Thursday, May 24, 2018

I was Just Thinking - Again

We wrapped up the school year yesterday. This morning I had a flashback to that ever joyous realization of my childhood, upon waking up on the first day of summer. Today is free - full of promise and endless possibilities - so many things to do, to try - to choose. Choice being the optimum word. Free to do and to be - no schedule - no demands for time management. 

That euphoria lasted through my second cup of coffee.

And then I started the laundry, went downstairs to reorganize supplies in the artist’s corner, sorted and re-shelved books, put completed projects up and puttered around with vague goals, mostly ignoring the elephant hanging near my computer. I admit I’ve been avoiding sitting down to write, something I’ve not had much time to do of late. 

My feeble excuse is that sometimes I need to mull something over a while before I try to trap it within the boundaries of correct grammar and well considered/crafted sentences. The topic being mulled is - what is education?

I have given up trying to defend my position on homeschooling. When I see the look - the one that has a cross between incredulity and consternation behind it when I say I’ve been homeschooling my grandson since February. That look when the eyes squint together and the brows furrow down - when that appears I know I can’t explain to that person. 

I know what it is - and it’s quite simple actually - the objections are so old and worn out, they’ve begun to fall apart even for those still holding on. It’s based in the determination that humans, human children in particular, can only learn correctly if given a structure within which are staid and standardized parameters. 

To challenge this upsets the apple cart. It causes a rip in the cosmic continuum. 

To dare question a standard, of a given day, established by someone or mysterious unnamed group of someones, to declare it is not the only way, causes heads to spin and indignation to rise as though a blasphemy has been spoken.  But then, with nothing more than logic applied, the question is begged why is it that all the teaching methods of any era are deemed unacceptable in the current era? Regardless the amazing successes of previous generations - those who were taught in what is now seen as sorely inadequate, if not entirely antiquated application.  

Perhaps because modernity always demands overhaul for some reason, whether it’s good or not.

But that’s just human nature forever determined that what is correct, what is RIGHT is what is currently accepted by the majority and therefore cannot be shaken by upstarts who dare to choose to do differently. 

Allow me to point out a few holes in that arrogant concept.

Firstly - humans are not all alike. Given the plethora of different personality types, learning abilities and disabilities, it’s not possible to find a common solution for 100% effective teaching. The best that can be hoped for is to find the sweet spot that reaches the majority of kids. Regardless the adopted curriculum du jour, some will always do exceptionally well and others will struggle but still get through it. 

Then there are those who march to a different drummer. Those who are certainly bright enough to succeed, if given the opportunity, but who fall in the cracks because they learn differently. These often lag behind because there is no time or room for making adjustments to the delivery of information. Then they fall behind and so begin to believe they are deficient or just flat dumb. 

Discouragement is like an albatross roped around the neck. It drags you down and, in many cases, makes you quit trying.

When I try to make the effort to explain why homeschooling is, in fact, a viable option for children who simply do not fit into the well-defined box, I offer this analogy:

What if ten highly credentialed educators, from different backgrounds and experience are given the task to list 1000 things children should learn by the time they reach 12th grade. Can we expect that all ten completed lists will be exactly alike? Can we make the leap that because of individual intelligence and focus, there will likely be as many differences as similarities? 

Which list would be the best though? The one that needs to be adhered to? Why? Who gets to pick?

I’m not a good debater. I don’t have what it takes to stand up to naysayers and those who feel that the concept of public education is sacrosanct. All I can say is, in February a kid who was sinking beneath the weight of being seen as unable, unacceptable and unworthy, has bloomed, has learned, has written, studied, expressed himself in art and music, science, math, social studies, and has regained his sense of humor and confidence in four months.

What is that worth? Is that success then? Does this count? What is the point of education if not to advance learning - true learning - actually adding knowledge to the internal data base? 

I know all about the road less traveled. I’ve been hacking out my road for my entire life so I understand all too well what it feels like to be the one who just has to do it differently in order to get it done. 

So, today, this first day of summer break, I salute all educators, those who stick it out regardless the uphill climb to actually teach in what is often untenable situations in this era of lack of respect and discipline and government overreach. 

I also salute all those individuals who have chosen to take on the challenge of teaching in the home for whatever reason. 

I might not be skilled in arguing the point but I reject that excellent education is defined by how rigorous it is to attain. That falls under logical fallacy.

For Him,

(Proverbs 22:6) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


  1. I think I'm past arguing for homeschooling, and I'm just hanging in there with it. The proof is in the pudding, and so far my little puddings have emerged from this crazy homeschool life as eminently employable, responsible citizens who commit themselves to a good woman and then proceed to walking humbly with God.
    Of course, I know the paint is still wet on this parenting experiment we began 25 years ago, because there is one still in the nest and one still hanging on the edge of it (the far edge, since he's working 60 hour weeks this summer as a welder!), so I'm going to keep trusting for grace and making sandwiches. Lots of sandwiches.

    1. Indeed the proof is in the pudding. Your homeschool journey may not be quite yet completed but who could argue against the outstanding results thus far? I know of many success stories of well rounded kids launching into their lives not only fully prepared but often better prepared from their homeschool experience. And yet this is considered anomaly.

      When the question is posed - what is education? - those who are determined to defend public school as the only proper way to educate cannot be persuaded with real statistics of successfully homeschooled kids. And yet the numbers grow every year - along with the reasons.

      Sandwiches and whoopee pies then - you go girl!