The Homeschooling Opportunity
or what children often lose by going to school
This article was reproduced in full with permission (CC Licence) from Mark and Cindy's blog Trust The Children
Even though our philosophies of public education purport to graduating students who are responsible citizens capable of participating thoughtfully in a democracy, our educational practices have a tendency to foster dependence, passivity and a "tell me what to do and think" attitude.
(Marge Dawe, a teacher at Richard Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan, describes how she works to build personal confidence in the minds of her students. [Audio file, 162k] Excerpted from the video series Schools That Work: The Research Advantage, videoconference #7, Preparing Students for Work in the 21st Century (NCREL, 1992).)
This attitude is almost impossible to overcome when our children find themselves on their own in college, jobs, missions (i.e. LDS missions) where they prosper according to their ability to think on their feet and make choices consistent with their own heart instead of the expectations that they have traditionally learned to respond to.
Example: We had one son who we home schooled. He had so many questions he was never at a loss to find something to learn each day. He decided he wanted to go to public school and entered the 6th grade. His teachers loved his bright inquisitive mind as well as his polite and respectful manners. One teacher named her newborn son after him she was so impressed. When he decided later to come back to home schooling, we noticed that he kept waiting each day to be told what to do and learn. It was as if he had lost the innate inquiring mind. It was sad to see. It took him 1 1/2 years before he re-learned to give himself again permission to follow his own interests and curiosity.
Was that because he had found the "easier" way in public school as is mentioned above by Marge? had public school fostered in him "dependence, passivity and a 'tell me what to do and think' attitude?" Or was it just the mind of a 6th grader maturing as 6th graders do?
It seems to me, that one opportunity we have as home schoolers, that comes with a price, is to preserve something in our children that once lost is seldom reclaimed. What is that something? Self direction and permission to follow their own heart, their own dreams and set their own learning goals. We can often do this better at home, if we allow it. Instead offering parent support at home that mimics necessary public school teaching habits, (i.e. tell them what to do and how to think), home schooling parents can, if they are willing, offer their children freedom and support to pursue their own interests. Our experience has been that for our children as they progressed along their way still learned basic skills needed to achieve in higher education.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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