harm young people than they do to meet their needs. Such fear drives students to develop various coping strategies or defense mechanisms – mumbling, acting like they don’t understand, acting overly enthusiastic so they won’t be called upon, etc – to dodge the demands placed upon them by adults, or to avoid being humiliated in front of their peers.

Holt concludes that there is a vast difference between what children really know, and what they only appear to know. Rather than learning the content of a lesson, children learn how to perform, or how to survive by deflecting the teacher’s questions with the least possible amount of embarrassment. Almost everything we do in our schools tends to make children ‘answer-centered,’ rather than ‘problem centered,’ which inadvertently deprives them of the skills that they need to function in the real world.

From the time of birth until the age of three years, children have a “tremendous capacity for learning, understanding, and creating.” Adults – either through their own actions, or through excessively dictating their children’s actions – destroy most of the this intellectual and creative capacity. Most frequently, we destroy this capacity by making our children afraid; afraid of being wrong. Holt’s examination of our present educational system is a critical and insightful study, one which forces us to look more closely at the lessons that we are unwittingly imparting to our young ones.

Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

A brilliant book by New York State teacher of the year: John Taylor Gatto

Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

“The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions, but to destroy the capacity to form any.”  –Hannah Arendt

In this rare and insightful book, Gatto  explains the seven lessons that are taught in most schools.  They constitute a damaging and costly national curriculum.  Here is a summary of those principles, as expressed by the author in the first-person voice:

1. Confusion: I teach too much, and everything that I teach is out of context. The orbiting of planets, the law of large numbers, slavery, adjectives, architectural drawing, dance, assemblies, etc.

Editors note: I have met countless college graduates whose heads are filled with volumes of academic jumble, but who cannot focus, live under constant stress, can’t make a decent income, and can’t maintain a stable relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

2.Class Position: I teach students that they must remain in the class into which they were born, the class where they belong. If I do my job well, my students will be unable to imagine themselves somewhere else. They will envy and fear the upper classes, and have contempt for the lower classes.

3. Indifference: I teach children not to care too much about anything, even though they may desire to do so. I demand that my students become completely involved in my lessons, vigorously competing with each other for my favor.

4.Emotional Dependency: By using stars and red checks; smiles and frowns; prizes and punishments; or honors and disgraces, I force children to become emotionally dependent upon my praise. This ensures my power over them. My students surrender their will to the predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld by any authority without appeal, because rights do not exist inside a school. Even the right to free speech – free thought as well – is suspended within the confines of the classroom. Individuality is a contradiction of class theory.

5. Intellectual Dependency: Good students wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. This is the most important lesson that is imparted to our children in school: We must wait for other people – better trained than ourselves – to direct us and give meaning to our lives.

6. Provisional Self-Esteem: I teach children that their self-respect should depend upon expert opinion. My student’s are constantly evaluated and judged. Report cards, grades, and tests all teach us that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but instead, should rely upon the expert evaluations of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.
7. One Can’t Hide: I teach students they are always watched; that each individual is

under constant surveillance by either my colleagues or myself. This forces my students to behave appropriately, because they fear that someone is watching them, and will punish them if they behave wrongly. There is no private time. Furthermore, I assign a type of extended schooling called “homework,” which ensures that the effects of my classroom travel into private households. When students might otherwise use free time to learn something unauthorized from a parent, through exploration, or by apprenticing to some wise person in the neighborhood, they are kept occupied with homework.

Presently, few people can imagine a different educational system. When proponents of educational reform bring up the aforementioned flaws, they are met with traditional opposition: “Kids have to learn to follow orders, if they ever expect to keep a job.” or “They have to go to school so they can learn to read and write.”

Prior to around 1850, schooling – as it is understood in the traditional sense – was not considered very important anywhere. Schooling existed, but not to the extent that it presently does. Furthermore, students only attended the amount of school that they felt necessary. Even without rigid curriculum and mandatory attendance policies, people still learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. Recently, Senator Kennedy’s office released a paper stating that prior to compulsory education, the literacy rate was 98%. Following the implementation of compulsory education, the figure never exceeded 91%. Additionally, the skills of reading, writing, and performing arithmetic – when the pupil is eager and willing to learn – can be mastered much more quickly than our present school system leads people to believe. When an individual genuinely wants to learn something, the speed at which he is able to comprehend that subject matter is greatly increased.
Gatto’s book strikes at the heart of modern social dysfunction. It is a critical component of our understanding the problems – high rates of mental illness, family dysfunction, violence, crime, drug addiction, income inequity – that plague our society. See Mr. Gatto’s web site.

