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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Attention-deficit curriculum

I woke up early this morning, worrying.

It had been an unusually full day. I was in and out of my car eight times. It would have been ten, but my husband ran one errand for me, literally getting out of my car and into his.

So much running leaves me revved up.

Another part of my insomnia recipe came from falling into a conversation after yoga class with a long-time high school teacher (who did not home school) and a former teacher/long-time home schooling parent. They shared a concern about how kids need to know how to write and understand science and math and how it will all be accomplished with no oversight or discipline. Michigan is liberal about home schooling. We don't test; we don't report; we don't track. Nothing.

It's great--until you encounter education-based people who question it. Then I wind up questioning it...and myself...and everything I'm doing (or have not done).

Hence the waking at 2 AM. Great. I'm up for the day after 3 hours of sleep. At least the web is available to pacify my panic. While reading homeschooling quotes, I scroll past a link to Core Knowledge Requirements. This is a free downloadable "booklet" that details what every child should know from K - 8th grade.

I am simultaneously relieved and reluctant to know -- how far off are we? Have we been swimming casually in a fast-flowing stream destined to pull us over a precipice?

Scrolling and skimming through the grades, a thought occurs: these subjects are disjointed.

In Grade 4, students are to jump from the Middle Ages to the American Revolution.
No Renaissance?
No Enlightenment?
How can you get to America without the Enlightenment?

The student is to simultaneously remember the events predating our country's history while learning about the country's history. It's not impossible. It just seems rushed.Why not get there logically? Is there a middle school deadline that says not knowing the Revolution by age twelve leaves one impaired?

Grade 4 students also learn the elements of music, the circulatory system, basic chemistry, electricity, and geology. The musicians cited in the music section are from the period of history that is skipped. Then students learn the Songs of the Armed Forces. Whaaaat?

This is a buckshot approach -- here, throw this and that and this-other-thing at them. See what sticks.

Does this catch-all approach, this jumping around, have any influence on the ADHD epidemic? The curriculum can't focus; how do they expect the kids to focus?

Perhaps I'm not doing so badly after all.

Now I have a standard to check whether they are sufficiently educated, even if I'm not teaching every subject separately. They can write about science (there's a chance for research, grammar & organization). They can learn music and art along with the history -- Here's Ancient China, and here are examples of Chinese music and Chinese art.

For those times I worry they are not learning enough, I can pull out that Core Knowledge List and look up something random. "As we wrap up the Roman Empire, here's a folksong from the 1930s..."

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