Academic Achievements in Quarantine

Everybody on social media is sharing the amazing academic achievements their kids are accomplishing while in quarantine.

My kid is accomplishing no academic achievements whatsoever. Yesterday we lay in the grass and stared at the blue sky for two hours. The day before she built a puddle in the middle of the lawn and called it a lake. Then we found a worm and followed it around. Tomorrow we are planning to sunbathe in the verandah. Much of the day I don’t even know what she does because I have to work and if she’s not screaming, it means she’s not physically hurt and I don’t need to know the rest.

I’m not trying to structure her day or imitate the school schedule. And hey, I’m not saying that people who do it are wrong in any way. Good for them that they are so serious about it. But I’m probably the most anti-education professor I know. I don’t believe in homework or exams. I kind of think that everybody will end up learning whatever they need, and that can be anything and happen any time.

Schooling before college is extremely, gigantically, mega important for socialization. And absolutely nothing else.

But once again, I sincerely admire people who are trying to be all school-like in quarantine. This is not a criticism.

16 thoughts on “Academic Achievements in Quarantine

  1. \ Schooling before college is extremely, gigantically, mega important for socialization. And absolutely nothing else.

    It may be true for Klara with both parents with PhDs and with enough free time to teach her any acafemic subject, but not for vast majority of other students. You know that before public schools, huge % of population were illiterate.

    For instance, without school, I wouldn’t know a word in English since my relatives studied German.

    School also helps brain development since kids are expected to learn numerous fields of knowledge from math to literature.

    It also does a lot to form the habits of investing time into intellectual pursuits and developing good work ethics by demanding prolonged concentration.

    Even with the socialization, here how people without the right kind of schooling succeed in college:

    “The government has earmarked NIS 1.7 billion for higher education among ultra-Orthodox, but most students are women pursuing education degrees, despite an overabundance of teachers

    For every 100 ultra-Orthodox men who walk onto a college campus tailored for their community in pursuit of an undergraduate degree, 76 will walk away long before graduation, according to a damning state comptroller report released this week.”

    Interesting whether the statistics even for male African American students at your college are better.


    1. If I see at some point that school actually teaches something, I’ll happily report it. But I haven’t seen it yet.

      I personally learned absolutely nothing at school until I was 23 and in college.


      1. I learned one really useful thing at school: touch typing. It was not part of the curricula, but 7th grade year, there was a (primitive!) Qbasic type program on our classroom computer called Typing Tutor. We’d play it on our lunch break– about twelve of us were competing for high score. We all finished the year at 60+wpm. Very handy skill!


        1. “one really useful thing at school: touch typing”

          The two absolutely most absolutely useful classes I ever had at any level of education were typing in high school (on old manual typewriters) and public speaking (at a community college). I use the skills I learned in those classes just about every single day of my life… math and physics and history (as interesting as they can be) not so much…


      2. \ If I see at some point that school actually teaches something, I’ll happily report it. But I haven’t seen it yet.

        Klara is yet in kindergarten and, of course, you will teach her reading, writing and arithmetic at home.

        In Israel, she would start reading the Book of Genesis in the 2nd grade.

        In America, she’ll study official narratives of American history, read most famous literary works and study exact sciences f.e.

        // I personally learned absolutely nothing at school until I was 23 and in college.

        Biology? Chemistry? Physics? Computers? Something?

        Except reading, I learnt everything at school and enjoyed it very much.


        1. In high school, I created a pact with the mathematically gifted kids in my class. They wrote all my sciences tests for me and I wrote the compositions for them. I slept though my entire graduation exam in math. People kept poking me to make me stop snoring.

          And gosh, how I cheated. It was a work of art. I’ve never done any homework. I never even showed up in class in the university in Ukraine. For 5 years I didn’t show up. Then I’d ace all the final exams and be the best student. My classmates hated me for it. I’d literally not know what the professor looked like until I’d show up for the final exam. I’d come to a final and not know the name of the course. Then I’d start asking everybody in a loud whisper, “hey, what’s this course called? Does anybody have the textbook?”

          Then I’d go up to answer the questions I’d never seen before in a course whose name I didn’t know, and end up having the professor go on a long rant about how he appreciates my profound understanding of his subject.

          (In Ukraine, final exam is 100% of the grade and it’s done orally in the presence of the whole group).


  2. X learns how to cook because he likes it. I do homeschooling, but I limit it to ESL and a bit of maths, and only becsuse he wants that routine.

    He hates not going to school. How funny. At his age this would have been a dream come true!


    1. I loved school when I was little. Couldn’t wait to go. Mostly because the mood was always gloomy at my home (economic hardship, seething resentment between parents, issues with grandparents with whom we lived, etc.)

      I see how much my kids love being at home and feel I’ve done something right. They’re relaxed and happy, doing really well in quarantine.


      1. Wow, it’s eerie how closely your description matches my own childhood. The only difference is that we lived with one grandparent. I didn’t love the social part of school – I was basically kept from interacting with other kids until I started first grade, so it was rough, but I was really into the learning part. How well I did academically was one of the few things in my life I could control.


        1. I hated both the social and the academic part at school. Even in college, for the first six years (I dropped out of two colleges) I hated it so much that I thought maybe education wasn’t for me at all. I was always a straight-A student but only because I cheated and used my natural intelligence.

          Come to think of it, I also hated my PhD program.


  3. We homeschool anyway, but the boys have had the last few days “off” while the baby and I are convalescing. It is wonderful what they get up to when they have the day to themselves! 8yo charged me $1.20 to cut and paint a new attic door (measuring, using a carpenter’s square and a handsaw– I record all this in their logbooks as schoolwork). After he cut the plywood, he subcontracted 5yo to paint it for 20 cents. 3/4 of the way into the painting, 5yo tried to raise the price to 25 cents. 8yo tried to charge me the extra 5 cents, we had a discussion about contracts and labor disputes, and he decided to finish the painting himself, rather than cut into his share of the $$. He writes it all up in his business ledger when he’s done. He doesn’t see any of this as education: as far as he is concerned, he is running a business! 🙂 They’ve since moved on to some other project. I can hear sawing out on the porch and 5yo is looking for the right size screws. I think they’re building an airplane? The best part is that they’ve been getting along ALL MORNING.

    So far, quarantine is lovely! I feel we should do it more often…


  4. I learned reading, writing, how to use the library, touch typing, sewing including taking apart the machine to clean it and constructing whole dresses with collars and buttonholes, archery, tennis, a whole lot of math, French, some Latin, Spanish, Danish, some German, and a fair amount of history – and quite a few other things


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