Curriculum Inflation

School starts again soon, and I’ve been procrastinating on another project by putting together David’s curriculum for this year.

Texas is a great place to homeschool. There are only three requirements. One, it must be a bona fide curriculum. You can write it yourself – there’s no list of approved curricula – but it has to contain actual content to be studied, not fluff to pass them on like a high school football star. Two, it must be visual in form. Three, it must contain the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and civics. That’s it. No minimum required number of instructional days. No reporting. No testing.

That being said, I hew fairly closely to the TEKS standards, out of sheer convenience. They are a convenient rough guide, if not for what is objectively developmentally appropriate, then as a relative measure of what his peers are up to.

But the TEKS aren’t perfect. In fact, when I dug right down into them this week, what I noticed bothered me. There are 11 different general subject areas in the TEKS standards. And over 50% of them are fluff.

Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Languages other than English – these five are all actual subjects that are actually being taught. The other six? Health Education, Physical Education, Art, Music, Theatre, and ‘Technology Applications’. Or as I like to call them ‘Listen to Your Mother’, ‘Play Outside’, ‘Color’, ‘Sing with Mommy or Dance with Daddy’, ‘Imaginative Play’, and ‘Screen Time’.

Of this fluff, Health Education is a blatant parenting substitution. Physical Education is inept lip service to the idea that kids need to move more throughout their day. And I’m at a complete loss as to why screen time is considered a separate subject area since it’s best learned when you’re using it to do something else.

I would feel different about Art, Music, and Theatre, if they were actually teaching those arts. But they aren’t. A full 1/4 of the topics that are considered essential knowledge and skills for six year old children are devoted to the kids’ own self expression, not to acquiring information or developing actual skills. And this drives me crazy.

Does expression have a role even in early education? Sure. How much of a role it plays in education at a particular age is a matter of legitimate debate. But either way, self expression is the end goal of education, not a subject matter to be taught. And it’s certainly not three subjects.

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11 responses to “Curriculum Inflation

  • Mad Auntie Mo

    Why does it not surprise me that there is no science requirement for homeschool curricula?

    • GeekLady

      I know, I know. I’m going to end up writing my own science curriculum, because I haven’t found anything that’s very good.

      On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 1:36 PM, On the Care and Feeding of Geeks wrote:

      >

  • Megan

    I like how Health Education = Listen to your mother. That is indeed a 6-year-old’s best way to maintain good health. :p

    You’re going to make this science curriculum available to the masses after you write it, yes? I’d totally pay money for it if I had any money.

  • Foxfier

    It may drive you nuts, but thank you for sharing it anyways because I’ve been looking to making a curriculum for my kids!

  • Foxfier

    Health Education, Physical Education, Art, Music, Theatre, and ‘Technology Applications’.

    Health education: Wash Your Hands. (germ theory)
    Physical education: learn some basic games, even if it’s just handball.
    For art, I can see using it to learn patterns or copy stuff, plus shapes.
    Music: yeah, singing– which means you’re going to be memorizing songs, which is a good first step for poetry.
    Theater: Um… watch some simple plays? Maybe combine it with music and do some simple Gilbert and Sullivan skits? (Three little maiiiids, from schooool…..)
    Technology Applications: basic typing, maybe art using a mouse.

    • GeekLady

      What bugs me about these is they are all things that kids do naturally and thrive when left to their own devices. But now they’re ‘formalized’. And in the arts, where there is something to learn, they aren’t teaching it.

      • Foxfier

        Some kids don’t do these things, though, so you must assure the Nice Gov’t Lady that your kids are being treated like humans, not little puppies.

      • Melanie

        I think that’s exactly it. Art/Music/Theater is really just a way of formalizing giving kids time to explore and create. What really should be there is Imaginative Play. Which means give them oodles of unstructured time to do with as they please and they will make use of the tools they have to create what they need to create. I don’t count those as instructional time, but I make sure my kids have the wherewithal to do them. The sad things is what schools actually do is to try to structure it. So that kids are forced to make a craft that is supposed to look just like the teacher’s model instead of exploring the materials and medium.

        My alternate suggestions would be: building with blocks, digging in dirt, and messing around with stuff.

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