Sunday, March 4, 2012

Knowledge is Power

I was 34 when Esmé – my first and only – was born, which means I had to navigate corporate politics a few years, which I really don’t enjoy.  The one adage I’ve found to be true:  if you focus on the knowledge, learning and growing as much as you can in your job, you’ll survive the rest of it.

So I’ve become a connoisseur of knowledge, helpful or no.  When the little Miss was on her way, I was up-to-date on each stage of her development.  A grain of rice, an acorn, growing nails, I checked in on various online sites at least once a week.  I lived by The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy and What to Expect When You’re Expecting.  I had a textbook pregnancy and delivery, and I knew it every step of the way.  Esmé was exactly at 50th percentile in both weight and length when she was born.

I followed things up with What to Expect the First Year, then The Toddler Years.  Each month I’d check in with where she “should” be.  She never ceased to amaze me as she developed, but I  enjoyed identifying areas where we could spend a little more time practicing age-appropriate skills.

As she’s grown, I’ve done more research in various educational methodologies.  There are SO many!  We’ve experimented with various curricula, keeping some and discarding others.  I’ve developed my own opinions about how she’s doing, but the older she gets, the harder it is to measure quantifiable milestones and identify areas that need extra attention.

This week’s Blog Cruise asks the question:  Do you administer standardized testing in your homeschool? Why or why not?

The simple answer:  We live in Oregon, so yes, we will.  It’s mandatory.

The complex answer:  Yes.  For one thing, learning how to take standardized tests can open doors for Esmé’s future.

More importantly, if there are tools that will give me more insight into how my daughter learns, where she excels, what gaps we need to cover, I’m all for that.  I think standardized testing can be such a tool.

Esmé hasn’t yet taken a standardized test, but she did work though a few assessments recently that have been extremely informative for me as a teacher.  The results help me identify when an “I don’t know” answer means “I’m bored, let’s get on with things,” versus “I really don’t have a clue.”

For instance, I know she does well with math, but a math assessment reminded me that we haven’t touched units of measure yet.  No, we didn’t immediately embark on a unit study of Metric versus Imperial measurements.  But we are more conscious of discussing measurements with Esmé now:  pointing out the scale in the produce section while grocery shopping, counting down mile markers during a commute, grabbing the ruler out at appropriate moments, defining measuring cups while cooking.

A standardized test can never validate the measure, the worth, of a person.  I am far more interested in my daughter’s character and her relationship with Jesus Christ than I am in her test scores.

At the same time, I take her academic education seriously.  I want her to have all the tools available to serve God in whatever capacity He calls her to.  The standardized test can be a valuable source of knowledge to the teacher, the parent. P1060119 (2)_picnik

“Knowledge is power” – the power to enlighten, inform, inspire to greatness – and when it comes to my daughter, I’ll take all the knowledge I can get my hands on.


Rose said...

[Mama Teacher. You are doing great. I didn't have such tests for you when you were Esme's age but I also saw how you ate-up anything to be learned and I never doubted you'd make it. And now Esme is following in your footsteps. Just continue to stimulate her learning in "wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man."
lovingly, Grandma ]

RockerMom said...

I agree about using tests to find gaps and such. I'm glad you wouldn't define your daughter by a test (of course you wouldn't). I've been following your blog for years. It's obvious how much you care for both your daughter's spiritual and academic education. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that you're doing an amazing job!!! You constantly inspire me.