Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Art of Homeschooling

The old, and persistent, view of homeschool is that of fundamental Christians sequestering their kids from the world - honing them with backward conspiracy theories. While there will always be an exception to every rule and condition, modern homeschooling is quietly, without awards or media coverage, teaching kids how to learn, how to be curious, how to zero in on their own learning strengths. How to excel beyond established state mandated educational standards.

Regardless how it used to be, modern homeschoolers opt out of traditional schooling for a plethora of reasons, including everything from bullying, lack of discipline in the school, overcrowding, to toxic teachers who are allowed to pour their personal philosophies into fertile minds. But for the most part, the primary reason for homeschooling comes down to the specific and individual needs of the child. Some kids cannot learn the way a subject is mandated to be taught. The rule of thumb is and actually must always be based on the commonality of learning ability. But not everyone learns the same way though. 

It is a specious argument that traditional school provides better education than homeschool - the truth of which depends on all the facts you can’t see - like the bulk of an iceberg. To tout that children cannot be taught by someone who is not ‘credentialed’ is also a smoke screen of disinformation. 

I took piano as a child for a year. My mother did not demand that my teacher show her diploma from Juilliard. And yet I learned in that one year so much about the structure and art of music. She knew music and she taught me. That my family moved and I did not take up playing an instrument again for 13 years did not erase that musical knowledge base. 

Credentials are a good start, for sure. You want certain professionals to at least provide the evidence that they did the work to get the credential. But, have you ever had a bad doctor, dentist, lawyer? Did you ever have a really really bad teacher? Or more than one?  Have you ever had an ordinary mentor teach you a valuable life lesson or skill that stayed with you into adulthood?

The point to be made is that knowledge is a fluid thing, it moves and changes with all that is constantly being discovered. In this age, given the access to unprecedented volumes of facts and information readily available in digital format, the task of teaching is not about instructing as much as it is about keeping up with the speed of what is available to learn.

Homeschooling in North Georgia, for the strength of all the community shared opportunities for kids to be exposed to unlimited educational experience, is producing highly credentialed adults. Scientists, engineers, teachers, medical professionals and, yes, even lawyers. Individuals who have learned how to learn and are imbued with the lifelong desire to continue learning.

Cling to the old ways, the fixed concepts, if you like - but homeschooling has more than proved itself and no longer must answer to the argument that traditional school is better. Homeschooling may be a different approach to how a child is educated, but it is in no way inferior. If the goal is the same - smart, thinking, life conscious individuals prepared to launch into the real world - if homeschooled children, according to statistics, fair better in their first year of college and go on to earn degrees - something good is happening. 

Just as traditional school is not the best option for some, homeschooling is not possible for most - if we’re just talking numbers here. But isn’t it wonderful to know there are options available? Isn’t it grand that the common goal of well-rounded, knowledge loaded kids is possible? 

Isn’t that ultimately what we all want? 

For Him,