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.