November 17, 2009

Someone asked me how I deal with doubt

I always have moments of doubt.  Because the children keep changing, the need for doubts keep changing.  One can never say: "I have now definitively proved to myself that my child's needs are being perfectly served by our education choices."  At least, I think that's what goes on with homeschooling doubt.  Even with the strength of my conviction and the continuing proof that homeschooling nurtures the intelligence, spirit, and core knowledge of children quite effectively, I occasionally doubt.

Henry just turned 11.  Two nights ago Joe and I went a couple of rounds together with our doubts.  Is Henry really learning enough?  We started talking about him, what he does, who he is, what we know he knows, and we must admit he's fine.  Better than fine.  And better off -farther along in the most important ways- than he would be if he were in school.  Its the same with Riley. Then we relax.

I've been thinking about education theory.  Stepping back and looking at what anyone might definitely know about how to make growing human brains smarter or as smart as they can be.   This is a crucial shift because, I think, we all go along assuming the current system was based on strong evidence some brilliant person or entity laid out on exactly how to make children as smart as they can be.

But that is not so.  Our system evolved for many reasons and many of those reasons had nothing, whatsoever, to do with solid evidence-based information about what makes children smarter. 

If the system is not based on facts we know about what makes children smarter, then, wow.  What is that big industrial machine doing to all those poor little children?   That's question one.  Question two: why on this great beautiful earth that humans seem to be so effectively trashing, should I pay much attention to the standard curriculum of the huge industrial machine into which most people seem so intent (and most hideously, even relieved) to put their children?  Of course, there are small reasons why I should pay some attention.  I try to match my level of doubt and concern against those small reasons. I say, as often as I can to anyone who wants to listen, the current curriculum of industrial education is arbitrary.

Well then, how do we grow the smartest children?   I find these answers for myself: 
1) love and ethics
2) healthy food and sunshine
3) appropriate exposure to our complex and beautiful world
4) supporting the pursuit of curiosity

When people doubt or challenge our homeschool curriculum, I can only reflect on this list and compare it to the standard industrial curriculum.   I find it difficult to care much, in the elementary years, about any body of knowledge -the linear and progressive study of any language including mathematics or music, history, science, or geography- any body of knowledge anyone might list.  If the children are as smart as they can be, all knowledge will open before their curiosity or need like a well oiled hinge on a heavy and well balanced wooden door, in perfect harmony with their needs of the moment.  I can't hope to offer my children more than that.  So, I make sure they read as well as they can and I attend to our curriculum.  Noticing that the information embedded in the industrial curriculum of any school to which anyone anywhere might point, is contained within our unschooling curriculum.

Then I say, top that bitch.  Because doubt is a bitch.


val said...

Oh well said!! Beautiful. love, Val

rae said...

"Then I say, top that bitch"

Muah! Thanks for the smile - along with all the other incredible stuff. Damn, but you rock!

Ami said...

I am saving this to pass on when someone needs it. I've never heard more eloquently said.

I was all set to laboriously type another one handed post about the benefits of homeschooling this morning. A conversation with my son, who is now twice your son's age prompted it.

But it is such a long process, requiring so much concentration to both type and keep up with my thoughts that it may have to wait a few more days.

And what I have to say isn't as lovely as your post.. but it still brought a tear to my eye.