Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Julia's Naive (but very real) Response

What you both need to understand from my background is that TJED was my very first exposure to this style of thinking (other than being married to J.). So, the fact that I LOVED every aspect of this book and drank it like a thirsty baby is not too hard to believe.

However, as I have read, researched and experimented with many different types of educaiton styles in the last several years, I would like to say:

a) it is not up to the teachers to teach better, it's up to the partents - - but I still wish there were some way to change the current system. For instance, why do I keep hearing other countries are so far beyond us in their education systems (note: this has not been personally researched, it is on my "list of things to study", but I've heard it from sources who have lived in other countries and then moved back to the States...feel free to argue the point).

b) DeMille's ideas and philosophies are NOT the one an only way to teach ( I do not use his overall methods, nor do I plan to, just the basic ideas of reading and writing)

c) I wish his book were NOT geared toward homeschooling because it would be an effective method to get into the public school systems (at least, the basis of the theory)

d) I must also thank the both of you for your comments on comparing....I really needed the vent and validation! :-) Again, I think it boils down to raising confident children. How do we teach them HOW to think? For me, TJED has a good start on this. If we can teach them HOW to think, they will be confident & then not worry about the thoughts of others (as their mother does!).

Sorry, that's all I have time for today. :-)



Kami said...

In response to your comment about America's schools being behind other countries schools, I have researched it--it was the subject of a 20 pg paper I wrote. Basically, when they say US is ranked 18th, 22nd, etc, they usually only vary percentage wise from those higher ranking countries by .2% and the like. (Okay I totally made up those numbers but that's the general idea.) Also, most other countries like Japan only make their top 10% of students take those exams while the in the US everyone takes them. Or like in Britain, early on in high school kids chose different tracks (college bound, vocational edu, etc) and only those college bound students take those tests. U.S. offers far greater chance for kids who haven't done well in school to improve and go to college than the UK. It's possible there, I have a friend from England who's brother had to work like crazy for slacking off when a teenager to be able to get into college later. Her husband's from France, and he said if her brother had been in France he never would have made it to college in the end. So, the supposedly better European education has it's limitations too. Also, in the US, there's so many racial, social, economic, and cultural differences in the population and they're all supposed to be educated to the same level. You don't see that in the much lauded Southeast Asia countries, only the rich go to school there and then they have private tutors. In fact, the reports that I read described most kids sleeping through school, cramming late each night with tutors for the life or death college entrance exams and suffering from extremely high depression and suicide rates. Also most Asian schools focus solely on math, reading and science. Which while important, is not all to life as far as I'm concerned, or most people in the United States as evidenced by the usually varied curriculum offered at our public schools. I do think US doesn't make students work hard at all! My husband thought high school here was a joke when he came as a foreign exchange student and in one year he completed 2 grade levels despite only speaking minimal English. I think that's why so many students here have such a hard transition to university, because most universities (in my opinion) still maintain high standards of work. Anyway that's my two bits.

Andrea said...


I have to comment on this because it drives me crazy that people believe the blatantly misleading education "statistics" that get bandied around. Kami pointed out the most obvious problems with comparing different nations. There is something she missed:

Many countries focus almost solely on math and science so their students do score higher than our entire student body taken as a whole. They do not score better than our top ten percent (which is about the percentage who go to schools in the Asian countries people always talk about). Also, America is still justly famous for teaching children how to problem-solve better than most countries. We are still the primary innovators, outside the box thinkers, and initiative takers. Many Asian countries are in the process of dismantling their current education systems and restructuring them to closer resemble America's system for that very reason.

Again--it boils down to the purpose of education. If you really want our country to dominate (by that I mean score the .03 percent higher than the next country, which, by the way, is not considered statistically significant) in math and science scores, than all we have to do is cut out all our other programs and teach math and science all day long.

It isn't going to happen. And it shouldn't happen. All that blather you hear about America having a terrible education system is ridiculous and usually politically motivated.

Also, America still has most of the best universities in the world. Which, as Kami pointed out, creates a bit (sarcasm) of a shock when our lazy high schoolers start their college careers.

Juwmama said...

Okay, so when I said, "feel free to argue the point" I guess you took it seriously! hee-hee :-)

It is all true - - unfortunately, I was one of those "lazy high schoolers" who got by doing NOTHING and had a huge adjustment to make upon entering college. You don't know how many times I wish I could go back and take American Heritage at BYU all over again!!! There are several classes, really, that I wish I could have taken over. BUT, having the thought that "school is easy" and learning came from doing nothing, I was a tad bit overwhelmed with the studying I had to do but didn't know how to do.

So, what do we do? In this situation I don't really see how it can be strictly up to the parents to teach their children this aspect of education. In my experience, I had maybe four teachers in high school that I actually wanted to do well to impress, who EXPECTED me to do better than I was actually doing. THREE out of 24!? That seems a little absurd to me. I do NOT want to knock the teachers, because I really and honestly admire the teaching profession whole heartedly, I'm just wondering.....

Not everyone can have Andrea as their teacher! :-)

Andrea said...


That is a valid point. I also got by in high school doing literally nothing. Even my AP history class and all my "advanced" classes didn't challenge me. I read constantly, sang the rest of the time, and that is what I remember about high school.

So--if you and I and most other students in America are never expected to perform to any sort of rigorous standard (or any standard really), and federal legislation like No Child Left Behind isn't going to change that, and teachers aren't going to change that (at least, not without a major push by parents), than what can parents do?

I know you already asked that question, I was just restating it for my own benefit. Because this is where my thinking about homeschooling gets all muddled. For all practical purposes my useless high school years didn't affect my post-high school education that much. I had a really hard adjustment to college, but I stepped up and did the work and was successful. So--should I just let my kids go through the system because they can still be successful despite major flaws in the system?

Or, should I try to homeschool them the whole time? Is that the only solution to teaching our teenagers about work and achievement and responsibility? Is that the only way to keep them from going mainstream "teenager?"

Every time I start thinking about this too long I end up deciding I am just going to have to home school them forever. And then I talk to people like Debbie Bowen who had ten kids and said she put her kids into school in 9th grade because she was too busy and too tired and homeschooling intensifies motherhood by 200%. I haven't homeschooled so I don't know if that is true, but I can't imagine that it is not.

The take it one year at a time approach is fine, but if I REALLY believe that my children need to have a better education that they are getting in the public schools than am I going to end up feeling like a failure if I put them back in school at some point?

Can I teach my children enough during the middle school years that they will maximize their high school experience because they feel responsible for their own education?

I don't know.

All I know is that I bought Miriam and Cowen nature journals today at Michael's and Commonplace books (for $1 each, lined journals, yeah!), and Miriam has been having SO MUCH FUN doing her math book and we've been reading The Box Car Children, and talking about how seeds grow in the garden. And quite frankly, this is fun. LOTS OF FUN!! And I wonder if people who send their kids to kindergarten really realize what they are giving up.

Then again, Miriam reminded me last night that when I yell the Holy Ghost leaves the house.

Thanks, Miriam. Glad I taught you that.