Education Reform: Beyond Discipline      

In his book, BeyondDiscipline: From Compliance to Community, Alfie Kohn (1996) shatters the traditional assumptions and practices of classroom management.

Conventionally, teachers work within a “teacher-directed model” by controlling the children’s behavior either by punishment or rewards.  Instead of acknowledging the possible problems of a dull curriculum or poor instructional methods, teachers place complete blame on children for their negative behavior.  Apart from critiquing traditional classroom method, Kohn (1996) offers an alternative method, a “student-directed model” that transforms the classroom into a democratic community that recognizes the needs and interests of both teachers and students.

The underlying flaw with using the traditional classroom management system is that it can only succeed in eliciting temporary compliance from the students. The use of extrinsic rewards and sanctions does not teach students to become caring and responsible individuals who will be able to act appropriately without external supervision or coercion.
With punishments, children only learn the lesson that they will suffer dire consequences when they are caught misbehaving. With rewards, students will learn how to respond positively only in order to win a prize or praise. Therefore, both punishments and rewards do not cultivate long-lasting moral values within children. In fact, Kohn (1996) cites supportive research to show that children who are taught with traditional classroom methods tend to be more selfish and uncooperative than those who are taught with alternative methods.

In contrast, Kohn (1996) believes that the implementation of a new classroom management system that incorporates students in the decision-making processes will exert a positive impact on the students and eliminate behavioral problems.

Kohn (1996) highlights
five ways for classroom management system that
incorporates students in the decision-making processes will exert a positive impact on the creating a democratic community within the classroom:
Invite students to participate in their learning processes by making daily decisions.
Encourage students to learn appropriate behavior among themselves, with the teacher’s guidance.
Hold classroom discussions about the standards of behavior for the classroom. Instead of the teacher prescribing rules of conduct, the students are given the opportunities to explore and determine how to create a positive community.

Establish routine classroom meetings for students to vent their feelings, discuss classroom issues and learn how to solve problems in a democratic setting.

Create a safe and positive environment that promotes participation from all students, without fear of mockery and negative criticism.
With this book, Kohn (1996) has challenged the traditional assumptions of classroom management that has dominated the school system for centuries. Although educators believe that the education system should help children become caring and responsible individuals, they have upheld a system designed to create unthinking and compliant students. Therefore, it is time for educators to recognize the significance of Kohn’s vision of an alternative classroom by answering this question: What kind of future do we want for our children? Reference Kohn, A. (1996). Beyond discipline: From compliance to community. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of  American Schooling


What is wrong with the school system to 
Gatto is not bad teachers, bad administrators, nor even bad parents.

Rather, it is the design of the institution altogether from inception.  Instead of superficially searching for quick fix reforms, Gatto desires to see the system junked altogether.

Gatto sees most schools as prisons of coercion, where students are regulated by a life of fragmented knowledge, where they show obedience to strangers, where the design of education is dependency, obedience, regulation and subordination.

Schools make childhood surreal by:

• enforcing sensory deprivation

• sorting children into rigid categories (read: standardized testing)

• training children to stop at the sound of a buzzer

• keeping children under constant surveillance and depriving them of private time
and space

• assigning numbers to children which feigns the ability to discriminate personal
qualities

• insisting that every moment be filled with low level abstractions

• forbidding children to make their own intellectual discoveries

To counter this process his goals for school reforms are as follows:

• teaching needs to be deconstructed – teachers need to be centrally involved in the
development and maintenance of standards and practices, not just the drones of
someone else’s blueprints.

• decentralize school systems – no one right way to teach but allow for other
possibilities, such as home schooling.

• developing areas for privacy and solitude in character development – schools are
too big and too concerned with surveillance.

• less policing in schools – trim bureaucracy for more teachers.

