Last Friday, Pat Farenga spoke to a moderate crowd at Barnes & Noble in Framingham. I was unfamiliar with him before the event, but we nevertheless bought a copy of his book Teach Your Own (and had it signed of course). Pat told some stories, provided a few insights into problems he sees with schooling, and stressed the importance of mutual support among the different groups of home/un schoolers. It was an interesting talk by an entertaining speaker, and I am glad we went.
Pat made two points that I especially liked with respect to schools. The first has to do with what he called the "charade of learning", where students memorize facts for tests and subsequently forget it once the test has been taken. I've thought before of how all of the exercises, homework, and testing of schools can produce the illusion that actual learning is taking place, and I was glad to hear Pat discuss this point (and express is with a nice phrase).
The second point Pat made that I liked had to do with motivation and satisfaction. In particular, he compared school-learning to playing poker with matchsticks; it doesn't feel "real". The result is that students don't feel like they have anything invested and don't care as much about the results. Even if a student does perform well and get good grades, the satisfaction is diminished because there was no personal risk involved.