Archive for the ‘learning’ Tag

The Summer Camp “Arms Race”   Leave a comment

So I stole the title from an article in the August 11 issue of The Economist.  You probably know people who send their kids to multiple summer camps.  There are apparently still camps that include nature and campfires, but around the world, those who have enough money are sending their children to better camps.  According to the article, the end goal in a lot of different cases is getting into college.  And apparently getting into the camps themselves is also competitive.  Canada/USA Mathcamp admits just 15% of applicants.  Nine year olds in London can attend a technology summer camp for only 1,700 US dollars.  Nine.  Years. Old.

Then there’s the kids in South Korea who are practicing debate by discussing whether plastic surgery should be banned, in the English language, of course.  This sounds like a fun way to spend the summer–if your parents’ ultimate goal is again, the best colleges.  Did I mention these are eight and nine-year olds?

What’s that all about?

Even twenty years ago it wasn’t like this.  Fifty years ago it certainly wasn’t.

I’m not saying there’s nothing good to be gained from experiences at niche camps.  I’m not saying we can necessarily go backwards in time.

But people, I just don’t understand what this rat race is about.  Or, if you prefer the term The Economist uses, what this arms race is about.

Why isn’t anyone hearing common sense or the research that says that time for free, pretend play and time for outdoor play and time to just be is absolutely necessary for human development?

Why is it necessary to make sure your children are better than the rest?  In this world, can you even have a life in which you’re content?  How did this happen?

Are there just too many of us?

 

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Posted September 6, 2018 by swanatbagend in identity, learning

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The Best Way to Learn a Subject   Leave a comment

When a child has trouble with a subject at school or difficulty learning to read, what is the go-to way to address the problem?

When a person wants to learn to play a musical instrument, how is that usually accomplished?

When a high school student wants to up her chances of doing really well on a particular AP exam or getting the best score on college admissions tests, how does she go about doing so (aside from studying hard)?

The answer to all the previous questions is simple.  You get a tutor.  You get a teacher.   Repeat.

When you’re evaluating a school or college what is one fact the admissions office always wants you to know, especially if their statistic is especially impressive?  It’s that student/teacher ratio–the lower, the better.

Everyone knows that a one-on-one session is the best way for a person to learn a new subject or get the help he needs to truly understand and move forward in his studies.  And, when there are too many students in a class, it is generally agreed this is an obstacle to effective teaching.  Parents will start fretting if they find out their children are going to be in a classroom with a large number of other students.

So, if that is all true, why is there still resistance to one-on-one, one-on-two, one-on-three teaching?  Why is there concern that students in these tutoring environments are somehow getting shortchanged or even damaged?

If tutoring is the gold standard, the best way to remediate a knowledge shortage, why isn’t it crystal clear that homeschooling meets that criteria?

Posted April 11, 2018 by swanatbagend in learning

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Fighting Alzheimer’s Every School Day   Leave a comment

You know what they say.  The more you can keep your brain active and working as you age, the less likely that you will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

I have always thought that homeschooling parents have a leg up on this goal.  Our brains are working every day by definition.  I know that teaching division, Algebra I, history and more does a lot for me.  It may not be a Sudoku or a crossword, but I think it meets the goal of doing a task that is mentally challenging.

While I have stuck with the same core curriculum through the years, the curriculum company has made some text changes as time has gone by.  With each student, when I either purchase the new teacher’s manual or look at the current book list, I can see they have pulled out a few books (some I was glad to see go, such as The Dark Frigate; most I was sorry to see go) and added some new ones.

This year in the American history course we read World War II and How it Affects you Today: The Rest of the StoryWhatever Happened to Penny Candy? by the same author was a helpful explanation of economics, inflation and all those esoteric topics, and I have now read that twice and will read again with my youngest student this school year, but I had not read anything by this author on war history.

Because it looked quite different from the standard historian’s view of the whys and wherefores of WWII, I told my daughter she could read the fiction selection by herself for this time period; I was definitely reading World War II out loud with her.

What an eye opener.  Disagreeing with the standard explanations of why the US got into WWII, the author makes a case against the idea that the Germans and Japanese were such vicious fighting machines that England and our other allies would have been destroyed without our help.

Potentially changing the way you see the world and considering the possibility that what you’ve been led to believe is false will keep a mind active.

Another way I’ve been keeping Alzheimer’s at bay is learning to play chess.

At my age, it’s difficult to retain all the rules.  And even when I do remember exactly what moves each of my pieces can make, that does not mean that I will notice what dangers I’m moving them into.  I am planning ahead, checking out possible dangers for the square I have in mind, coming up with long-term strategies for taking my opponent’s queen and getting at his king: all that stuff.  It’s just not working yet.

What really makes it embarrassing is that the person teaching me is ten years old.  I lost my queen to him in our play yesterday in the course of ten minutes tops.

And no, I’m not letting him win.  It’s just happening.

But I can be a good sport.

At least I’m fighting the loss of brain cells!

 

Posted February 26, 2015 by swanatbagend in learning

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