• eliminating artificial subject divisions -students should solve real world problems not
abstractions in an interdisciplinary fashion and should not mimic a Henry Ford
assembly line with classes limited to 40 minutes.

Gatto also looks at a corollary issue: why do schools cost so much? Statistics have shown that home schooled students have higher test scores on average than students who go to public schools. Even many high school dropouts do quite well. So why doesn’t money generate into better educated students? New York state, for example, spends 51% of its budget on administrative costs. Local administration reduces this to only 25% spent on students. Gatto sees this a “protection money paid to the school ring.”

How did this happen on a nation wide scale? Government schooling came to function as a jobs project where “the primary mission of schools and compulsion laws guaranteed an audience no matter how bad the show” (25). Indeed administrators nationally have grown 110% from 1983 to 1991 and increased spending by the federal government has only aggravated the problem rather than solving it.

How did the school system get so bad? Between 1896 and 1920 a small group of industrialists and financiers subsidized university chairs and researchers with the aim of bending schooling to the service of business and the political state. For leading industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie and John T. Rockefeller, public schooling was engineered to serve a modified command economy and an increasingly layered social order. And how best to do this? By copying the Prussian model of public education.
The Prussian way was to train only a leadership cadre while other students would be taught to fit in their place. Moreover, fear of European immigrants in the 1840s, specifically Catholics, made it essential to leading industrialists and educators to adopt a system based on three Prussian principles:

• The state is sovereign, the only true
parents of children.

• State appointed teachers are the
guardians of children.

• The schoolroom and the workplace
shall be dumbed down into simplified
fragments.

Leading schoolmen of American history such as Horace Mann, Henry Barnard, William Harris, Edward Thorndike, William James, John Dewy, Stanley Hall, Charles Judd, Ellwood Cubberly, and James Russell all made promises to American industrialists and American families of prominence that if the new Prussian school system were given support, the prospect of revolution would vanish and social mobility could be checked.

The Prussian systems explains the
inordinate interest the foundations of Carnegie and Rockefeller took in shaping early public schooling around compulsory education, which to Gatto, has been from the beginning a scheme of indoctrination designed to create a harmless proletariat held hostage by its addiction to luxury and security.

The Prussian school system relied heavily on the French philosopher August Comt้ who argued that one could create a useful proletariat by breaking connections between children and their families, their communities, their God and themselves. Rather than family enterprise and individual effort as the main agencies of personal definition, state institutions would do this better with an army of specialists.

So if the present school system is so awful, how can it be reformed? Gatto argues that there is no one way to teach, that schooling should be what the parents, community and even the children want it to be, an experiment not codified by the state. Rather than have standards set by politicians or administrators, schools should survive the market place, much like a business, with plenty of competition. Before the “Progressive” era of mid 19th century compulsory education laws there was great diversity and autonomy in education rather than one best system which was forced on everyone. Though not a proponent of vouchers, Gatto believes that a portion of school taxes should be given back to parents so they could shop around for better options than public education has to offer.
For schools to be worthwhile they need to have worthwhile goals such as:

• creating independent, resourceful and fearless citizens

• tapping the educational power of family life

• bestowing significance on personal choices

• arresting the epidemic of alienation and loneliness

• restoring democracy as a natural mission

• reversing the growing isolation of social classes

• regenerating community life

Gatto believes schools can pursue these goals and still teach reading writing and arithmetic.

Deschooling Our Lives

    
Deschooling Our Lives, a compilation of short essays by de-schooling parents, advocates, and educators discusses the various aspects of alternative schooling, ranging from the philosophies of its original supporters to representatives from modern alternative schools.  The compilation focuses on core issues such as:

The negative psychological effect of the present school system.

The need for schooling that venerates individuality, self-definition, and responsibility for one’s own growth

Determination to raise critical thinking individuals committed to social transformation and a democratic society
The need for a free school system that allows parents school choice

Emphasis on community building and community support

Separated into 4 sections: 1) Looking Back: Some of the Roots of Modern Deschooling; 2) Living Fully: More Recent Analysis; 3) Just Say No: Staying Home; 4) Schools That Ain’t: Places That Work; the collection of pieces are written by individuals with experience in the field.

