Teaching: Art or Science?

As you reflect on your role as teacher, how do you approach the job of education? Is it more like an art, where the student is your medium in which you work and the curriculum is your tool? Or is it a science where step A leads to step B, then step C and so on until all steps are finished and your have your expected outcome? Your answer probably depends on the type of student(s) you’ve had. Some students do well with the step-by-step scientific approach whereas others do better with a more fluid interaction.

For the most part, public schools have reduced education to a science. They use principles of behavorial psychology to assign grade levels. Grade levels are based on norms. Norms are determined by standardized testing. Standardized testing determines whether or not you pass a grade level. This is not necessarily bad, as many kids do well in that kind of environment. Homeschoolers, on the other hand, tend to approach education as an art where each student’s learning can be individualized in both content and pacing.

I realize these are gross generalizations, but the point is this: homeschoolers have the best of both worlds. They can use the benchmarks of learning as a guide, but then can adjust the pace of learning in any or all classes per individual, giving each student time to develop at his own pace. This is particularly important for struggling learners, especially in the early years of school. If you have been doing school the scientific way and your child is struggling, it might be time to trade science for art.

(c) 2010 Stephanie Buckwalter

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