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.

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GENIUS

“I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”

John Taylor Gatto