If you’ve ever visited this blog before, you are well aware of how passionately I try to spread the message that homeschooling does not have to be a replica of school and how important it is to get out of the schoolish mindset. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and have come to the realization that homeschool laws and even homeschool curricula can make that very difficult. (Watch my video on this topic here.)
Many states have specific subject requirements that must be fulfilled each year, thus homeschool resource publishers follow suit and produce textbook after textbook covering grammar, writing, spelling, reading, math, social studies, science, and so on and so on.
I originally wrote this in 2014 when we were still in the midst of unschooling. Although our homeschool approach has changed since then, I still believe many of the philosophies that follow this style of learning. Learning happens all the time in all situations. I hope you find this post to be an encouragement!
Calm down…I know what you’re thinking. To clarify myself, I am not against education, just society’s definition of it.
Just what exactly is considered to be educational by most people?
– Something that fits neatly into a school board-approved subject- i.e. English, Math, Science, etc.
– Something which is learned out of textbooks, then tested and graded
– Anything which is covered in standardized testing and the Common Core
Makes sense, right? It’s all very straightforward…
…or is it?
An important question here is who decides what is considered to be educational? That’s easy….school boards and the government. Oh, boy. That’s a problem for me. Our government can’t handle running the country- the job we hired them for. Why would we throw something else at them for them to control, particularly, our children’s futures? I don’t know about you, but that’s a problem for me.
It’s pretty fortuitous that I’m sitting here writing about learning from life when that’s exactly what I’ve been doing here for the past hour. My laptop hasn’t been cooperating today, and my tech repairman (my son) isn’t home, so this computer-illiterate gal has been trying to figure things out herself. I may not have fixed it, but I’m here, and I’m writing this post, so I must have done something right. 🙂
And isn’t that just how things work for us? When we’re in a bind and don’t have anyone else to rely on, we do a little research, get a little dirty, and figure things out for ourselves. That’s the way it’s always been, hasn’t it? Looking back throughout history, this method has gotten us pretty far. So why do we insist upon changing something that comes naturally?
Since compulsory education was instituted about 150 years ago, textbooks have become the go-to method for learning. I can understand the need for them in schools with hundreds of students. They’re the cheapest and most efficient way to teach, but anyone with any experience with public education can tell you that they don’t really accomplish what they’re meant to.
We, as humans, have been created to explore the world by living in it. Homeschooling affords us seemingly endless amounts of time to do just that.
Children at home have the opportunity of seeing how the real world actually operates. They’re beside us in our day-to-day housekeeping tasks- helping with younger siblings and doing cooking, cleaning, and budgeting. They’re at the grocery store with us helping us find which can of pineapples has the least expensive unit price. They follow us to the car lot as we deal with a salesman who is asking a price that’s a little too steep.
Not only do they gain actual life experience in real living situations, but they have ample time to explore things that interest them, or that they find necessary. How many people are in the world today doing jobs that they hate because they didn’t have the freedom to pursue their own dreams as a child? Without the time to chase after their hopes and dreams, people tend to give up on them. It’s hard to stay focused on something you’re never able to actually put any time into.
And, yes, I do assign some value to book learning. I love books. I love to read. I love to learn. But…how important is it that I know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92? Has it gotten me anywhere in life? Did it enable me to do something I otherwise would not have been able to? I’d wager the same goes for most things learned in school.
Have you ever needed to do a geometry proof while tiling your kitchen?
How many times has your boss quizzed you on the state capitals?
Were you ever turned down for a job because you didn’t learn how to read until you were 8?
Did your child fail to learn to talk because you never explained what a gerund is to her?