Part One – Looking Back: Some of the Roots of Modern Deschooling incorporates articles from authors ranging from Leo Tolstoy to John Holt, each drawing on their own experience in the educational system. Although each of the writers gives a different perspective on the issue, they each discuss the failures of the current school system as well as ideas for how to transcend them. Each writer emphasizes the need to refrain from distinguishing intellectual from physical and advocate learning as intertwined with experience. This part offers various critiques of the general school system.

Part Two – Living Fully: More Recent Analysis focuses on more recent proponents of deschooling who form the core philosophy of the deschooling movement. Writers such as Grace Llewellyn and John Taylor Gatto discuss the use of arbitrary tyrannical authority in the current school system and the negative psychological effects this method has on children. Others focus on the need to create an environment that encourages children to view life as a lifelong process of questioning, discovery, and commitment to social transformation. Each writer offers their own criticisms of the current school system and visions for the future.
Part Three – Just Say No: Staying Home, contains pieces by a diverse group

of deschoolers, ranging from single mothers to musicians. Each author gives their own angle of the deschooling issue, touching on various topics such as the literacy rate of African-American children, the destructive approach of musical teaching, and benefits of deschooling for single mothers. Each expands on the strategies she/he finds beneficial to a child’s self-esteem and healthy sense of the world. This section provides a more in-depth, detailed analysis of modern deschooling.
Part Four – Schools That Ain’t: Places That Work completes the compilation with examples of successful alternative schools and communities. Although many of the schools differ in their specific approaches to deschooling, the basic inspirations and visions of deschoolers remain consistent. Both deschooler students and educators take part in this discussion, giving the reader opinions from various angles of alternative schools. The schools embody democratic environments, child-tailored education, and adaptable school constitutions.
This compilation effectively takes the reader from numerous deschooling philosophies to examples of ways to make them a reality. A variety of ideas and visions coupled with diverse approaches to deschooling reemphasize the notion that there is no right way to educate a child. The book emphasizes that education should not adhere to a stagnant curriculum, but center on the child and the community. Deschooling Our Lives is an informative reader for anyone dissatisfied with the current school system or looking towards a future of deschooling for their child.

Challenging

Created to provide a voice for the alternative education community, Mary Leue’s   vol. I: The Best of Skole, 


(1992) the Journal of Alternative Education consists of diverse writings from teachers, students and academics More than a compilation of individual articles, this book captures the unique characteristics, the independent philosophy and creative methods, which have defined alternative education over the last four decades:

The empowerment of students, parents and teachers

• The recognition of the need to educate the intellectual, physical and
emotional aspects of each individual

• The acknowledgement of individuality and diversity in learning
styles and personal character

• The emphasis of human relationships and thus, the creation of a
community
For many of these educators, their valiant struggle to create an alternative type of education sprang from their frustration with traditional methods of education that destroys the students’ intuitive passion for learning. Even more significantly, Leue’s (1992) anthology is a celebration of the vision of extraordinary individuals who wanted to create an alternative to the current society that is characterized by overconsumption, disillusionment and the death of community life.

Reflecting the democratic orientation and the communal quality of an alternative educational institution, this anthology is divided into several sections: 1) Profiled schools that highlight the challenging beginnings of several alternative schools; 2) Articles written by prominent educators that espouse the philosophy of alternative education; 3) Poems that feature poetry produced by the students who play an integral role in the alternative education movement; 4) Studies that analyze and validate the effectiveness of alternative education; and 5) Book Reviews showcasing books that have contributed to the development of alternative education.

Although these articles have been written by different educators, they are interwoven with common threads that have created the unusual and incredible tapestry of alternative education. In “History of the Free School,” Mary Leue (1992) depicts the controversial and difficult creation of the Free School.
Based on a learner-centered model, the Free School sought to provide the children with an exciting place for learning without imposing its structure on them. More significantly, the Free School challenged the social and economic prejudices of a capitalist society by creating an alternative society. By acquiring several buildings in a dilapidated area, Leue used the Free School to transform a downtrodden neighborhood into a tightly-knit community that helped its members and shared resources.

