Saturday, July 25, 2009


Ok... I've been reading a lot of books on homeschooling/education lately. I find the subject fascinating (not just to see how other homeschooling do things) because of the different philosophies on education expressed everywhere. I'm a slightly rebellious person. So the "let the kid be free already" option appeals to me. Why should any kid be made to learn stuff he isn't into and/or will never use? I mean I remember talking to a friend who attended a very "good" public school saying that they had spent a very large amount of time on how to use a dictionary. Now it's fine to teach how to find things in a dictionary to a elementary student but this girl was, if I remember right, in middle school. She said the class was very boring and wouldn't we all feel the same way? I don't even remember exactly when I learned about the dictionary but I believe the lesson lasted about 5 minutes. I was given the dictionary told it was in alphabetical order, shown how to look up a word, and the method on going from one letter alphabetically to the next. I got a taste of this when I took the 8th grade IOWA test (one of the school achievement tests that is given nationally). I was shocked when there was a whole section on the different parts of the dictionary and how to use an index! I wondered why students were being taught this right before high school? Shouldn't these thing have been taught (or just absorbed) by the student fairly soon after one or two years of reading? Of course now most students probably don't know how to use a dictionary since they look up words on dictionary dot com. I find myself going there much too often. There is something to be said about leafing through a old reference book. The small pictures, the connection with generations of others who have leafed through dictionaries, and not to mention the surrounding words to the one you are looking through. I often skim the page after I've found the one I'm looking for. I love discovering new and underused words. So next time your not by your computer don't rush over and boot up to find that unknown word, grab your old dictionary instead. You might just find something unexpected.

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