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Does current school curriculum encourage life long learning or how to pass a test?

Posted by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:37 AM
  • 47 Replies

Interesting. As someone who continues to struggle with the decision to homeschool or keep my child enrolled in public school, this teacher speaks to exactly some of my concerns. My son has a great teacher and we really like his school, but from what I can see there is little time for hands on learning. He's in kindergarten and it seems like he's always getting tested on something already. He talks about how next year there is no more time for him to do "Centers" (free learning time). We originally planned to put him in a charter school or a private school that is based on creative learning, but we wanted to support the public schools.  We also chose this school in particular because it is very culturally diverse so he gets to hear many different perspectives in his classroom.  I worry, however, that he will lose his love of learning since most days he is expected to fill out worksheet after worksheet not to mention complete a homework packet of more worksheets each week.

Anyone else worried that their children aren't getting enough time to do hands on learning? What did you decide to do with your kids? Do you think just doing hands on learning activities at home will be enough to keep them excited about exploring?

by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:37 AM
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by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:41 AM
I've wondered the same thing.
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by Platinum Member on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Teaching to the test...period
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by Barbara on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:48 AM

The video is not appearing on my screen. Maybe my laptop at home will show it.

I do not think my son's public elementary school teaches to the test, but they place very, very well in state testing. He had a lot of hands on learning, and he learned a lot about different cultures. His school had interns, teacher aids, and sometimes teachers that are from different countries. Then again, the elementary is a language immersion school, and so it's of a necessity in that kind of educational model. I can't speak to how the other elementary schools in our district.

When my son was in kindergarten, he was worried about regular math and spelling tests that started in 1st grade. He didn't really have any tests in kindergarten. At the end of 1st grade, I asked him if the testing in 1st grade was as bad as he was expecting it to be, and he admitted that it wasn't. He just needed to get over the anxiety of taking tests for the first time.

by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Ours still has a lot of hands on learning and creative problem solving.  She is in 1st grade so they dont even do the state testing until 3rd grade (i think).

by Barbara on Mar. 6, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Quoting frndlyfn:

Ours still has a lot of hands on learning and creative problem solving.  She is in 1st grade so they dont even do the state testing until 3rd grade (i think).

Here, it is 3rd grade. Starting in 3rd grade, my son's teachers would send home extra worksheets and online study guides for the state test, but I don't think they changed what they did in the classroom to prepare for it. My son actually likes the week during state testing because he gets a break from homework. The teachers also lets the kids play on the playground after they're done with a couple hours of testing, and he loves those hour+ recesses too.

by Tammy on Mar. 6, 2013 at 11:21 AM

 For most of the year I feel like they teach things that will encourage learning and are more hands on, but when PSSA time rolls around I feel like it's all about cramming for the test. (I'm talking 3rd grade on since that's when that testing begins here.)

My son is in 6th grade and science seemed more hands on in 4th/5th grade, but this year it seems like they fly through really technical material and their books are written like college text books. There are not enough hands on experiments IMO. He is really struggling to hang on!!! But there are select years when kids are tested in the area of science and I don't believe 6th grade is one of those years, so I'm not sure why it is all being rushed! Then again, he is my child on the autism spectrum and always struggles more and then when my younger kids go through later I end up thinking, "Oh, I guess that really isn't so terribly hard... for kids who perform as average or above average learners in school!", so maybe it is just him. IDK.

by Emerald Member on Mar. 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM
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Honestly, the answer to this question varies greatly from state to state and even school to school.  So condeming every single school in every single state in the United States as "teaching to the test" is very inaccurate.

by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 11:29 AM

It's good to hear your throughts.  He's our first so I really don't have anything to compare his experience to at this point.  Plus, we live in a completely different part of the country than his cousins who are around the same age.  It seems like the curriculum there is more like I remember from school than it is from where we are now.  Of course, that is the area of the country we grew up in. 

by Bronze Member on Mar. 6, 2013 at 11:39 AM
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My child wasn't being challenged , at all. He cried everyday after school, hated school! i felt so bad for him, i cried with him. Even after multiple meetings with teacher and principal and promises that things would change. He's gifted, yet they wouldn't skip him because he wasn't "socializing" enough and couldn't tie his shoes. (Beginning-middle of first grade)
(we had the option to skip kindergarten but held him back so he could have fun, you know, socializing, fingerprinting, etc. not just going right to homework and desks) and now they were basically laughing at us, about skipping him.
anyway, for 2nd grade we put him in the catholic school in our town. Our little one was in kindergarten that yea, and was given the same teacher as the oldest, so we kept him in the public school, she was a great teacher.
The next year, when my oldest was to be in third grade, that catholic school closed. Ugh! So we registered both boys in the closest private school, a catholic school 20 min away, the public school buses them there and back everyday.
We have to pay, which sucks, but it's really worth it. The curriculum is much better and tailored. Like my little one's teacher (1st grade) noticed how advanced he is and put him in the highest reading and writing groups and he is doing second grade math on top of his first grade math so he isn't bored.
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by on Mar. 6, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Well, if our school is teaching for the test, you can't tell it. They have centers through second grade and start switching classes in third. Third on, they take pretests every marking period and get re-grouped by skill level. Ds is in the enrichment classes for math and reading comprehension, grade level for science. Spelling is done with homeroom teacher, but they get a pretest each Monday and those who get all the words correct get a more difficult list. 

We have a small public school--about 85 kids per grade, so classes are broken up with the teachers knowing each child and his/her skills. Ds has had all four teachers at his grade for one class or another. 

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