The “village” that revolved around the Free School was not only able to provide housing and education for the members of its community, but was also able to provide medical and legal assistance. Essentially, by overcoming seemingly insurmountably challenges and difficulties, Leue (1992) and her supporters were able to realize a vision of an ideal community that brought out the best in humanity.
This belief that the quality of education lies at the heart of the society is also illuminated in writings such as John Taylor Gatto’s (1992) article, “Why Schools Don’t Educate.” According to Gatto (1992), the crisis of drugs, sex, violence and overconsumption is a result of the traditional education system that has failed to allow children to learn and grow. In the artificial school environment that emphasizes student conformity and divides learning into discrete subjects, students cannot learn about their strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, their learning is out-of-touch with reality. Thus, Gatto (1992) believes that students should be given a conducive environment for independent study and exposed to apprenticeships in various organizations, as well as community service.

Even though these two writings constitute merely a small sample of
the anthology, they reflect the passion and commitment of individuals who have dedicated their lives towards creating a new type of education and a new world. In spite of public apathy and opposition, participants in the alternative education movement have made personal sacrifices and have forged ahead with their vision. Unfortunately, they represent only a minority of people who have dared to voice the fundamental reality that the current education system is detrimental to the growth of our children and future of our society. Thus, this anthology offers a valuable forum for educators to spread their message and save future generations of children from being victimized by the current education system.

Using humor and armed

Using humor and armed with expert studies Alfie Kohn attempts to question some of most basic beliefs on a variety of subjects.  With respect to education Kohn tackles some major issues and assumptions, such as do rewards motivate people?  Are boys better at math than girls?  Does competition build character?  Do kids read less because they are addicted to television?  Does grouping students by ability help them learn better?  Kohn’s synthesis and critique of various studies-whose attempts at science are often times dubious-prove for some surprising results.

Do rewards motivate people?

The Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner popularized the theory of positive reinforcement, which maintains that presenting a reward after a desired behavior will make that behavior more like to occur in the future. Kohn sees this assumption as problematic when trying to encourage people to be creative. In effect, when rewards are tied to behavior, they can be
counterproductive.

Why should this be the case? Kohn uses the term “intrinsic motivation,” which is what psychologists call doing what you enjoy doing. When a task that was once fun is now tied to a reward, the task often becomes tedious unless a reward mechanism is attached. Study after study has shown that people who believe they are working for a reward feel controlled by it. If we are to receive a reward for our efforts, this is tantamount to concluding that the task is unpleasant and that it is necessary to be bribed. From the youngest student to the most experienced worker, rewards force us to focus narrowly on a task, to do it as quickly as possible and to take few risks. This to Kohn “is death to innovation and artistic exploration” (33).

Are boys better at math than girls?

Recent studies have concluded that out of a total of four million subjects in over 100 published studies, that girls have a slight advantage in math during elementary and middle school. However, come High School, boys regain the advantage in the United States, which also happens when students are given some latitude in choosing their courses.

The more recent the study the smaller the differences of mathematical ability that are measured between the sexes. Most recent studies refute biological differences between boys and girls. For example, in areas other than math, boys have closed the gap in such “female” areas as language and spelling.

Studies of parental views,
however, reveal that mothers still believe girls were better at reading than boys, and this may affect the way boys and girls direct their academic efforts.

Does competition build character?

Kohn is unable to find any study that supports the idea that competition builds character. Rather, available research refutes the idea. Researchers have found that athletic competition, for example, limits personal growth in some areas. Students who participate in competitive sports often suffer from depression, extreme stress and relatively shallow relationships.

Kohn sees as ludicrous that character – as defined by tenacity or discipline – is forged by engaging in activities where one person or team can become successful at the expense of the other. Indeed, competition can destroy self confidence. A 1981 study revealed that competitive teenagers are less likely than their peers to believe that they can control the events that affect their lives. Children tend to have higher self esteem when they can cooperate with each other rather than competing against one another. According to Kohn, study after study shows that “competition produces people who are less generous and empathetic, less trusting and sensitive to the needs of others, less likely to see things from someone else’s point of view, and less likely to use higher moral reasoning than those who are not competing” (83).

Do kids read less because they are addicted to television?

Kohn’s analysis of various studies steers to the same conclusion: Despite “demeaning, vapid and violent” programming that may contribute to increased aggressiveness and obesity, television has no effect on reading nor academic achievement.

