Monday, August 22, 2011

Going to school...

Now that I have three of my six children going to some sort of school, I have had to think about and ponder a subject that I have had to struggle with for some time. As a homeschooling parent I have had my reasons for not going the school route. Over the years my view of school has changed. In the beginning I felt differently then I do now.
I don't understand schooling as it is right now. I don't understand keeping young children in a chair all day long except for a small portion of time they get to eat and MAYBE play outside. Caelan is only going to 2nd grade homeschool enrichment once a week (his choice) and yet he gets all of 40 minutes a day to eat and play when he is at school. He is 7 years old. How is this good? And how do children do it day after day, year after year? It makes no since to me.
Middle school and high school are no different. Teens waking up too early for their biology, (there are studies about teen brains) spending all day learning things to take a test to get a grade to graduate and maybe go on to college. Being told what to wear, when to eat and when they can use the toilet and how long they have to do it. Personally I feel that the only thing school is actually teaching most of our children is how to sit at a desk and do what you are told. They do not get to pick what they learn, how long they learn it and in which way is best for them to learn it. There is no deviation from the path, you do it this way or you get in trouble.
This isn't to say there are not good teachers teaching kids in this way, but in the end this is the way a majority of children are taught. This doesn't mean that all kids are automatrons, but alot of them are. You do just enough to get by. How many remember learning stuff in school and wondering .... is this going to be on the test? And if it wasn't then feeling like what was the point of this information? Why learn ANYTHING if you don't have too.
A friend recently was on the news promoting "Unschooling" and democratic education and a "free school" she is starting. This is where children get to pick what they want to learn and study it in a way that works best for them at the speed they wish to learn it. The news anchors wanted to know "what about math? Science? Reading" like no child would choose to learn this stuff without it being forced down their throats. I do not believe that. Children have an insatiable hunger to learn. They want to know how things work, they want to know how to read a clock or read a book. They all just do it in a different order and at different times. There is no right or wrong way to learn... except when you are in a traditional school. Why is there this idea, this thought, this opinion that children would rather no nothing? Maybe being in school for 12-13 years, being told what to learn, when to eat, when to pee, who to play with, when to play has made generations of children who hate learning.
Caelan was telling me how on his first monday they were told all the rules, shown around the school and give 5 whole minutes on the play ground. This is an enrichment program for homeschooled children. LOL Enrichment?! How exactly? In what way is he being enriched? The 5 minutes on the play ground? Or maybe the wonderful school lunch that was offered (I packed his lunch)... uncrustable sandwich and hashbrowns, this is the highly nutritious lunch being served to our children. This is the fuel that they get to keep them going through out the day. What a slap in the face.
I just don't get it. I just don't get the whole concept and the further I have to get back in to it, the less sense it makes to me. And so many won't even get what I am ranting about. This is all we know and to question it, is to question so much that we have come to see as normal. But it has only been our "normal" for just the last 100 years or so. But so many feel that this is the one and only way.
Yet here I am, in the middle of it. Helping my three intrepid explorers go off into the wild, weird and totally confusing world of public education. Where you do not have control over your own bodily functions, where you can't truly speak your mind, where they tell you how to socialize (and yet people wonder how do homeschool children socialize: they do it more like real life, you know talking to all sorts of people about all sorts of things), what is important to learn and how quickly you need to eat. I hold out hope that all the freedom they experienced for years will stay with in them and they will keep the fire burning inside of them, that fire that is their own personal love of learning. Learning what they want on their own terms. And that they know that at any time they can stop doing it the way they are doing it and can do it another way.