Tests Do Not Tell All…

The boys are testing this week. Testing to see not only what they know, but how well they have been taught. Those in the schools…well, the teachers are being tested as well. I know in some areas these tests bring stress and anxiety and frustration; there is pressure to do well.

I told the boys not to worry and to have fun. I told them I’m not worried a bit…I know they are bright and I know they are learning, and I know this year will be a bit different since we began homeschool. We are using a different curriculum, and I know that will show, especially in math.

They are relaxed and they are not worried about the results, although they know I expect them to do their best.

Yesterday I saw a video and it has been on my mind since. See, I know there are loads of opinions on education, and I know that not one way is necessarily the correct way for everyone. We’ve chosen homeschool for this season, and we have done so for a number of reasons. I am excited about this venture, and I am hopeful. I truly think this is the best option for us, and I think there are some opportunities in the homeschool arena that simply can’t happen in the classroom.  Opportunities to pause the syllabus and explore.

That is a touchy issue because some people feel judged just by my saying that…my choice for our family can frustrate others who have not made the same choice. Some think that I am making a statement about public education or private education…and I am,  to some degree. Still, because I have found our niche and am celebrating that does not mean that another’s choice is worse. I have friends who have children flourishing in public school and friends with children flourishing in private school.

Here is the real thrust of my thinking, though, and here is where this video comes into the discussion.

My kids, all boys at this point for the discussion of education, get bored easily. They are not avid readers or avid ‘learners’ and there are many days in the classroom or at home where they just want to get through the material so they can get on to something fun.

That bothers me.

I love to learn, and I love education. I know I didn’t always…but I have found that I love learning about people and about places…I love reading and I love learning new things.

I want them to catch that. I want them to see learning as something vital and alive and filled with wonder and imagination and truth…and not drudgery.  It can be drudgery in the classroom, in the home, wherever. The same education can be exciting and grab our attention…in the home or in the classroom.

I am not completely sure how this will play out, but I know that something is stirring in me about how I approach teaching the children. There are still facts they have to learn, and sometimes those facts are drudgery. There will, however, be things that will grab their attention and spark something…and those things need to be given the room to grow and the space to breathe.

When something makes them sit up and makes their eyes sparkle and makes them talk excitedly, I need to pay attention. I need to be listening for that moment, and I need to breathe life into that spark. 

That doesn’t happen in testing. That doesn’t happen in drudgery. That requires attention and the flexibility to give room to that interest. The hope is that as that interest sparks learning, the enjoyment of learning will spread to the other subjects.

There has to be room for imagination and for experiments.

And for failure.

And for play.

Space to find out that actually, I don’t care at all about this subject.

Testing doesn’t make that room.  I am not saying that testing is meaningless; we do need to know that our kids are learning the necessities. I am saying that our kids are so much more than the testing reveals.  I love this video because the young man is obviously bright and intelligent and creative and passionate. He is not saying education is meaningless…he is saying to pay attention to that spark and not just learn because you have to learn a set of facts.

Give room for that love of learning without suffocating it with facts that become drudgery.  

I am not good at this yet…I still make it drudgery sometimes. I can remember my teachers who were able to grab my attention and I can remember when the realization began to take hold that learning is really amazing. This is an amazing world filled with some pretty incredibly stories and people and facts and wonders…that is what I want to convey.

 

Check out this video, and thanks to my friend Tina Hunter for posting it, and then watch the one after as well. I want my boys to think like this…I want them to think and to challenge and to explore, not just to prepare for tests.

 

Update: I have to add something, as I’ve been thinking about this through the day. I have to add that I have so much respect for my friends who are teachers…who are able to create an atmosphere of creativity and individuality in the classroom. Those teachers who make our children feel special, who truly care about the children they teach…those are some special teachers! I know that there are many who have made an impact on my kids…and on our family as a result. There are many teachers who are simply tired, and many who are restricted and find themselves in a difficult position to try and create a unique environment. So, I wanted to add that I know there are not simple answers to how we inspire our children…and whether we homeschool or have kids in school, we have to continue the learning throughout our family life.

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8 thoughts on “Tests Do Not Tell All…

  1. Chuck and I also saw how our decision to homeschool led to others’ feeling judged. Sadly, it even led to a fading away of a few friendships. But it was the best choice (for us) that we ever made! I enjoy reading about your experiences, Sarah. Keep on trucking!

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  2. sarahkwolfe says:

    Lisa…we’ve got to figure out a way, especially as Christians, to support one another’s decisions and not feel made-less-than by someone else.

    I have had some make me feel ignorant and simple for homeschooling…and I know before we began this I encountered some who thought you were a heathen if your kids went to ‘regular’ school.

    There is so much room for different approaches…and I know some have strong beliefs on their kids being in public school to be a presence for the Gospel.

    We need to support each other in our options…but the thing that really got me in these videos is this educating “just because”. We’ve got to be engaging our kids, wherever they are being taught.

    Thanks for your encouragement!!!

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  3. Dava Brown Eaton says:

    Amen Sarah, Justice is one who gets bored so easily and only when the “fun side a.k.a engaging side of the learning” is introduced does she even half way retain it. I completely agree that education is your own personal family choice and when you know your children you do what’s best for them. Thank you for sharing this. Once again you have blessed me.

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    • sarahkwolfe says:

      Thanks, Dava!! You were always so good to my Sammy in his class!!

      I think I am beginning to hit that point with Zachary, who is finishing up his 6th grade year, where I want him to understand that there is joy in working hard to learn. These kids are so used to being entertained that we have to find that balance of education being something that requires effort…but not drudgery. Yes…it is fun when it becomes engaging!

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  4. Sarah,
    As one who has taught in both public and private schools, and whose children are homeschooled, I’m so with you. There isn’t one right way. The Bible encourages us to train up a child in the way he, the child, should go…and that takes knowing the bent of your child, and what is or is not working for him. Your boys are blessed. You sound like a wonderful teacher!

    Oh…and don’t get me started on testing. 😉

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    • sarahkwolfe says:

      Hi Cap’n!! So nice to see your face here!!

      This is such a tough issue because it evokes so many emotions in us.

      I’m thrilled to be doing what we are doing, and yet I also know that we may change gears at some point and do something different. I’m thankful that there are so many options…and there are ways to make each option flourish.

      Thanks for coming by…and thanks for the compliments!

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