Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Homeschooling and Capitals

It occurred to me today that one of the reasons to homeschool is to be able to answer the "Why do we have to learn this?" question with, "You're absolutely right, we don't."

Take state capitals. Is there anyone who loves memorizing them? Does it actually have a purpose other than proving you know them? I genuinely think there is no reason to know state capitals other than the state you live in, or if you're traveling to another state with the specific purpose of visiting its capital as a stop on the visit. Seriously. The purpose of this memorization is to have something concrete to test. If I ask you, "What's the most important/influential city in California?" .... most people would answer Los Angeles. But arguments could be made for San Francisco, or even San Diego. But Sacramento is an easy right or wrong answer. Which one is more useful for understanding the history of California? Do I want to teach facts or understanding? Do I get a better understanding of Florida by learning about Talahassee or Miami? My own state, the only claim to fame that Olympia actually has is the government and a history of watery beer.

I promise, there are indeed things that will get resistance from the student, and overruled. But the only use for capitals is tests in school, and looking smart on Jeopardy.

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