Everything In Our Society Relates to Education

“Parent choice” proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained. “Family choice” is, therefore, basically selfish and anti-social in that it focuses on the “wants” of a single family rather than the “needs” of society. – Association of California School Administrators

All who have meditated in the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of the youth. – Aristotle

My husband has noted to me on several occasions that I have the ability to connect unrelated things to each other and find where they are parallel.

Perhaps he’s right. One thing he’s absolutely right about is that I see the connection to education in practically everything I read.

This is a sampling of the news today, and how I connect these stories to education:

New Classification of Spinal Deformity Defines Range of Normalcy: The article is mainly about how the science of spinal medicine has developed and resulted in a thorough catalog of the various ways the spine can be messed up. This is how our society works. We define normal by what is abnormal. The more we are able to pinpoint and identify abnormal states, the smaller and smaller the window of normal becomes. This is exactly what has happened in education and psychology (which often crossover, as any parent of a child with ADD or Autism can tell you). We laud, as a society, our ability to find more and more specific ways that we are messed up as individuals, and identify how to cure those problems. As a result, we are less and less tolerant of differences.

What the President Should be Reading: President-elect Obama has been caught many times with book in hand. In fact, the publishing industry is wondering if he’ll become the new Oprah when it comes to book sales. Well, at least in the political book market, since all of Obama’s books are either biographies of political leaders like Roosevelt or Lincoln, or books on national politics like, “The Post-American World.” The reason why this is so interesting to me is that people care what he’s reading. I cannot remember, ever, when our country cared what a president, let alone any other political icon, was reading.

I’m encouraged by this. Our president is reading to learn. He is the ultimate role model in life-long learning. I hope that many children see the attention this is getting, and see how even when a person has reached the pinnacle of success, there is still much to learn. Books are not the enemy, as we learn in school. Self-directed learning is what successful people do. I hope Obama gets caught with many more books in hand.

‘Brave New World’ Just Around the Corner: One of my all time favorite books is the Brave New World. I read it two years ago for the first time. I’m so glad I didn’t read it until I was an adult. I would not have “got” it as a kid. As an adult, involved in the education of my own children, and involved in national politics (on a personal level), I am in a place to truly appreciate what Aldus Huxley had to say. Although I don’t agree that we’re all that close to Brave New World Utopia status, that’s where we seem to WANT to go, as a society. Peace means predictability in our culture. We’re so afraid of change and challenge. Our children are being trained to be risk-less, satisfied with mediocrity, and afraid to do anything on their own. Thank God we have 1% of our population choosing homeschooling, and 2% of our population choosing private school to keep things stirred up a bit.

Pope Cautions Against Blurring Lines of Religious Differences: How can religion have anything to do with education, you ask? I’ll tell you. One of the main problems with public school, and most group schools in general, is the blurring of the line of individuals. Now, I’m somewhat moderate when it comes to individualism. I believe that every person is an individual, with individual needs and abilities. While I also believe that we are all connected, and what we do as an individual affects everyone in our world. School pushes too far to the extreme, which is – blur the lines on what you believe.

I used to think that it was important to keep kids as a blank slate until they get old enough to have their own mind. And I used to get annoyed by how misled I was a child about the “Truth” of our world. But now that I’ve had some experience talking to teens who are amorphous in their beliefs, I’ve come to see that most kids don’t want to come up with their own belief systems. They want to hang on to what they are taught.

Now, I wonder, is this something we’re fostering in our schools? Is it the way our educational system works that keeps kids wanting to follow whatever is told of them, or is it part of the maturation cycle? Do kids who blindly believe what their parents or teachers believe do it by choice, and by personal preference? Or is this a coping mechanism of the developing mind – it’s easier to go with what is being taught to me than to struggle with the big questions.

I don’t have teens, but this intrigues me. Does it really matter if kids are led to believe what they are taught is “true”, if the doubting and self-discovery phase doesn’t really happen until the late teens or early twenties anyway? Or does this phase happen at this age simply because we’ve nurtured that delay of development in our children by holding off real inquiry until they are “adults”? Those with teens, what do you think?

4th Body Found When F-18 Hit San Diego Residential Area: My immediate thought was – what if this hit a school? Perhaps it’s better to keep the kids scattered. Ok, so that’s a little over the top, and quite disrespectful. But hey, anything and everything can be linked to education, and that’s what happened to me when I became a homeschooler – my brain turned into an education radar.


Worldschooling, Not Unschooling

1114746_i_love_my_worldAs many of you know, I struggle with the unschooling label. Generally, I don’t consider myself an “unschooler’. Or rather, I wear the label very loosely. I prefer the term “zenschooling,” since it is more in line with how I process the concept of education, and how we practice it as a family.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover another term that resonates with us – “worldschooling.”

Read more at the new Just Enough blog.

The Library Isn’t Just for Books

As you know, homeschoolers love libraries. I have yet to meet a homeschooler that says, “eh, libraries, take them or leave them.” At the library, there is no gatekeeper between the learner and knowledge. At the library, it’s not just about books. There are also movies, magazines, computers, and more. And it’s (almost) all free!

There are at least 27 free things you can get at the library. Does your local library have other free services (or almost free) that you would recommend to others?

Can an Uneducated Teen Be Successful?

A young adult at Yahoo! Answers, who was homeschooled, is having trouble finding her way. She asked this question:

I was homeschooled from 7th grade on. 7ths and 8th grade my mom did with my brother and I. Highschool we did on our own, it was from Harcourt Learning Direct (used to be ICS, and Thompson Education Direct). I didn’t really understand anything because I hate reading so I just skipped to the tests at the end, almost flunked on Math but I cheated from my brothers books so I would pass. But I’m not really smart. Infact, even 6th grade which was public school I didn’t do good.

