Schooling and Education

Whew! It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged. I’ve been super busy living life, researching, and prepping for my boys’ homeschool (unschooled) evaluation. I want to talk about this (homeschooling) today as I’ve encountered much criticism and questions regarding my decision to homeschool these little angels I’ve had the pleasure of birthing. First, I must say that it wasn’t totally my decision to homeschool. Malique (pronounced Ma-leek) chose to be homeschooled after he’d had enough of the public school system in the 5th grade. I’d offered to pull him out before then, but… FRIENDS!!!! (hahaha) After his first 3 weeks of 5th grade, he’d had enough of being talked down to, having his bodily functions regulated (gotta pee!), and the lack of so-called socialization they’re allowed to have in school. Now, much of the “concern” I’ve gotten from critics is about the lack of socialization of children who are homeschooled. This is hilarious to me since most children I’ve spoken to or come into contact with, complain about the lack of being able to talk with their friends at school and that they’re always being told to not talk (even during lunch). I was curious as to what type of socialization is happening at schools that kids couldn’t get at home. They have friends who live near and they visit daily. Then I did some research on schooling, namely compulsory schooling and how it came to be. I won’t go into it all here. If your interested, just look up Prussian model schooling. Start there. Let’s just say it opened my eyes to much more than I was looking for!

I don’t just homeschool my boys. I was looking for a more free approach to their education where their own interests were paramount. Me being the researcher I am, I did some digging and stumbled upon unschooling. I think I was sold just based on that name: UNSCHOOLING lol. Basically it’s where kids choose what they want to learn and when. Parents assist when needed. This may sound to some like “paarrrtttaaayyyyyy!!!!” but it’s so much more. At first it was a party for my eldest son because there was no school and his favorite song became  ‘Schooooool’s out for summah’ or in his case, forever. There was some serious deschooling going on for him and for me. It’s like unlearning the curriculum/schedule/dictator state of mind and learning to relax. Somehow, as adults, we  got the idea in our heads that kids need to be forced to learn. I remember being a child and being curious about everything. As a parent, I’ve watched both my kids be curious about everything as are all kids. they get into all sorts of “trouble” from being friendly with the toilet (ew) to chasing lizards, catching them, and putting them down their shirts because it…tickles. That’s how they learn. For children, play and learning are not separate and in my experience, when they enjoy what they’re doing, what they learn sticks. Much of what’s memorized in school is forgotten after testing. Yes, I said memorized because that’s what’s going on. Children are memorizing facts and regurgitating them for tests.   Most of what they’re taught in school, they’re not interested in thus they forget it. Oh but that’s what reviewing is for, right? Check this out. When a child learns to walk, it’s not forgotten. When a child learns to ride a bike, it’s not forgotten. Same with learning to operate a tv, drive,etc. All these things are done WHEN THE CHILD IS READY and they don’t forget. Why? Because they’re things the child wanted to do. It’s not something they’re uninterested in being forced upon them. So, yeah, back to unschooling. Some worry about whether the child will not be motivated. To that I say children are always motivated when its something they’re interested in, whether it’s a video game or science. I think what many parents worry about really, is whether the child will be motivated to do what they want them to do. That would be a more honest way for them to say it. We, as parents, have become so conditioned to think our kids need to go to school in order to learn, that we have adopted the school system’s way as our own. The way things are taught in schools are systematic and industrial-like, preparing them for uniform jobs. Art and music have been taken out of most schools or at least reduced to one day a week, if that, due to a ‘lack of funding’. Yet funding for football and other sports is plentiful. I won’t get into the damage football does to a child’s brain here though. That’s for another day.

Unschooling my kids has been great. We’re embarking on our 3rd year! They enjoy it and there’s more opportunity to visit museums (art, science), aquariums, theme parks, the zoo, all of which they learn from. There is no schedule to keep that interrupts a learning experience when time runs out. These hands on experiences and traveling can’t be compared to memorizing questionable facts from books and writing them down on paper. To me, experience is the best teacher. We come home and discuss our experiences and maybe write about it (counts as an essay). This is good to keep in a portfolio for evaluation and transcript purposes. I’m a budding videographer (at least I think I am lol) so I have lots of footage of our travels. This can also be used for eval and transcripts. You’d be surprised at how many colleges (if interested) allow these types of submissions for admission. There’s so much information out there. You just need to know what you’re looking for. I’m currently looking into world schooling. It’s traveling to different places all while learning about different cultures, ways of life, etc. Things that can’t be taught.

