Now even the UK is up-in-arms about the inadequacy of using standardized tests to access writing skills. Here are a couple of quotes from an article:
Head teachers fear some pupils in England have been graded incorrectly in a writing test that forms part of their national curriculum tests or Sats.
It also polled members in one local authority – Lancashire – where 47 out of 48 respondents reported “serious inconsistencies” in the way different papers were marked.
In June, a review of Sats by Lord Bew recommended the creative writing test should be scrapped and children’s creative writing skills assessed by teachers.
Of course, they are running into the same issues we face with our own SAT writing section. It is genuinely improbable that we will ever create a standard way to judge writing quality through a mechanical method. We attempt it with the supposed ‘rules of grammar and punctuation’—but if you spend any time studying and reflecting, you will realize that such things are not standardized. Actually, it is impossible to create a static set of rules for a fluid thing. Language continues to adapt and adjust and grow. Sorry, that’s just how it works. Language may be the only truly democratic thing on the planet (Thank you Rudolf Flesch for this point!). A writing course could be the answer, but wouldn’t it need to foster freedom instead of crush us by its rules?
If English had a static set of rules then wouldn’t we all talk like Shakespeare? Well, methinks I doth protest too much 🙂
Language is indeed fluid, and creative writers come up with even more cool-and-unique-to-the-moment ways of communicating things. You can rest assured that Shakespeare wouldn’t have written with the same ‘grammar’ if he were alive today. Or, stated plainly, if he had—we wouldn’t know who he is!
Isn’t it time for all of the stuffy grammarians to recognized excellence in writing on the basis of some other set of criteria rather than their own ‘approved’ set of rules? N.B. – I didn’t say, “Give up on excellence in writing.”
My suggestion? Go back to sound. Recognize language is an instinct in the same way music is an instinct. Pay attention. If people like a song…maybe there is a reason. If people like a writing style…maybe there is a reason for that too! In fact, could the reason be that it just sounds cool, whether it is grammatically approve or not?
What if we permissioned (cool use of a verbifying a noun that I’d get a D for in school) our own children to write, at least occasionally, in a way that just struck them as sounding great? What new writer with a new style might we gift to the world because of our kind empowerment to write in a fresh way (it will also possibly become the new ‘good writing example’).
Recently I ran a few of my sentences through a popular grammar-fixing software program…and I did poorly (a D 🙂
Next, I ran Faulkner and Hemingway through the same program…they did worse than I did!
Maybe the other experts will figure it out and we can have the creativity perfectly programmed out of us. In the meantime, why not join my expertise and help a generation of writers by encouraging them to write with their instinctive ear for what sounds how they want it read? Curse the rules…full Grace ahead!
Write well and write free,
P.S. Thoughts? Comment away…let’s think together.
P.P.S. If you found this helpful, you might want to know I have a whole curriculum available to teach children how to write by sound (instinct): It’s called The Writing Course
What do you think?
The gist of the article is that, while the blogger doesn’t really like to set goals, it is accepted as important. So, do you set goals? Do you do it like this person…laying out objectives for each academic area (reading , writing, math, etc.). Even to not have a goal is to have one, so really, kudos to anyone admitting it and thinking about it.
If your child is in school, it is much the same in that there are goals and objectives for each class, each semester, each year. Sometimes, though, we don’t think about the goal behind the goal.
So, what is your goal with homeschooling? Is it to get your child ready for high school? Is it to get your child ready for college? Is it to get your child to know enough to get a job?
Each of these goals (you might call them purposes) will dictate certain things to you as to standards and curricula. So, how about something more strategic? Our goal is to prepare our child (children) for life.
The Lybrands answered this goal by having a single focus: We want to teach our children to learn how to learn. Praise the Lord…it is starting to pay off. It is fascinating to watch our kid interact with peers in college and work. They are actually now commenting how neat it is to just know how to dig in and teach themselves something new. Do you look up words for your kids when they ask? We didn’t.
Do you show them how to do math? We didn’t. Do you help them figure out what to write? We didn’t. I don’t think we were cruel…we just asked them to explain math, or look up their own words, or play around in their mind until they found something they wanted to write about. Honestly, you have your own right to your own goals…all I am saying is to choose it carefully.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
P.S. If you liked this, won’t you please share at facebook and twitter to let others know? Thank you!
