I started a nice short blog on how I built my new raised beds. Then I made the mistake of skiving off and checking out the BBC News. Mind you, I have limited myself to how much I do that. It is pretty depressing stuff these days. I am much better off and happier when I spend my time in the garden.
But what I saw today was not just depressing it made me see RED!
Coronavirus: The impossibility of home-schooling a nation
It was full of misinformation and whining from parents, teachers, unions, and headteachers. It is no way resembles the truth. But how would most people know that, since they are the misshapen products of that broken system?
About the only thing I agreed with was the title. It is impossible to homeschool a nation.
But that assumes we, the parents and our children, should be ‘schooling’ at home.
Or that school, as we know it, has a place in this society.
Did you know…
Schools, at least public/state ones, are relatively modern inventions. France instituted such things in the Napoleonic era – as a means of training dutiful bureaucrats to run the state.
In the UK, most of the first schools were run by the churches – in order to instill good Protestant work ethics in the poor, so they could, of course, be more productive and make their rich church-going business masters more wealthy.
In the US, the state of Massachusettes was the first to institute such a thing, and for pretty much the same reason – to instill the values of obedience and subservience in the poor.
The German states actually took schooling out of the hands of the churches because they wanted to train subjects whose first loyalty was to the state, not religion or their conscious.
Two hundred years later and schools are still focused on those same goals, and have those same attitudes.
Yet, the world in which we live is vastly different from that industrial age one where the most valued skills in workers were being on time and doing what they were told. These days companies, especially tech ones, yearn for employees who can take an idea and run with it on their own. Heck, those who come up with ideas themselves. The most valuable skills sets of the 21st century are:
Yet, our public schools are still wedded to what my first husband, the preacher, and I jokingly called the ‘sit there, be quiet, and don’t learn anything’ methodology.
Ironically, though, when we home-educated my four eldest children, we very much followed a ‘school at home’ ideology. We spent hundreds of dollars each year on disposable workbooks from the ‘right’ Christian sources. We forced our children to sit around the table for hours each day working through meaningless repetition.
No wonder, their feelings about homeschooling are mixed. Though to be fair, that one-on-one attention gave them the headstart to excel at school when they finally went. All were in honors programs and ahead of their peers. Now, my eldest serves in the US Navy, my daughter works at Oxford, my youngest son is getting his Ph.D. from Cambridge, even my special needs son accomplished what the social workers said he never would – living on his own and working a full-time job.
But each struggled at some point in their teens or early twenties with self-direction. Like most of our young people today, that transition to adulthood was challenging. Because we never gave them the opportunity to make their own decisions or the skills of failing. Yes, failing is a good skill to have.
But what is the alternative?
A thing called…
What the heck is that you ask?
Self-directed education is education that derives from the self-chosen activities and life experiences of the person becoming educated, whether or not those activities were chosen deliberately for the purpose of education.
Self-directed education can include organized classes or lessons, if freely chosen by the learner; but most self-directed education does not occur that way. Most self-directed education comes from everyday life, as people pursue their own interests and learn along the way. The motivating forces include curiosity, playfulness, and sociability—which promote all sorts of endeavors from which people learn. Self-directed education necessarily leads different individuals along different paths, though the paths may often overlap, as each person’s interests and goals in life are in some ways unique and in some ways shared by others.
Self-directed education can be contrasted to imposed schooling, which is forced upon individuals, regardless of their desire for it, and is motivated by systems of rewards and punishments, as occurs in conventional schools. Imposed schooling is generally aimed at enhancing conformity rather than uniqueness, and it operates by suppressing, rather than nurturing, the natural drives of curiosity, playfulness, and sociability.
But please don’t take my word for it. Go beyond the pablum that state-sponsored media feeds you. Do a bit of self-directed learning for yourself. What else do you have to do right now?
Follow these bread crumbs down the rabbit hole…
Coronavirus School Closures: An Educational Opportunity – Education is much more than what is taught in school. Take advantage. By Dr. Peter Gray.
The Alliance for Self-Directed Education – Is a group closely related with Dr. Gray. It promotes not just home-based SDE but an emerging educational methodology called democratic schools. the quote above comes from their Resources – Intro to Self-Directed Education page.
Dr. Sugata Mitra is a TED-prize winner for his ‘School in a Cloud.’ His SOLE, self-organized learning environment, is one that we have done our best to emulate in @PanKwake’s computer/gaming room.
His June 2016 Guardian interview gave me such hope with this quote:
“In India, I found two illiterate people texting each other. They had invented a language for themselves which you and I would not understand. I wonder: are there such things as illiterates at all? Yes, if we give them an examination on grammar, but maybe we’ve got the definition wrong and there’s a new literacy that we’re unaware of.”
Speaking of TED, Sir Ken Robinson, another British educator, has long been calling for change to an outdated system.
And if that is not enough, then the grandfather of home education educator John Holt’s work has continued with John Holt GWS (Growing Without Schools) magazine.
I implore you – don’t just believe what the BBC feeds you. Investigate for yourself.
It is not that we are lowering standards. They can’t get much lower.
This is a time for re-inventing the wheel – the hamster wheel of schools that have breed generations of ‘obedient and mindless slaves for the man.’ Yes, we actually use those words around here.
The other true and incredibly frightening quote from that article is this:
Head of the Association of School and College Leaders Geoff Barton thinks there could be a push for a “fresh start”.
“This is going to need something of a national renewal. We’ll want something pretty substantial to re-establish patterns of learning, habits of schooling, the resocialisation of the UK’s young people.”
It’s our job as parents to decide is this what we really want for our children?
And as Dr. Gray says in that article Coronavirus School Closures: An Educational Opportunity
As a society we seem to believe that all this schooling and adult direction is good for children’s education, but it is not. Education, properly considered, is much more than memorizing facts and learning the academic skills taught in school. To become educated is to learn who you are and what you love to do, to find your place in the world, and to learn how to take charge of your own life and solve your own problems. All of this requires freedom to play and explore, unfettered by adult control, the kind of freedom that most children had in quantity decades ago but not today.
I sincerely hope at least one of you will follow me into this Wonderland of SDE. As Gray says:
Families these days are so busy rushing off to work and school and organized activities that they may have little opportunity to get to really know one another. Here’s a chance for you and your children to bond in ways you may not have before.
And maybe after all that self-directed learning on education, you won’t want to subject your child to that “something pretty substantial to re-establish patterns of learning, habits of schooling, the resocialisation of the UK’s young people.” Maybe you will want something better for them.
Of course, you always have the option of continuing on this home education pathway. But if you don’t think you can manage that, you can join with The Alliance for Self-Directed Education to demand greater educational freedom through democratic schools. Heck, in the US and UK, you can band together with other parents and educators to create your own charter schools or academies, like Sudbury Valley , one of the earliest of its kind and going strong since 1968.
It is my hope that out of these challenges will come some positives: greater self-reliance, more home-based working, a deeper appreciation for the fragility of our environment, this planet, and our lives, and yes, a more profound understanding of the difference between schools, education, teaching, and learning. They are not the same things or necessarily even connected.
These are just a very, very small sample of our self-directed learning journey:
Goddess bless you and yours,
From our @HomeCrazzyHome to yours