Friday, August 14, 2015

An Unlikely Academic Success? Why Individualization is a Better Idea Than Common Standards

My 2nd youngest child went back to college today at Appalachian State to start her senior year. She has classes this fall semester, and then an internship next spring, and she'll graduate in May. Four years of college has flown by! Now, one thing I didn't realize until today is that she is "ahead" of her classmates, meaning most people in her major (child development) have 2 semesters of classes and then the internship to do after that. I'm a bit astounded, because she did her freshman year at ECU and then transferred, and had to repeat one of her Gen Ed classes that wasn't accepted because she changed majors. So even with that, she managed to get all her college classes done in 7 semesters. Anyone with college kids knows this is somewhat of a feat, because colleges will tell you at orientation nowadays that most students take 5 years, or 10 semesters,  to complete a major. Not all classes are offered when you need them.    When I asked her how that was possible, she smirked and said, "Nobody really knows."  Then she shrugged, admitting that she did take 18 credit hours just about every semester, so that's how she got it all in.

I am not saying this to boast.  I want to make an important point to you homeschool mamas out there who have kids who are struggling, or "behind", or late readers, or whatever.  This gal, who managed 18 hours per semester ( not all A's mind you - she has a B's and C's in there too, and likes to remind me that "C's get Degrees!"), has held a campus job each semester, also worked one semester as an RA, is president of her church's college group, and  enjoys hiking, lying in her hammock, and watching lots of Netflix, couldn't read  a chapter book until she was almost 12 years old.  She took 2 years to get through 6th grade math because fractions threw her for a loop.  Algebra was not her friend, she had a hard time with  high school Spanish,  and she took 3 years to barely squeak through high school chemistry.  This is not your typical "academic" kid.

 However, she has always been very creative, enjoying art and music. She loved playing volleyball and basketball.   Although it took a while to click, by high school she was a fairly strong reader. And she was a natural leader, had a lot of friends, and loved working with children.    She has very specific gifts and talents, but isn't good at EVERYTHING.  She took a year off after high school to "decompress" and figure out what she wanted to do.  She will freely admit that she chose a college major that wouldn't require too much math or science beyond the basic gen ed requirements.   She is a success at what she is choosing to do! 

Because we homeschooled, we took the time to slowly work through the areas that were the most difficult, even if it took more than one "school year". We worked hard not to stigmatize, so there was no shame in going at her own speed!   We found or made opportunities for her to grow in the areas where she was talented, and very importantly, didn't prevent her from doing those things because her grades weren't high enough!  (isn't that what happens in schools?  sports, the arts,  social activities. etc. are off-limits if you don't have certain grades? Even many parents impose this rule, as "motivation".)  Think outside the box.   Each of us is unique in how we learn and in what we are good at, and education should be individualized to allow each person to succeed at their own pace, in what they are gifted in!  This is one reason I so strongly oppose Common Core Standards and the philosophy behind it.

Our goal should be to teach our children how to learn, and to inspire our children to love learning!   That isn't the same as loving "school".   Be gentle and persistent in working on weaknesses, but don't neglect the areas that are strengths.  Just because your child doesn't like something, that doesn't mean they shouldn't learn it. But it might be that there is a different WAY to learn it.  Or a different PART of it to learn that will make sense for your child.  Always, pray for guidance and wisdom.


1 comment:

LoriAnne said...

Thanks Beth. That was very encouraging. You have such a gift for putting your thoughts into words :)