Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education - Part II

One of the parts of this book that I found very intriguing was when the author, Oliver Van DeMille, discussed the most common type of education in America today. He termed it the "conveyor belt method". See if this sounds familiar:

"Most public schools use what I call the "Soviet conveyor belt method. They are set up like a factory: everyone in the class gets the same education at the same age from the same textbooks and they are tested the same and graded based upon the same scale regardless of their individual interests, talents or goals.

In this system you go down the factory line, first grade, second grade, third grade, with a factory worker at each station, being assembled with certain parts (the curriculum) at a certain point in a certain way from a common book or manual. Of course, all of the products (students) are fitted with the same parts (called "education") as everyone else on the conveyor belt. When you finish the twelfth grade, you get a stamp (diploma) on your forehead signifying that you are a finished product ready to be sold to the job market.

The Soviet part of it is that standards and grade levels are set at a low enough level that virtually everyone can get through and be a finished product. What happens if you try to get ahead? A factory worker moves you back into place. What happens if you get behind? A "special" worker pulls you up to speed." (p. 25)

I know that this is the kind of education I received. I definitely was taught well how to play the game. You did your work, spit it back on the test, got good grades and never really asked too many questions. I was one of those students who really didn't care why I was learning something, I just wanted to learn it well enough to get a good grade on the test. I remember trying to help my brother with Algebra and he kept asking me why I was doing what I was doing. My response was, "I don't know, this is just what you are supposed to do!" Needless to say, he never really did well with math because there was no one there to take the time to explain the "why" to him.

Unfortunately, since I was schooled in this type of system, this was all I knew. When it came time to begin homeschooling my own children, I looked to the only model I had and set up the public school in my own home. It worked for a while, but as I added more children to our school, I began to see the flaws in the system and that is when I began my quest for the something better that I knew had to be out there.

Tomorrow I'd like to share with you a section on what happens when you require and not inspire your children to learn.

God Bless!