Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The thousand flowers edition

Mama Squirrel is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Dewey's Treehouse.

She starts the carnival with:

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is inspired by Spunky Homeschool's post Common Core Curriculum is coming. "Time is short. School districts are scrambling. Tests are coming. The situation is 'near-impossible,'" Spunky warns. She also refers to a study in Education Week where curriculum researchers state, "Letting a thousand flowers bloom isn't consistent with ensuring that all teachers are using high-quality and well-aligned materials."

Apparently I've been living under a bit of a rock, because I had never heard that quotation about the thousand flowers and had to look it up. It is a misquotation of a policy of Chairman Mao Zedong: "Let a hundred flowers blossom."  At that time (1957), the Chinese government was actually encouraging constructive criticism from various respected thinkers, and that was the official (and very springlike) way of saying it.

In Ontario, homeschoolers are not required to test or to teach particular subjects or to particular standards. Puzzled non-homeschoolers say, "But then how do they know/you know that you are doing it right?"  They are often quick to agree (with each other) that there needs to be more standardization, that homeschoolers should be more accountable to authorities, and so on.  Their minds are obviously wandering to the exceptional cases where an abused child "slipped through the cracks," or where teenagers doing nothing educational at all are excused by their parents in the name of homeschooling. However, and I try to explain this whenever I do get the chance, the fact that we have that right is exactly the point. The freedom to learn at home, without undue interference, is much like a thousand flowers blossoming. Who would want every petal to turn out exactly the same?

Well, maybe some people would, and this is the concern of Spunky and others.  I don't usually get all political on this blog, but I have to say that those quality-control "concerns" are almost always more about control than about quality or about real concern. They are nanny-state rhetoric for standardization, in education and in other areas as well.  How can "the state" be sure that unregulated  home schools are doing a good job?  Well, it can't be sure...and it shouldn't be. Thank God for the freedom to succeed or fail, and to accept the challenge of that freedom as part of our responsibility to our own children..

And the Carnival of Homeschooling, in all its diversity, is a perfect illustration of that freedom. Let a hundred or a thousand or a million flowers blossom!



Carnival of Homeschooling