October 18, 2010

Debbie, in answer to your question from yesterday's comments, I think the sooner the general public understands the fallacy of industrial elementary education, the sooner we can put this nonsense to rest forever.

If you pluck up a young Buddhist peasant from a Tibetan neighborhood, a tribal kid from Kenya, an aboriginal kid from Australia, an American slave right off the plantation (we'll take Frederick Douglass as an example), or any child raised by loving intentional parents.  If they speak English and they know how to read, you can drop these kids into college and they will thrive.  If they care to thrive, they will thrive.  Period.

Because industrial elementary education is not only arbitrary, it is unnecessary.  Grow the children of the various cultures or situations of the world in any moral loving diverse way, teach them to read, and put them in college.  They will thrive.

Because unlike the preponderance of our high school graduates, they will care.  They will have what an admissions officer from Middlebury College just labeled, in an article in the NYTimes today about the worth of SATs, "fire in the belly" and moral footing.   Qualities which trump rote learning and work sheet math every day.  

Imagine industrial education setting about to offer their students Fire In The Belly, Moral Complexity, and a profound understanding of True Nature 101?  Its laughable, but who would you rather teach?  I would rather teach True Nature from The Yak Farm than Bucky from Video Game Lane USA, any day.  Much moreover, with whom would you rather inhabit the planet?


Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many strangers feel that it's okay to tell me that I'm making a big mistake in having my child learn at home. (Of course most of these people don't even know we unschool - they just assume we are doing curriculum based homeschooling. Of course, we are not.) Yesterday Isaac's dentist felt it her place to give me a bit of a lecture on her concerns regarding lack of socialization with homeschoolers. (This was the first time we had met her, btw.) Man, if I hear this one more time, I might tear someone's head off. She proceeded to tell me about the "homeschooled" kids that now go to her children's highschool and how they all sit by themselves because they never learnt to interact with other people. This presumption makes me crazy - when I was in highschool (I gratuated 18 years ago) there were lots of kids who had attended school their entire lives and STILL prefered to be off on their own - and their were homeschooled kids that mixed and mingled with everyone. Personality has as much to do with this as anything else. I wonder how people think we all managed before the government forced manditory schooling on us. There weren't villages full of hermits, I know that much. Do these people think us homeschoolers/unschoolers live reclusive lives and never venture out? Do they think at all? The idea or belief that we need to school our children (or the children of the world) in order to grow socialized and capable humans is the biggest fallacy I know. Oh...but I have been working on a blog post about this very topic...so I best leave some of my thoughts for my own blog. :) Thanks for the conversation, Katherine. I always love reading here. -Debbie

Cecelia (CC) said...

Here's my guess:

But we are *not* socialized, they're right. And that's the point. Home schooled children do not know very well how to sit and numbly allow an 'authority' to droll on and on. They do not know well how to stand in line and go limp for way too long and no clear reason. They are not used to being distracted and lack distractive behaviors, and, they do not excel in situations where acting out and being a mouthy rebel are typical. They are used to being treated as humans who matter, so they lack the social norms associated with teenage baggage, making it sometimes hard to make the same choices other teens make and therefore making them a little odd, a little different, a little more independent and self-directed than many. It's OK to be different. I ask them what they mean by 'socialized' and that usually takes so long to answer time runs out.

Katherine said...

An enormous irony, the socialization proposition. This is why I say there is no uncaring in unschooling. An unschooler would never study what did not matter. All chosen study, in the most self evident way, matters to an unschooler. You end up with people who associate learning with mattering. Which is to say, you end up with students who arrive caring. Is there a better definition of socialization than to show up caring?

Katherine said...

Debbie, I had to give a blood sample in the hospital a few months ago. The phlebotomist was very put out that my children were with me and not in school. Not because my children were in her way. No, they were sitting quietly and waiting for me. She was offended they weren't in school. She asked me about grade levels. She quizzed me on teaching. If she hadn't had a needle in my arm, she might have gotten an ear full. But all I could think was, this person seems dumb as a post and yet she is concerned for my kids? It was an odd juxtaposition and, by the way, so completely inappropriate and unsocialized on her part. The whole time there were my kids taking it all in, as polite as could be. So odd.

Konanc said...

The type of socialization experience my children are obtaining in middle school in Wake county is quite interesting. An overly sexualized 6th grade male bravado thinly conceals insecurity. Mind-altering drugs are introduced. Crass commercialism pervades the entire 8th grade class, reinforcing the "emo" stereotype, the "gangster" stereotype, the "geek" stereotype, etc. The enthusiasm for learning my kids had on the first day of school has been crushed by an endless litany of rules, regulations and punishments, none of which have ever been necessary for them. The teaching is uninspired, unengaging and occasionally incompetent. I think almost every child has a natural curiosity and love of learning at birth, it takes a lot of effort to destroy this innate human trait but our school system is doing its best.

Katherine said...

Konanc.... what can I say? This makes me ache. I can only imagine how it makes you and your wife feel.

We are expected to hand over our children. I say, if you want my children show me proof you have something better for them. Show me the proof. I've never seen it. I don't believe it exists. And quite frankly, its not as if I'm a scholar. Its not as if I'm so superior myself, academically. And still, they can't show me anything better.

Anonymous said...

Cecelia - I LOVE what you wrote. Thank you.

Cecelia (CC) said...

debbie, I needed a boost tonight and your gratitude really lifted me up. thanks.

Kat, this topic alone is a book.

And everyone, ya know, I teach K-12 teachers, that's my job. I take my kids to work sometimes, too. The teachers congratulate me!! They say how lucky we are to homeschool. Only the pre-service teachers, still in school, and eager to try their turn in a classroom, seem confused. And even then, only a few. I tell them, "These tools I am sharing are meant to help you get kids outside and simultaneously meet the standard course of study so you can justify being out there. I say, "Really, our job is to love them, be their Light; like plants, they grow on their own." And the professors of these teachers smile, nod and agree. If they do not agree, they do not say so. That's right, they do not say so. Why is it these other people Debbie and Kat run feel it is their place to object, when these professors in schools of education do not consider it their place to tell me how to educate my kids? Maybe because I am there as their gust lecturer/workshop guru. But I am hoping it is because they know the truth. It reminds me of my youth. Catholic priests were always the most lenient with the rules when I grew up, far more relaxed than my converted father, and the more steeped in theology, the more they laughed at rigidity. It feels to me like a form of jealousy when schoolers ask. Usually they say, "Good for you, I could never do that." I toss them a bone, like, "But, we're mostly broke as a result, so, there are trade offs."

Keeping the faith, even when I doubt too.

Katherine said...

There are a high proportion of teachers homeschooling. We might call that natural. Or we might call it scathing.

I think the folks most critical of homeschool are masking their own sadness at lost opportunity. That's been my observation anyway.