Saturday, February 26, 2011

Out with the Bell-Shaped Curve (BAD), In with Life (GOOD)

Statistically many things in our natural world fall onto a bell-shaped curve, but "intelligence" (whatever that means) should not be relegated to a fate such as this; moreover, children should not have to think of themselves as 'below average, above average, or just plain average'.  Each of those labels can send ripple effects out through a person's ENTIRE lifetime.  Labels like this are cultivated with much vim and vigor in a traditional school system, the end results often being students who are either left in the dust, left to their own devices, or left to compete with those labeled 'the best and most likely to succeed'.  The whole mess effectively ignores the individuality of each child and fails miserably in helping children find their unique offerings and skills that each of us is born with.  It cuts kids off at the pass.

You might guess that I've got my nose in another book that begs to be recommended.  This one should be handed out to all new parents at hospitals and birthing centers across the nation.  Midwives and doulas should all fill up the trunks of their cars with this book so that a copy is always at the ready.  Administrators of school systems should be required to read this book annually and take a test over their comprehension of the material, lest they feel like slipping into old habits.  Teachers should place a copy front and center on their desks, making sure that the most relevant passages are earmarked, highlighted, or otherwise marked as special.  This book should be delivered to homes as regularly as telephone books are!  If all of the above 'shoulds' were to take place and people absorbed the message, children everywhere would have reason to celebrate and to embrace their unique futures.  The information is that important and I encourage you to get your hands on a copy and read it (or find other information about multiple intellegences, learning styles, etc.) Then implement much of the sage wisdom sprinkled liberally between the front and back cover and watch your child BLOSSOM into the person he or she is meant to become.

If you are currently homeschooling, this book is invaluable as a resource for you as the teacher.  Because you, in fact, are the BEST teacher your child has!  Absolutely (even on your worst days!)  This is not a teaching manual.  At the heart of the author's message, this is a parenting manual.  This is a way of being on a daily basis that will potentially foster an amazing atmosphere in which your child can learn to become his or her very best true self.  There are many books written about learning styles available.  I like this one because it considers the family system while fostering a learning environment that is tailored to its individual members.  It's a gentle and positive approach, one that may open your eyes to some key areas where you've all been struggling with one another.

This is hands-on stuff, written in a way that is easy to digest and progress through at your own family's pace.  We are sitting down to take the assessments tomorrow as a group; it's going to be very fun and revealing to determine our individual learning styles, preferences, ways of being.  I am excited about this book because it is critical information.  I wish I could send a copy to the White House and ask that President Obama read it.  In a perfect world the information would be digested and would magically trickle down through the education system and our world and children would be transformed!  Wouldn't that be the coolest?  Oh, I wish!  Unfortunately, the system is not currently willing to accommodate such radical thinking!

Here's the book, in case you feel a sense of suspense or "out with it already!"

The timing of this book could not be more appropriate for me as I reflect on the issues we struggle with as homeschoolers.  I do wish that this had been at the top of my reading list when we first began researching homeschooling.  I have a little over two years of homeschooling experience under my belt as of this writing and cannot begin to convey the deep thought and research that has been invested in this undertaking; I also would have trouble putting into words just how much my perceptions, expectations and ideals have changed since we started.  Homeschooling is an emotional, evolving, eccentric, eclectic, energetic, nearly extraterrestrial experience!  One that I am completely ecstatic about and engaged with.  Deep in my bones I wish that other traditionally-educated kids could experience the freedom that homeschooling embraces.

Max summed it up today.  He had a friend over who attends a Catholic elementary school in the fifth grade and she asked him if he was going to be homeschooled again next year; Max affirmed that he was.  She said, "you should come to my school next year."  Max replied, "you might like that, but I wouldn't.  I like being homeschooled.  I don't ever want to go back to regular school."  Listening I wished she could know what homeschooling feels like.  I also spoke to a mom the other day who was busy using flashcards to prepare her child for the standardized testing that is coming up next month.  Ugh and more ugh.

Knowing your child's learning style is critical.  Knowing your own learning style bears the same weight. And how fun to expand this concept to the entire family system!  There are many books out there about learning styles; this book exemplifies a lot of practical application.  Dig in!

Postscript:  We completed the assessments today and discovered how each of us tends to relate to the world around us.  Max's primary disposition is that of a performer; his secondary disposition leans heavily on thinking and creating.  He is also a tactile-kinesthetic learner, which I already surmised.  My husband and I share the same primary and secondary dispositions - that of thinking/creating and inventing/discovering.  We are both visual learners.  The point to stress here is that Max's preferred way to learn is very unlike my way and I need to keep that in mind as I design learning avenues for him.  Time to invest in a basketball hoop and trampoline, I think!  I'm also picking up tips on how to parent him, encourage him and help him to work on the styles of relating he may not favor. 


  1. Great post and I LOVE that book! It is on my top 5 to recommend to newbie home educators!
    We just crossed the three year mark on our journey and I completely relate to the change in perspective and attitude about "homeschooling"!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh, yay! I'm glad you saw value in the book. It has already had a positive impact in the way we homeschool. Another great book has been 'Free Range Learning'; I posted about that not too long ago. Have you read that one?


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