This is one of those 'better late than never' blogs, I'm afraid. I had it all set to go this morning, but ran into technical difficulties--not an uncommon occurance in my world.
Hope everyone enjoyed a great Father's Day yesterday--especially all you Pa's out there who are SO important to the fabric of our family-life! And don't believe anyone who tells ya any different!
Well, our spectacular-day streak took a nose-dive yesterday into rainy drizzle and it appears that's what we're in for the rest of the week. Great for the garden, though! We went over to the Post farm where they had a sick horse--that didn't appear she was gonna make it on Sat.--but she was much better yesterday. Big relief for them--she's a really sweet saddle-bred that still has many good years in her.
Anyhoo, Homeschool Hoorah! I had some time yesterday afternoon and I was adding some info to the homeschool pages. I've been wanting to find out more on what these standardized tests are all about--and boy! did I ever stumble upon some intriguing stuff that I really hope all of you homeschooling families out there find very encouraging--I sure do!
How many of you have heard of the 30-year award-winning veteran New York public school teacher, John T. Gatto, who stunned everyone with his acceptance speech for the Teacher of the Year Award? In a very small nutshell, he basically told parents that he was paid to ruin their children and proceeded to spend the rest of his lengthy speech describing exactly how he (and any teacher enmesehd in the public schools) went about this ruining of said children. Not quite the speech everyone was expecting! You can read more about that here.
I happened to be perusing some articles over on Mary Pride's Home School World when I suddenly stumbled onto her interview with John Gatto. In this interview he, in fact, talked about standardized tests. This is a bit of his take on these tests:
MP: OK, let's talk briefly about the implications, because if we, as homeschoolers, end up teaching to those same standardized tests, and doing the same kind of things they're doing in the public schools . . .
JTG: It's madness. First of all, if you have a good education under way, you don't need to worry about standardized tests. They're really pitched on a fairly primitive level, and test after test of homeschoolers who never studied for standardized tests shows that they score better than schooled kids . . .
MP: That's exactly the problem. See, if your kid is already scoring 95 percent on the standardized tests, you think, "Boy, this is great, right?"
JTG: No! The tests don't measure what they purport to measure. I guarantee you they don't do that. Let me give you an experiment you could run anywhere in this country and it will work. I used to take the kids who scored the very highest on the standardized tests. I would say, "I will demonstrate to you that you don't know how to read, even though your test score says that you know how to read better than anybody in the school." So I'd get these groups together, I mean, I'd do this year after year, and I would give them an extremely simple classic book to read, Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. It's still in print, sells more copies in the year 2000 than it ever sold in 1928 when it was printed. It's a story of teenagers in the first world war. It's written in teenage language, with teenage concepts, and there are hardly any three-syllable words in the book, I mean it's mostly one- or two-syllable words, so it's extremely simple to read. I said, "I will give you an open book test on the first 20 pages of that book, and I will be very surprised if anyone in here passes the test."
See, standardized tests, even though all the questions look different, really arrange themselves in six, seven, or eight different patterns of extracting information from the reading selection. In actual fact there are about 168 separate ways to extract information from a reading selection. Most people who read a lot learn those things automatically; they don't have to be taught them. But when you're taught reading, and when you think the prize is getting a high score on a standardized test, what happens inside your mind (this is really diabolical) is, if you're efficient, you tend to concentrate harder on the things that you recognize will show up as questions and answers on the test. You may not be aware you're doing that, but it will happen inevitably. As a consequence, out of the 168, you miss about 160 types of information that are in the reading selection.
MP: So how did you convince your kids of this?
And, as Paul Harvey says, "Here is the rest of the story..."