Friday, January 15, 2010

Free Thinkers

So, lately I've been thinking a lot about homeschool vs public school and have come to the realization that most public school parents have NO idea of the thought processes that go on in the minds of homeschool parents.

I realize that many parents are terrified at the prospect of being responsible for the entirety of their children's education. That is a valid fear, that even homeschoolers feel. I realize that many parents think they could never teach all those subjects, especially once the upper grades are reached. These are valid thoughts.

I wonder, though, if public school parents realize that the actual academics of education are often the least important of reasons that homeschoolers do what they do?

I know academics are certainly down toward the bottom of my list. Now, yes, I am well aware that homeschooled children on average do better academically on all levels and in all subjects than public schooled children. I could quote you the figures, the test results, etc. I could tell you that yes, I am glad we homeschool because our kids are very intelligent and would just be held back by being forced into a classroom with 25 other kids their own age.

I know those things, and I am grateful for them, but they are not the real reasons we homeschool.

We homeschool because we want our children to be free thinkers. We don't want the creativity squashed by a teacher who insists that things be done a certain way. We don't want their individuality threatened by a system that expects all children to run on the same schedule and curriculum. We don't want their natural curiosity squelched by boring mundane tasks and "busy work". We don't want their imaginations strangled by rigid rules and regulations.



We want our children to love learning. We want them to seek out knowledge, to think on things, to ask questions (and get real answers, not textbook ones), to create and invent and be imaginative. We want them to question the norm, to think outside the box. We want them to crave enlightenment, to devour books and information like a starving person devours food. We want them, in short, to maintain that childlike innocence, that view of the world, for as long as possible. We want them to take that innocence, that creativity, that curiosity into their adult lives and do something worthwhile!

We want our children to take time to stop and smell the roses, to understand that sometimes a day spent lying under a tree and pondering things can be just as educational as a day reading books. We want them to look about them always with fresh eyes, to take in each new day as an opportunity for something grand and exciting. We want them to run and play while they can, to listen to the rain, to bask in the sunshine, to play in the snow. We want them to scream and laugh! We want them to ALWAYS take time to enjoy the little things and NEVER be so busy trying to cram in enough dry facts to pass some test that they forget that the world is alive and beautiful all around them and that every moment is an opportunity to learn!

We don't want the public schools convincing them that the best they can do is be like everyone else, learn the exact same things as everyone else, look the same, dress the same. We don't want them thinking they have to called upon by a teacher in order to question things or speak their mind or make suggestions. We don't want them to believe that adults are always right and that because they are children their thoughts are somehow less important. We don't want them ignoring their own body's signals - hunger, tiredness, needing to go to the bathroom! - because the person "in charge" says its not time for that!

We want our children to be happy, and free, and, yes, to QUESTION AUTHORITY!!!! Very few people in positions of authority have any right to be there. I want my children to learn that, while you must be polite, that, NO, you don't have to respect anyone that hasn't earned it. Just like you can't expect anyone to respect you if you haven't earned it!

I want my children to be able to speak and write well, to express their thoughts and opinions in valid, educated debate. Even now, they know that they are not to say "this is bad" or "this is good." Good and bad are usually opinions, and therefore must be stated as such: "I think this is bad," or "I think this is good." And even then they know that before they spout their opinions they must have solid reasoning behind them!

I guess that, most importantly, I want my children to be themselves, instead of pre-progammed drones in a colorless world.

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