THE EASIEST WAY TO DAMAGE YOUR CHILD FOR LIFE (WEBINAR)
Telling a child, "You are stupid," is truly horrible.
But, telling a child, "You are smart," can be really (really) bad as well.
I'll explain why Wednesday at 4:00PM (Central Standard Time)
Apparently over 50% of kids who come to college with faith, lose it by the time they leave.
A new book (I haven’t read…but I like their references) tries to counter this trend. Here’s the interview:
Another option is an their hour long interview
In the video above, the number one factor is getting the kids to over-lap in worship and relationship with older (all) generations…hmmm.
I know we have technically done this by homeschooling and talking A LOT as a family about the Bible, our faith, and how to think straight…keeping the generational thing included in many areas.
The other thing we did comes right out of my book, GLAEN (http://www.glaen.com ).
Before a Lybrand leaves for college, we ask them what the most important key to their success in college, both spiritually and practically, will be.
The have the answer down pat now:
We’ve found that you really do become like the people you are with…smarter, dumber, wilder, happier…etc. It comes out of 1 Corinthians 15:33.
I guess there results say that if you don’t hang around mature adults then you won’t be like them. 🙂
What kinds of things have you tried / are you trying to get them read?
But what I really want to tell you is why I am so interested in teaching writing. I mean today – I guess you’d call me a successful author; eight of my books have been published and many of them have done quite well. I’ve have five children who were homeschooled; three of them collectively have written eight books. And, even the two which haven’t written any books have had their essays used as models for other classes in while in college. That is today. BUT IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THAT…
If you’re finding what I’m sharing to be helpful won’t you please share at facebook, twitter and other places to let others know? Thank you so much!
Fred Ray & Jody Lybrand
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Nick Saban a perfectionist? Maybe, maybe not. Jody & I met while were were attending the University of Alabama and saw the Tide win two national championships back then.
Saban wins partly because he has standards that he holds his players to. If standards are high enough, then perfection is the end game. Now, I say all of this to tell you that if you have standards yourself that flirt with perfection, then you are probably making your self/spouse/kids/employees miserable.
There are three simple reasons perfection isn’t worth it:
1. SEEKING PERFECTION GUARANTEES DISCOURAGEMENT
Think about it. Perfection means you must compare where you are currently to where you can likely never get in this lifetime. It’s like trying to catch the horizon (good luck with that). When you compare your results with perfection you lose perspective. When you compare your results with the past you gain perspective. Back in the late 70’s there appeared a pop button ‘PBPGINFWMY’ which stood for, “Please be patient; God is not finished with me yet.” If you aren’t there and there is basically unachievable, then bummer.
2. SEEKING PERFECTION IS A TIME VAMPIRE
In the 1600s Bishop Joseph Hall noted that “Perfection is the child of Time.” That’s really the best shot we have…enough time with enough tweaking and maybe, just maybe, it can be perfect. As Sweet Brown put it, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
3. SEEKING PERFECTION DOESN’T MATTER ENOUGH TO MATTER AT ALL
98% is plenty good for almost everything (and the other 2% just ain’t worth it). Think about college— a 98 and a 100 are both still an A(+). Is the energy required for that extra 2% worth it? Rarely.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have standards, nor am I saying we shouldn’t strive to do our best (whatever that is?). Instead, I’m suggesting that on the extreme of having perfection as a standard simply doesn’t produce much practical good in any endeavor.
In our writing training we encourage students to work from OK to GET HELP to MAKE IT GREAT. In this way people can get started. Frankly, you can’t start with perfect. I’m also pretty sure you can’t end there either!
I’d love your thoughts!
Off to learn,Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. If you want the shortcut to ending perfectionism and the other mistaken ways we think about how to ‘do’ life…check out our course on MASTERING EMOTIONS
So, don’t we hear this all the time? How are you going to socialize your child if you homeschool? What about socializing homeschoolers when they are isolated from others?
These kinds of jabs are a bit frustrating, but I’m sure jabs go in the other direction. Often people are asked, “Aren’t you afraid for your child’s safety in public school (implied: since you don’t home school)?
So what about socialization? What happens to human beings to become socially mal-adjusted? Can homeschoolers really figure out the socialization question? Is it legitimate? Do private school and public school kids face a guarantee about socialization themselves.
Here are a few thoughts…hope they help!
If you find this helpful, would you please send it along by re-tweeting it or sharing it on facebook or your site? Also, as always, leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!