In studies conducted in the 1980s with over two million children, the two activities (reading and television viewing) were rarely substituted for one
another. However, a 1982 compilation of twenty-three studies did show that to a limited degree for girls and children, grades went down if television
viewing was over ten hours per week. As a side note, watching fewer hours of television was associated with better performance in school than watching
none at all.

The idea that television is a mindless form of entertainment has little
empirical support. Kohn argues that most studies conclude that young children do not watch television passively but generally stay mentally active while doing so.

Perhaps the most striking result of television viewing is that the more it is watched the more likely that person has a dismal view of human nature.
Despite this increase in cynicism, an absence of television viewing does not
correlate with an increase in reading.

Does grouping kids by ability help them to learn better?

Kohn does not hold back any punches when he maintains that grouping students by ability is a “terrible idea” (166). Both national and international
studies have shown that overall school achievement does not go up when
students are segregated by ability. Some research does show marginal academic improvement when kids are placed in the top groups. Kohn attributes this to a more enriched curriculum and to better teachers. However, students placed in the lowest groups tend to “live down” to expectations of their achievement, or rather, lack of achievement. Students from the same socio-economic backgrounds tend to perform better in mixed academic groups than homogenous ones.

If this system is so counterproductive and unfair, then why is it so
prevalent in American schools? The answer may be that upper level teachers
and the parents of upper track students prefer it this way. Nevertheless,
hundreds of studies have shown that children who are encouraged to help each other learn-rather than work individually or compete against one another-end up achieving more.

Alfie Kohn’s You Know What They Say… : The Truth About Popular Beliefs


Using humor and armed with expert studies Alfie Kohn attempts to question some of most basic beliefs on a variety of subjects.  With respect to education Kohn tackles some major issues and assumptions, such as do rewards motivate people? Are boys better at math than girls? Does competition build character? Do kids read less because they are addicted to television?  Does grouping students by ability help them learn better?  Kohn’s synthesis and critique of various studies-whose attempts at science are often times dubious-prove for some surprising results.

Do rewards motivate people?

The Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner popularized the theory of  positive reinforcement, which maintains that presenting a reward after a desired behavior will make that behavior more like to occur in the future.

Kohn sees this assumption as problematic when trying to encourage people to be creative. In effect, when rewards are tied to behavior, they can be
counterproductive.

Why should this be the case? Kohn uses the term “intrinsic motivation,” which is what psychologists call doing what you enjoy doing. When a task that was once fun is now tied to a reward, the task often becomes tedious unless a reward mechanism is attached.

It is well known that people do everything well when they are happy and joyful while doing it. You can enjoy doing anything if it has some value for you. For example, if you take up online trading, it is only enjoyable if you perceive it as something of value. Navigate to this website if you need more information, enjoyment, and motivation.

Study after study has shown that people who believe they are working for a reward feel controlled by it. If we are to receive a reward for our efforts, this is tantamount to concluding that the task is unpleasant and that it is necessary to be bribed. From the youngest student to the most experienced worker, rewards force us to focus narrowly on a task, to do it as quickly as possible and to take few risks. This to Kohn “is death to innovation and artistic exploration” (33).

Are boys better at math than girls?

Recent studies have concluded that out of a total of four million subjects in over 100 published studies, that girls have a slight advantage in math during elementary and middle school. However, come High School, boys regain the advantage in the United States, which also happens when students are given some latitude in choosing their courses.

The more recent the study the smaller the differences of mathematical ability that are measured between the sexes. Most recent studies refute biological differences between boys and girls. For example, in areas other than math, boys have closed the gap in such “female” areas as language and spelling.

Studies of parental views, however, reveal that mothers still believe girls were better at reading than boys, and this may affect the way boys and girls direct their academic efforts.

Does competition build character?

Kohn is unable to find any study that supports the idea that competition builds character. Rather, available research refutes the idea. Researchers have found that athletic competition, for example, limits personal growth in some areas. Students who participate in competitive sports often suffer from depression, extreme stress and relatively shallow relationships.

