As a home schooling parent, it's been clear to me for many many years that there is something wrong with the education system. Someone, somewhere has decided what we are going to learn and how we are going to learn it. Some one set the bench mark of who is smart and who is not. It's a 'controlling, factory like' system that 'processes' our kids in batches. If you don't conform, then you are labelled or at worst drugged! It has never been clearer that we need new educational paradigm...
Over the years, I've seen so many children with the most extraordinary gifts, that have been totally down graded in school. They've become depressed and frustrated, thinking that they are dumb; because their gifts of creativity or intelligence do not fit into any pigeon-hole within the education system. They lose all interest in learning. Yet, take them out of that system and they thrive!
Most stimulating era in human history
Our children today are immersed in the most stimulating era of human history. They've grown up with computers, rapid fire advertisements, TV, mobile phones and more recently, facebook. Even if we manage to prevent the exposure of these for a while, the moment they see that other kids have them, then they are on to it. Of course it's distracting! What do we expect? Our culture is flooded. You jut need to walk down any high street or look on any bus and every other person (at least) has their head buried in a phone or a tablet. It is 'normal'. It left me agahst, when I realised that all of my sons had their own cell phones at the age of 11! It has, beyond a doubt, become a screen culture.
What's the point?
My 13 year old son has a mantra:
- "I can't see the point of learning that - how is it going to help me in life?"...
And you know what? Most of the time I agree with him.
We take time with things. We never learn anything just for the sake of it - there is a purpose behind everything, and we make sure we know what that is.
He wants to learn. He has a huger for learning. But he wants to acquire skills that will help him in life. However, virtually everything on the educational curriculum seems to fall under the 'that's not going to help me in life' category. The bottom line is that if he is not interested in it, no matter how hard I try, it just does not go in. The shutters go down. On the other hand, if he is interested in it, if it stirs his soul, he excels, with the greatest satisfaction.
Home educating perplexes me to this day. Even, as a home schooling parent in the UK, I am required to give him a full-time education. But fortunately I am not required to follow the curriculum (thank heavens!). Even at times that's still really challenging. Schooling, even at home, has a sort of unnatural feel to it. In nature, in a tribe, we would naturally pass on our gifts to our children within the community and create the space for them to excel where they are meant to. But in our information rich un-tribal like world, he's not always interested in what I'm interested in, and I am not always interested in what he is either. And that's entirely alright.
I have a plethora of resources at hand. Home schooling teaches me, just as much as it does my son.... and I am not talking about what we learn from a text book. I mix in stuff he would do in school with plenty of stuff he wouldn't. If he wants to learn something, we've never done before, then I learn along side. This was the case with graphic design. He wanted to learn how to use photoshop and do design, as he thought it would be a valuable and interesting skill to learn - so I taught myself at the same time (which now Openhand benefits from!).
Education to me, needs to be about discovering who you really are; finding what your natural passions and strengths are; learning stuff just for the love of it and channeling your energies into what really stirs the soul.
I can't say, I always get this right with home schooling... but my heart is in the right place. So, I trust, that I am doing the best that I possibly can.
This year we decided to follow an English program based on the curriculum. In our environment, at his age, it actually works. He wants to focus. He wants to experience what it is like to study in that way... much of the content is common sense, stuff that he's picked up along the way. He's learning stuff that are real life skills within it. The beauty of learning in a 'non-system environment' is that we can fine tune everything and take the time to contemplate its relevance. We're also taking a course in secondary school German (and thoroughly enjoying it). Maths is another matter... I mean its amazing how much maths has no bearing on life whatsoever. By choice, he does philosophy, politics and economics with Chris; cooking, history, geography and whatever else comes up with me... The choice is always his. I gave up trying to make him do things (which was only ever born out of my own fear anyway) a long time ago. But this works. I am under no illusion about where the real education comes from... the greatest skills always emerge from everyday and real life experiences.
One of the most common arguments against home schooling. Almost every where these days, there are always other home educated children nearby with some group or other. My son is incredibly sociable. He he has an abundant social life of both home educated and school children. Apart from school, he does all the things that kids of his age do. I've tried my best to give a foundation of stable conscious choices and then as he's grown older he's increasingly made his own independent choices from there (some of which are not what I would choose!). He loves modern technology, mobile phones and all that. They seem like an inevitable draw for his generation. All kids I know, seem to be the same, even our radically alternative friends!
The truth is, I would love him to be in a school; an alternative one, that respects the individuality of each child. There aren't any around here, so we do the best we can.
Changing the Educational Paradigm
I recently found this really great video that sums up the importance of changing the current western 'controlling, factory like' educational paradigm.
It's brilliant and entertaining! I think most of us will relate to it.