Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Recycled Educational Philosophies..

I read an article this weekend entitled "The End of Grade Levels."

It is about a school in Colorado where students will be grouped into multi-age levels based on what they already know and will move up when they master the material at that level. [Wow! what a concept!]

Some "experts" are saying that this makes sense and many districts are hesitant. One expert from New York was quoted as saying, "It's very hard to get people to believe in something new."

NEW?

Have they never read Little House on the Prairie? Have they never studied early American History? I almost laughed out loud--NEW! Why this is not new at all.

When a new little pioneer child walked into the school for the first time he was not asked how old he was, but what reader [as in McGuffey] he was in. If you were 7 or 9, it really did not matter. If you were in the first reader, that is the group you studied with. When you mastered the first reader, you moved on to the 2nd reader. This explains why sometimes there was a 16 year old teacher who had 16 year old pupils.

How about Understood Betsy? Published in 1917 it is the inspiring story of a little girl who is transformed by love and understanding. There is a wonderful chapter called "What Grade is Betsy" where Elizabeth Ann [Betsy before she really became herself] says to her new teacher, "I don't know what I am at all. If I'm in second-grade arithmetic and seventh-grade reading and 3rd grade spelling, what grade am I?"

The teacher laughed, "You aren't any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You're just yourself, aren't you? What difference does it make what grade you're in? And what's the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don't know your multiplication tables?"

Later, referring to this incident, the book says of Betsy, "She had always thought she was there to pass from one grade to another, and she was ever so startled to get a glimpse of the fact that she was there to learn how to read and write and cipher and generally use her mind so she could take care of herself when she came to be grown up."

Ahh, new indeed. This, like just about every other educational philosophy is not new--it is old and is being recycled for the 21st century. Homeschoolers I encourage you, keep on doing what you are doing. Don't get caught up thinking the educational experts have it all figured out. They don't. They recycle ideas regularly. They could learn from you.

Imagine...

starting where the child is and with what he knows and having him progress in his learning?? It is something homeschoolers have know and practiced for years. It is kind of nice to see the "Professional educators" finally catching on.

And, if you haven't read "Understood Betsy," by Dorothy Candfield Fisher, I think you would enjoy it-it starts a little slow, but is a very rewarding read and if you have a child to read it to, so much the better.


Take care,
Jill

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant observation. You are so right on!

    ~Luke

    ReplyDelete