Kohn sees as ludicrous that character-as defined by tenacity or discipline-is forged by engaging in activities where one person or team can become successful at the expense of the other. Indeed, competition can destroy self confidence. A 1981 study revealed that competitive teenagers are less likely than their peers to believe that they can control the events that affect their lives. Children tend to have higher self esteem when they can cooperate with each other rather than competing against one another. According to Kohn, study after study shows that “competition produces people who are less generous and empathetic, less trusting and sensitive to the needs of others, less likely to see things from someone else’s point of view, and less likely to use higher moral reasoning than those who are not competing” (83).

Do kids read less because they are addicted to television?

Kohn’s analysis of various studies steers to the same conclusion: despite “demeaning, vapid and violent” programming that may contribute to increased aggressiveness and obesity, television has no effect on reading nor academic achievement.

In studies conducted in the 1980s with over two million children, the two activities (reading and television viewing) were rarely substituted for one another. However, a 1982 compilation of twenty-three studies did show that to a limited degree for girls and children, grades went down if television
viewing was over ten hours per week. As a side note, watching fewer hours of television was associated with better performance in school than watching none at all.

The idea that television is a mindless form of entertainment has little empirical support. Kohn argues that most studies conclude that young children do not watch television passively but generally stay mentally active while doing so.

Perhaps the most striking result of television viewing is that the more it is watched the more likely that person has a dismal view of human nature. Despite this increase in cynicism, an absence of television viewing does not correlate with an increase in reading.

Does grouping kids by ability help them to learn better?

Kohn does not hold back any punches when he maintains that grouping students by ability is a “terrible idea” (166). Both national and international studies have shown that overall school achievement does not go up when students are segregated by ability. Some research does show marginal academic improvement when kids are placed in the top groups. Kohn attributes this to a more enriched curriculum and to better teachers. However, students placed in the lowest groups tend to “live down” to expectations of their achievement, or rather, lack of achievement. Students from the same socio-economic backgrounds tend to perform better in mixed academic groups than homogenous ones.

If this system is so counterproductive and unfair, then why is it so prevalent in American schools? The answer may be that upper level teachers and the parents of upper track students prefer it this way. Nevertheless, hundreds of studies have shown that children who are encouraged to help each other learn-rather than work individually or compete against one another-end up achieving more.

Monetary Ideas Buyers Should Be Aware Of

Financial matters affect each snapshot of our lives since, in reality, it is an investigation of decisions and how and why we create them. Here we will take a gander at the essential social ideas that everybody ought to get it.

 

Shortage:

You verifiably comprehend shortage, in case you know about it or not. It is an essential idea in financial aspects, and it is all the more a strong truth than any reflection. Basically, society has restricted intends to meet boundless needs, hence see here to find a decision to be created.

 

Free market activity:

The market framework is controlled by free market activity. Outrageous and streamlined precedents encapsulate the great exercise in careful control that is free market activity. The market is commonly significantly aware in actuality, and genuine supply stuns are uncommon, somewhere around ones affected by the market are uncommon.

 

Expenses and Benefit:

The idea of expenses and advantages envelops a vast territory of financial aspects that have to do with judicious desires and levelheaded decisions. In any circumstance, individuals are probably going to settle on the decision that has the most advantageous to them, with the slightest expense, in other words, the decision that gives more in advantages than in expenses. This stretches out a long ways past money related exchanges. Expenses and advantages may not control your mind constantly. However, they are in control more than you might suspect.

 

Included in Incentives:

Incentives are a piece of expenses and advantages and objective desires, yet they are significant to the point that they are worth extended testing. It drives the world as we know it, and here and there turn out badly. As they are lined up with authoritative objectives, however, the advantages can be remarkable. A few motivating forces have been demonstrated so successfully that they are regular practice at numerous organizations. Anyways, even these motivators can become unfortunate if the requirements for the impetuses drops crooked with the first objective.

 

Assembling it up:

The shortage is the all-encompassing topic of all financial matters. It seems contradictory, and it is the reason financial aspects is alluded to as the dreary science, yet it essentially implies that decisions must be created. These decisions are chosen by the expenses and advantages that affect the decision, prompting an active market framework where decisions happen through free market activity.

 

On an individual dimension, it implies that we need to settle on decisions dependent on the motivating forces we are extended and the expense and advantages of various approaches. This is an extremely expansive perception which is an exceptionally convincing topic.