Friday, October 25, 2013

The "Gap" Myth

The gap myth is the idea that a complete, thorough education has no gaps.... that is, the child knows everything they need to know, everything they "should" know, to continue on and succeed in life. There is some kind of idea that children given a quality education will have attained a certain level of learning-  he is standing on a platform of knowledge that he has reached through his education. The result of a high-quality education, the foundation of the platform is a solid stack of concrete blocks, supporting the mystical achievement. 

As the example would hold, a low-quality education is full of gaps, thus, many of the required blocks are missing from that platform called '5th grade", "12 grade", "bachelor's degree", or whatever platform that particular person has reached. When released into the 'real world', the foundation of the platform will crumble, revealing to the world the 'gaps' in his education. This is an example of the gap myth. 

While in theory this may sound good, it is in fact nothing more then a myth. This idea that out there somewhere, the 'professionals' (in some high-ranking government agency, of course). have a closely guarded secret list, with all of those needed blocks on it, is a myth. Although our government is trying harder and harder to create a "national standardized" program for schools, the gap is still just as much a myth as ever. 


Answer # 1: Why is the gap theory a myth? The biggest reason that the theory is a myth, is that it is simply impossible to know everything that needs to be known. The whole vast knowledge of the world cannot be taught to any one person. Although when it's put that way, it seems pretty silly, that is basically what the 'gap' theory is all about. "But what if he has gaps in his education?" He does, he will, and we all do. That is the simple truth. 

Answer #2: The second, almost-as-good answer to the gap question, is the diversity of people (and tasks) in the world. How can you say your child will have no gaps in his education, if you do not know what he will need to know? That mystical, all-encompassing list of a successful education does not exist, nor will it ever. What I need to know is different from what you need. Street sense is no more or less valuable then calculus, and that is no more valuable then Greek history or the ability to shear a sheep.

Can you name, without looking it up, 10 indigenous evergreen trees of the United States, and give me their family groups, scientific names, and locations?  Can you tell me offhand which medicine should be given as a painkiller to a 10 month old child that weighs 25 lbs and has a broken leg? Do you know how to draft the blueprints for a 3-story, 4 acre warehouse designed for climate-controlled food storage? Most likely, you don't need to know how to do these things. But someone does.  

It is impossible to know what your child will need to know to succeed in life. Not only because you don't know what life will bring him, but also because we live in a vastly changing world. The fact is, the tools and technology your child may be using in 20 years probably hasn't even been invented yet! So the child is destined to have gaps, because life will constantly be bringing him new things to learn. 

Answer #3: Is there not learning after school? As we saw above, no one is 'ready for the real world' upon attaining some magical, mystical platform of education. So that raises the question, when is one ready? After high-school? After college? Or maybe, is the idea of the 'real world' the true fallacy. 

In fact, children are living in the real world upon the moment of their birth. All of life is the real world. What one needs in order to 'live in the real world' is, as well, a myth. If you are not a hermit, if you don't keep your children locked up in your basement, if you go to soccer practice, grocery shopping, and church, that IS the real world, and they are already in it. They are not any more or less PEOPLE then the adults around them, therefor they are already in the real world. They learn as they go, and they will continue to do so. 

So what is the real answer? 

I think there are two different things people are talking about when the bring of the gap fear. They are very different, and in their own way, very valid concerns. But neither is truly expressed realistically using the gap question. 

What do they NEED to know?


Are they ready for the next grade? 

Those are two very different questions. And when they are put that way, it is easy to come to much better, carefully-thought through, realistic answers. Like everything in life, we are much closer to a solution when we know what the question is. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Second Grade Narrations

I was typing up Caiden's narration last week, when I noticed I had a few I hadn't posted yet. They really try hard to do their best when they know some of them will be 'published' for grandparents and other people to read.

Here is Caiden's narration on the Battle of Hastings (one of the most important battles in Western history):

The Story of a Pirate's Great Grandson
The Vikings sailed to one part of France and they stayed there for awhile, until one person wanted to take over England. So he could have the good land. And also there was lots of cattle and stuff like that. Then they really liked that land so he told this one man (Harold) that was going to be king of England next, that he was going to swear that he was going to make him king once he was going to be put king.

Then Harold broke his swear. And then William the Conqueror gathered an army and he went to take over the land. He started taking over! They made it seem like they were running away like they were scared, and when the English chased after them, they quickly came around and killed them. And they shot Harold King of England through the eye and he fell dead.

A few days before, the battle of Stamford Bridge was fought with his brother.

The End.  

Here is the story of Gilbert and Rohesia, the parents of Thomas a Becket, the king's chancellor.

 The Story of Gilbert and Rohesia
First there was a boy who got trapped away in a horrible dungeon. Except for a girl, Rohesia, met him before he got trapped away in the dungeon. The little girl came to him every night cause she and he were in love. But then one night she was breathing very fast and she had the key to let him free and she said, "I came to set you free!”

And he could hardly believe it. But then it was true cause she unlocked him and he was free! The man went to London where he was born and except for he forgot his promise. He promised that he would go there and then come back after he was done doing some things. But then she went to England where he was and all she said was his name, cause all she knew was “London” and his name. But then she finally found him. Then they lived happily ever after, and they had a son which was named Thomas a Becket and he was the king's adviser. Some people thought that it was just a fairy tale. But I don't think its a fairy tale.

Caiden Snyder, second grade
From Our Island Story, 9/16/13

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up, Week Eleven

Wow, where did the last few weeks go? I think I missed a few... there were so changed dates around their visitation with their dad, so we had to re-schedule some of their school. We got it all figured out, but I didn't get much blogging done. (Ok, lets be honest. I didn't get any blogging done. :) )

Week eleven already, next week is the last week of Term One! We are 1/3 of the way through this school year. And we are right on schedule. Thankfully, even through all the changes the last few months, we have stayed right on track.

Next week, the children will be finishing up a few books that are used only in the first term, and getting ready to start some new ones. Hailey will be finishing her biographies of Galileo and Michelangelo and starting new ones. She will also be finishing her literature book, The Princess and the Goblin. Caiden's literature book, Understood Betsy, will be finished up too. It is one of my absolute favorites, and I am glad I will get to read it aloud 2 more times in the next few years!

Hailey's narrations are getting exponentially better, and she is starting to narrate in a story-like form, instead of conversationally. Next year we will probably begin working toward written narrations, a huge, difficult step. Caiden has been doing better at his math. He has great math skills, he just doesn't enjoy the writing. Doing a daily math page everyday has helped him focus, stick to it, and push through.

The pictures are from our drive through the mountains. First, we waited in traffic for what ended up to be the filming of The Fast and the Furious number whatever-one-is-next. :) That was pretty cool for the kids to see. 

Later, we stopped and spent some time gathering "fairy hats" from the scrub oak and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. For the uninformed, fairy hats are the tops of the tiny acorns with grow on these bushes. The critters eat the nuts, and leave the tops hanging. The children gathered a bunch and hailey made a fairy trap with them when she got home. So far, no fairies have been caught. We think its because the trap wasn't secure enough and they escaped. 

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