Homeschooling, for me, is not just about family relationships, or imparting the values important to us, or sibling bonding, or varied and diverse opportunities, or flexibility…though it encompasses all those things.
Homeschooling has opened up a whole new vision of what education really is, has exposed what schooling really is (not), and has virtually morphed me into a “real education advocate”.
John Taylor Gatto and many others are fighting the highly entrenched belief that children aren’t capable of learning what they need to learn without an “expert” feeding it to them. However, real observation proves the contrary and has for centuries. Gatto says, “we don’t trust children’s amazing ability to learn and until we do, true education reform will never be possible.”
I largely agree with their thesis.
So, enjoy this article from Psychology Today that echoes the very “common sense” phenomenon (I explained this in Think Outside the Classroom) that we seem to essentially miss altogether!
“Real educational reform, as I see it, requires a fundamental shift in our understanding of the educational process. It requires the kind of shift that I have been advocating in the whole series of essays that constitute this blog.
For starters, it requires that we abandon the idea that adults are in charge of children’s learning. It requires, in other words, that we throw out the basic premise that underlies our system of schooling….
The idea that children are and should be responsible for their own learning is the thesis that runs through most of the previous essays of this blog. “Freedom to Learn.” Children come into the world intensely motivated to learn about the physical, social, and cultural world around them; but they need freedom in order to pursue that motive. For their first four or five years of life we generally grant them that freedom. During those first few years, without any teaching, they learn a large portion of what any human being ever learns. They learn their entire native language, from scratch. They learn the basic practical principles of physics. They learn psychology to such a degree that they become experts in how to please, annoy, manipulate, and charm the other people in their environment. They acquire a huge store of factual knowledge. They learn how to operate the gadgets that they are allowed to operate, even those that seem extraordinarily complex to us adults.
They do all this on their own initiative, with essentially no direction from adults. In fact adults can’t stop children from learning all this, unless they shut them away in closets. It is not just a few special “geniuses” or uniquely self-motivated children who do this; all children do it, except a very few who have real brain damage.
But then, at school age, we do the equivalent of shutting children into closets. We force them into settings called “schools” where we deprive them of their natural ways of learning, so they can’t learn much on their own, and there we give teachers the task of “teaching” them. So, of course, in those settings whatever the child manages to learn is very much affected by the teacher. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you force children into settings where they can’t learn on their own, then learning is necessarily dependent on teaching.
Children learn wonderfully without anyone systematically or deliberately teaching them, but yet, we adults do have, or should have, the responsibility of providing the conditions that allow children to take charge of their own learning. Real educational reform, in my view, is reform that provides those conditions.
The most important condition is freedom.”