Friday, 12 September 2008

A little bit on education

I've had four experiences over the past few days that I have given me food for thought. I don't want to comment on them myself, as I'm still processing how to interpret them in the realm of myself. but here they are:

1. A History of the World
A homeschooling mom was excited about a new series of books she ordered for her elementary-aged children. These books combine the historical timeline of biblical stories with the historical settings of past civilizations. What was really interesting, was that this mother mentioned how much she was learning herself. In her school career, she had taken only one course like this, called "World History", in high school. How on earth do you squeeze the entire history of the world into three months of classes? It almost seems absurd to try.

2. Editing an essay
I was asked through a friend of mine to edit a university paper. It was 80 pages in length, but I agreed because a) the student was offering to pay, but more importantly b) the paper was on the literacy gap between boys and girls, a subject that interests me greatly. I opened chapter one, which did not need editing as it had already been submitted, but was provided to put the paper in context. I got nervous as I read. The paper was replete with not only grammatical errors, poor sentence structure and meandering form, but there were spelling mistakes. In the age of spell check, I have little patience for spelling errors. I opened chapter two, and it took an hour and a half to edit 5 pages. No sentence was untouched. There were 15 comments (notes that had to be written separate from the paper because they involved more than a simple comment). After 5 pages I stopped and emailed the writer. I wasn't sure how much I could ethically and legally edit! She wrote back that it the entire paper was just a free-flow of thought, and she hadn't even looked back over any of it. It came out that the university provided a peer editor, but not for this early in the process. Really, she was too busy (or lazy) to do the work she was supposed to be doing. The whole experience made me seriously question: 1) the validity of the assignment if students didn't feel it was worth it to do the job themselves and 2) how on earth a university level student could write so poorly! Had more than 15 years of education failed her so badly?

3) A little theatre
is nothing as immediate as live theatre.Yesterday I ordered tickets for Colin's first trip to the theatre. I have had a love of the theatre since I can remember. I have viewed, read, acted, directed and crewed more plays than I could ever count. It's a beautiful, and engaging artform. Although I have an equal love of film, there A nearby theatre company is producing a black light, puppetry, musical adaptation of "Goodnight Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny", two children's literature classics. I'm beyond excited to take Colin's education in literature to this next level!

4) School around the world
In speaking with a friend this week, I learned about her neighbours who are university professors. They decided one year to participate in an exchange program with three other professors around the world. They swapped homes for the year, giving their families a chance to live in a different country. For that year, these children did not attend formal schooling. Instead, they spent time traveling around, experiencing new and exotic things, and documenting their experiences in essays and stories and poetry. One example: they spent a month caring for elephants who had been abused or hurt in the wild. Their days were filled with washing down these giant creatures, feeding them, caring for them and tending to their needs. Now that is education completely relevant to the world around you!

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