does not equal an education. I've been saying that for years. It's mastery of skills or subject matter that ought to be the benchmark. Let's create a high school test that measures those and as soon as you've passed that test---you're outta here and on with the rest of your life. (Don't tell me they're too young to be out of school at this point if you believe they're old enough to make decisions about intimate relations or medical care without parental permission.)
I was very happy to read Martin Kennedy's opinion piece in today's Tennessean, particularly this line:
Graduating should not be a function of time spent in a desk but of demonstrating a level of competency. Tennessean 2007-12-28And then again in his blog entry today:
Focusing on goals will move us toward adopting goal-time and away from a clock-time orientation. What should we care how much time a student spends in a desk in a particular building? Let motivated students accelerate the process. Let other students work on their degree at a slower rate.Exactly. This is something the homeschooling community has always focused on. It's our focus here in our home. So much so that I have a hard time remembering what grades my children are in. From the beginning we've focused on the skills and subject matter not on the when of achieving them.
I taught the children from the beginning that we all learn at different speeds and in different ways and that was OK. Our current public school system doesn't make that truth a priority. The biggest problem with that is the shame that is created when you don't learn a skill on some 'normal' timetable. I can't imagine the number of students that have been labeled 'learning disabled' for life when it really was a temporary situation that maturation on the child's part and patience on the adult's part would have solved.
And to answer Martin's question...people care about the time in the desk because that's a more reliable way to run the system. We know how many jobs we'll need. How many lunches, how many buses. The other way doesn't ensure anyone's job or supply contract.
Martin's blog post is also right about two other things. The State of Tennessee and MNPS need to completely embrace online education and athletics (and I'll throw in extra-curricular activities generally) shouldn't be school based. Tennessee is far behind many states in both of these areas. In a world where online conferencing for corporations is becoming commonplace---why shouldn't online learning also be encouraged? And if we really want our students to embrace a lifestyle of healthy activity in sports and the arts, why shouldn't students be participants in community activities that will allow continued participation throughout their lives no matter which neighborhood they live in?