Tuesday, November 11, 2008



"Because the test results are rendered in numbers—and can thus be compared with the norm, the ideal, and the neighbor’s kid—ambitious parents may, at this point, begin hiring tutors. According to Marano, there is now a four-billion-dollar tutoring industry in the United States, much of it serving elementary-school children. (Some of the coaches sent out by Princeton Review, a leading tutor-provider, charge close to four hundred dollars an hour.) If tutoring doesn’t do the trick, enterprising parents can argue with the school that their children, because of special needs, should not be held to a time limit in taking standardized tests. In 2005, according to Slate, seven to nine per cent of students in Washington, D.C., were given extra time on their [tests]. Their scores—which were sent out to colleges, with no notice of the dispensation, alongside the scores of students working against the clock—were, on average, well above those of others."

From book reviews on the subject at the New Yorker. Read it all. You'll laugh before you quake in your boots.

Clearly, I'm not doing enough for my kids. Or maybe, just enough. Or maybe too much? Who's to know until it's too late??

Seriously, though. We know a student who "founded" a charity at age 7, plays an instrument, does research on brain surgery over the summers, has written two books, etc. How can one compete with that when it comes to college admissions? Or do colleges have a clue, and catch on to these things? I mean, I am raising renaissance kids, but I like to believe that their interests in many subjects are real, and that if I do facilitate their research and help them find summer programs and all that, I'm just doing what they need me to do, and no more.

How much parenting is too much parenting? I think that as homeschoolers, we can overparent in a more subtle way sometimes, or, as T says, we can benignly neglect our children and call it unschooling. Of course, his tongue is firmly in his cheek when he says that. So where is the balance? When does facilitating become intrusive?


Laura A said...

Parents too anxious? Let's tell them so they can get anxious about that, too.

Did you ever read the column Ivy League, by Victoria Goldman, in the East Side Manhattan freebie newspaper? She also wrote the Manhattan Guide to Private Schools. I'm convinced that that woman created preschool anxiety so that she could pay her rent. In fact, I think she's the reason I had the courage to homeschool. Why should I worry about doing something that looks a little weird, when so many people in Manhattan are obsessed with preschool placement?

Hey, we do some things well, and some things not so well, and the things we didn't do so well will give my child a nice challenge to overcome.

We were at Jamaica Bay today, by the way. We saw some fun ducks, and Brants were everywhere!

MacBeth Derham said...

I recall my aunt's anguish in trying to find the best pre-school for her boys--twins with very different aptitudes. She lives on the upper west side, and anxiety is her middle name. Before she had the boys, I really thought that NYC pre-school anxiety was a Hollywood joke! And she thinks homeschooling is nuts (but it's right for me, she recognizes). I love my aunt.

Wish I had been at Jamaica Bay with you! I was cleaning my garage. Ew. Dead mice, dead opossum, dead unrecognizable things...