My children get real world experiences NOW and don’t have to wait until after they graduate college for that. That’s a long time to wait to be treated with respect and dignity. To be quite honest neither high school nor college really prepares you for the ‘real world’. I have first hand knowledge of that. My kids aren’t “unsocialized religious freaks” as some tend to believe about homeschooled families. In fact, there is zero religion involved, as I feel that’s something they can choose when they are old enough to understand that concept. I refuse to indoctrinate them with things before they can even truly understand or grasp  it. And there’s the fact that I’m not into religion or any organized institution that inhibits freedom. So there’s that.  My children are very well-educated in many aspects and could probably beat any public school test given to them beyond “grade-level”. However, that’s not important. It’s just to make point that homeschooled children are just as educated, if not more, as those who go to public schools. Arguments to the contrary by those who work for that system are continuously shut down with concrete evidence. This isn’t a post set to convert anyone to homeschooling/unschooling. It’s simply to share my experience and enlighten you to alternative forms of education in the event you’re in a place where you are fed up with the current education system or simply looking for a way to spend more time with your family or…WHATEVER, but more so to express myself. I didn’t put any links in this post because I think the search is the fun part and there are so many different sites to choose from that will come up when you search unschooling for me to limit you to just one or two. John Holt, Sandra Dodd, and John Taylor Gatto are just a few names I made myself familiar with in my search for alternatives to traditional schooling. Ultimately, do what you want and never let anyone decide what’s best for your child.

Trust

I often hear people say that their kids don’t misbehave with them because “they don’t play that” as opposed to their behavior when they’re around others. I don’t physically discipline (i.e. hit) my children (and they are not “unruly”). There are many people who do and feel it’s okay. While I am not here to criticize those who do, I will say I don’t feel hitting ANYONE ever helped them to be better. In fact, there are scientific studies that show using violence (verbal and/or physical) as a form of discipline only teaches children/people to be violent in order to get what they want. In my experience and through my own research, I’ve found that children who are harshly criticized or punished for displeasing behavior only hide that behavior from those who do the criticizing and punishing. ( side note: just because the behavior displeases you doesn’t necessarily make it wrong.) This is done out of fear. They are either afraid of being or feeling unloved, hit, or harshly punished. This does not equal respect or trust. When people in general feel safe they are able to be themselves completely. They tend to hold back when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. My 11-year old son taught me this valuable lesson first and it has helped me to grow. Through observing and having open conversations with my children I am able to see things more from their perspective. Many times unpleasant behaviors are deemed as disrespectful. It’s possible that the child or person is reacting/responding to the energy you are giving off. As “authority figures” sometimes we need to check OURSELVES and evaluate the energy we give off. As humans, in general, it’s important to be aware of our behavior toward others, as their behavior toward us may very well be a reflection of that. To expect trust and respect when we don’t give it seems a bit one-sided. I do my best to make sure my children feel they can trust me to love them no matter how they behave. I may not like the behavior at times and will deal with it accordingly. However, I don’t withhold love or affection from them because of it. Children often exhibit their most undesirable behavior to those they trust he most because they know it’s safe to do so without the fear of  unfair and unnatural consequences. Be love.

 

XOXO

Do The Children of This Generation Need To Be Handled?

I’ve read in many different places and heard from many sources about how adults feel like this generation of children need to be “handled”. Many people believe our children’s behaviors are out of control. Are we here to “control” other humans though? I happen to not share those sentiments. Here’s a question: Do you know that every generation before this one had their predecessors say the very same thing about them? So does that mean that everyone who has ever existed was out of control? Maybe things are exactly how they are supposed to be. Life is about change and progression.

Most people apparently don’t embrace change well. Some see change as this big bad “devil” or something that isn’t supposed to be happening because they don’t like it and/or it’s not what they’re accustomed to.  In my experience, I discovered that life isn’t about our comfort. In the face of discomfort is where the greatest blessings emerge from. Most don’t see it as such because we’re too busy resisting.

