The life of a homeschool mom comes with many side effects:
- glitter all over the floor
- yesterday’s science experiments in the fridge
- never making it to the bathroom alone
- constant questions from the kids
- constant questions from curious adults
It’s that last item that prompted this post today.
Anytime we humans come across something new or unfamiliar, we tend to get uncomfortable. We don’t like to feel lost. There’s something reassuring about the fact that some things will never change…right?
Very often, this seems to be the case when people think about what a “proper education” looks like. Although the school system as we know it has only been around for 150 years or so, many people have a proclivity to equate that with the sentiment: Things have always been done that way.
Which is what brings me here today.
What started out as a necessity, however, has turned into a preference. Through the years we have grown to absolutely adore the library and everything it has to offer, so even if we had an unlimited homeschool budget, I’m fully confident we would still rely almost completely on the library, anyway.
As I was relating this fact to someone I know who was unfamiliar with homeschooling, she asked some honest questions that kind of saddened me a bit:
Will the library be enough? Will your kids learn everything they need to know if you only use the library?
I’ll admit, I was a little shaken by these questions – not so much that she was looking for answers, but more because of the implication of these questions.
Implications? You might be asking.
Here are a few that immediately came to mind:
1. Society has been so indoctrinated by the belief that learning can only be accomplished through textbooks that any other method is deemed “less than.”
Whenever I tell someone that we homeschool, one of the first questions I am asked is where we get our textbooks.
Do they come from the school district? (Heck no!)
Does the state send them to me? (Lol. No, and no thank you.)
Do they have to be approved? (Yup. By me.)
If I decide to mention that we don’t use textbooks, I’m usually the recipient of confused stares. Even if I mention hands-on learning, life learning, going to the library, videos, etc., it can be really hard for most people to envision a learning atmosphere sans textbooks.
It’s rather depressing.
2. Compartmentalized learning – like that done in textbooks – is seen as normal while whole books/living books are not.
For some reason, it is the firm belief of a vast majority of the population that learning has to be disjointed and segmented, because isn’t that exactly what textbooks are?
They break topics apart into subjects, despite the fact that life offers a beautiful cohesiveness that is ignored by most curriculum publishers. Textbooks present brief, shallow, and uninteresting glimpses into an area of study without ever delving deeply enough to ever arouse any genuine interest.
Think about it. Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t WAIT to read Chapter 3 in my history book to see what happens next! And those review questions are so exciting!”
No? Me neither.
3. Libraries are no longer valued for the treasures that they are.
This can easily be seen by the empty parking lots and aisles of many local libraries. The few people who do choose to go often go simply for the internet access or to borrow movies.
Where have all the readers gone?
The books that are stored within those walls offer something that textbooks never can and never will. They offer adventure. Personality. Depth. Creativity.
While textbooks can only offer the smallest glimpse of a topic due to lack of space, libraries can offer the whole story, because those stories aren’t confined to a section of one chapter in one book. They’re available in all of their glory in entire sections on the shelves of the library.
Instead of reading one chapter on the Revolutionary War, you can choose from a myriad of entire books dedicated to that one subject. Instead of reading one section of a textbook on volcanoes, the library can offer dozens of entire books written about that one topic.
In fact, those textbooks that so many people place on a pedestal? Where do you think the authors get their information? I’ll give you one guess…
So is the library enough or not??
Friends, it’s more than enough. Because while textbooks give you pieces, the library gives you the entire thing.
On a side note: As I was at the library last week, I came upon a book that had a VERY interesting note in the beginning by a former textbook author. Watch this and tell me what you think. 🙂