I feel that each generation comes to bring a different light into the world. There can’t be light without “darkness”.  When will the elder generation realize that light and dark are two sides of the same coin?  Life can’t exist without both.  I feel that our younger generations are here to heal rather than harm even if it doesn’t seem that way to those who don’t understand.  They came to break down this rigid system of beliefs and rules that are no longer necessary and that no longer work. It’s highly possible that the behaviors of this generation anger people so much because they actually trigger emotions and thoughts that they themselves harbor and/or suppress from past instances in which they may have been hurt.

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Wayne Dyer is: “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life”. Have  you thought to change your perspective on things and tried to be more understanding and less resistant to the changes that are happening with each generation? We don’t grow without change.  Life progresses whether we like it or not.

Does this generation need to be handled? I say no! I say the parents raising the children need to pay more attention to them. They need to offer them more love and understanding instead  of trying to mold them in ways that are convenient for themselves rather than in their child’s best interest.

Parenting can be more than frustrating at times, but also deeply rewarding. I have two children of my own and there have been and will be many frustrating moments. We make the choice to bring these people into the world. They are not ours to own and mold into who we want them to be. Children are individuals who need our guidance so that they may grow to be thriving, self-sufficient, and loving adults in a society that strives to make them all the same.

We sometimes project our own inner weaknesses onto children instead of dealing with them head on.  By looking within, we’re forced to see and deal with that hurt and weakness.  Every parent does the best they can with what they have. I truly believe that. When you don’t have love for self you can’t give love. It’s much easier to blame the children of this generation than to look at yourselves and see your role in what’s happening. I feel that things happen exactly as they’re supposed to. LIFE is what’s happening and some have gotten so comfortable with only one part of life that they refuse to accept the other parts. God/Life/Source doesn’t make mistakes. If you really believe that, how can you say that anything is “right” or “wrong”?  God is everything and everywhere. It’s not exclusive to those who “believe” or call it by a certain name. Look within and allow life to happen. See how by “handling” yourself you can heal what’s “broken”. Passing judgment on others (children or otherwise) won’t do the job.

Join the convo in the comments! Your opinions and thoughts are welcomed.

 

XO

Discipline

People use many paths to correct what they call “bad” or undesirable behavior.  This is what has been called discipline. What is discipline exactly?  As defined by many dictionaries, discipline is 1) suffering or pain as retribution; punishment 2) a field of study 3) training that corrects or molds 4) gaining control by obedience; orderly conduct. Throughout our lives, based on choices we make, naturally we experience suffering or pain in some way.  Since this is true, why, do you suppose parents and/or adult caregivers insist on inflicting more  pain and suffering on children? Is this to prepare them for the pain and/or suffering they may face in the future?  Oh yes! Let me inflict this “good” pain on you now to prepare you for all that “bad” pain you’ll experience later in life!! Why is it called discipline  when we hit children but abuse when its done to an animal, or an elderly person, women, or someone who is disabled in some way?  Hitting is violence no matter what creative name you give it ( spanking, corrective discipline, etc.). Is it not considered violence because you ‘love” your child?

What if your husband or significant other hit you and told you that it was out of love?  Would you thank them for their loving correction or think they’re bat shit crazy and abusive and therefore leave them?

Shaming is another method people use to coerce obedience.  I’ve seen people place their children in a corner and force them to hug each other as if this will incite love, then post it to social networking sites like it’s some great feat. I’ve also seen children made to wear oversized shirts called “get along shirts” in an effort to force siblings to get along.  This is shaming. It’s also ridiculous! It solves nothing.  Do you think putting a homophobe and a gay man in a shirt together will make the homophobe like gays? NO!!  See my point?  For one thing, it teaches our children to lie when we do this.  To feign feelings that aren’t there at the moment. Then we turn around and punish them when they lie to us.

Is corporal punishment or punishment period effective?  If your goal is to raise blindly obedient and subservient children in society the answer is yes.  If your goal is to develop independent, mentally and emotionally healthy, critically thinking children the answer is no. Spanking and many punishments lead to mental imbalances which in many ways contribute  the current state of our world. Much research has been done that proves this. I liken spanking to slavery. Slaves were yelled at, punished, and beat with whips so that they would fear their owners and be obedient to their demands. However, many didn’t allow their spirits to be broken IN SPITE OF  the terrible treatment. We must look for more effective ways of disciplining our children if we want them to inherit a better world.