Am I doomed to be stupid with no job? How did the rest of you do that were home schooled?

Here was my answer to her, which she chose as the best answer.

In all honesty, this isn’t a homeschooling question. There are many just-graduated teens from public or private school who are wondering the same thing.

Also, there are enough stupid people with jobs out there, that it’s clear that intelligence is not an essential component to having a job.

A large number of very successful people in this world came from less-than perfect childhoods, and many were not good students (or were not traditionally educated).

So, what makes people successful?

1) They do not define who they are by their problems. Successful people define themselves by who they believe themselves to be. That’s why someone who doesn’t seem like she’s “all that” can do very well, while someone who is obviously talented can bomb. It’s all about how we perceive ourselves. You’ll have a hard time being successful if you continue to see yourself as stupid or uneducated. In other words, you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will.

2) Successful people have goals. What are your goals? Even if you have a Harvard degree, if you have no goals, it will be hard to find success.

3) Successful people keep on going. No matter what. You don’t have a degree, or knowledge, or ability? Keep going anyway. Don’t let that stop you. Keep learning, getting stronger, understanding yourself and your world.

4) Success does not get handed to you on a silver platter. Success doesn’t come from the outside, it comes from the inside. If that is true, then it doesn’t matter where you went to school. You’re out of school now, if you want to be successful and satisfied in your life, that’s your responsibility that you have to take seriously. Waiting for someone or something to give it to you will be a lifelong wait.

5) Lastly, successful people don’t whine. Seriously. Successful people don’t complain, blame people or things, or otherwise put negative energy out into the universe. If you want to be successful, you have to act successful. Whining about how you’re not smart or didn’t have a good enough education will only convince people that’s true and keep you in a constant state of wondering when you’ll be successful.

Very, very few people who are successful as adults will tell you that their young years were full of nothing but win after win. Successful people generally have gone through many struggles, and it’s how they pick their behinds up, brush themselves off, and start over, again and again, that makes them successful.

Given that, so long as you are alive, you always have the opportunity to have a successful adult life. It’s up to you.

Other similar posts:

Perfect Homeschooling, Regretting Decisions, and Curriculum Choice
Top 10 Tips for Deschooling

5 Incredible and Unique Benefits of Homeschooling

This list of 54 Unique Benefit of Homeschooling is going around our homeschool lists. I think in this case “unique” means “different than the other things on the list”. As I was reading it, I came up with some “unique” benefits that are “different than what most people see on lists of why it’s good to homeschool.”

5 Incredible and Unique Benefits of Homeschooling

1. Freedom to enjoy the process. Pressure is everywhere to be smarter, faster, earn more money, get independent, grow up, win, win, win. There is a perpetual push to strive for what we’re going to have tomorrow, and the sooner the better, because it’s tomorrow that will finally bring us happiness. That is total and complete baloney on Wonder bread. Homeschoolers can discover the joy that comes from not being in a huge rush to attain a goal, and be comfortable in the process. Life is a process. Getting the goal isn’t the good part, it’s the experience of working towards it that is exhilarating.

2. Freedom to fail. Homeschoolers can fail over and over without the stress of having to report those failures to a assessor. Real learning comes from having the freedom to fail, then getting back up to try again. And many times, these failures need to happen at our own pace, without the constant scrutiny of an expert, or someone more experiences. Our schools abhore failure. There is no time to fail. If a child fails once, that puts him behind. Where is there time to really learn if a child doesn’t have the room to fail over and over? Homeschooling gives children the freedom (and the parents too), to take their time to fail. And not to define themselves by these failures, but to see them as steps towards growth and understanding. When a child is considered “smart” because she never fails, I challenge you to look close at the child’s behavior and see how often she’s willing to take real risks. Homeschoolers don’t have to be in a rush to win, so they can risk all they want, and be free to fail all they want. Homeschoolers never fall behind when there is no push to constantly be successful.

3. Freedom to be comfortable. Homeschoolers can work where they want, when they want, in the clothes they want, with the tools they want, with the people they want. They can eat, sleep, talk, read, write, draw, listen to music, and watch TV when they want. They can wear make up or not. They can dye their hair any color, go barefoot, wear T-shirts that say whatever they want. Basically, being a homeschooler means freedom to be physically and psychologically comfortable.

4. Learning to be personally accountable. One of the reasons school is such an appealing prospect, is that when we send our children to traditional school, we give up a huge part of our own personal accountability. We are giving the responsibility to the teachers to impart their wisdom on our children, giving the teachers the responsibility to know what they need to learn, and giving teachers the role of having to be accountable if something doesn’t work. That’s what the schools want us to do, and parents are happy to do this. It is liberating. Unfortunately, the kids learn to do this too. They give up their own personal accountability because school is all about what is assigned to them. Just as parents give up their role as directors of their children’s education, children give up their role as directors of their own education. The children who make an effort to stay in control of their own learning are considered rebels and trouble makers. Homeschool children have the opportunity, if so given by the parents, to learn to be personally accountable for their own lives and learning. The more practice that have with this as they grow up, the more likely they are going to be personally accountable and responsible adults. And that’s not to mean that they will be good little workers, like our society wants our school children to be. It means that these children don’t wait to be told what to think or to learn. They take initiative to learn what they need to because they have learned that nobody is going to hand their lives to them on a plate. They can serve themselves. This is not an innate benefit of homeschooling. This is an opportunity that homeschoolers can choose to have.

5. Learning how to deal with emotions. How many of us have memories of being humiliated, embarrassed, angry, helpless, stressed, or lonely during school? It’s a common myth that homeschooling is supposed to keep kids from feeling these things. Or that it’s to protect them from all the bad that comes with childhood. Homeschooled children feel the same emotions during their childhood. They have similar experiences arguing with friends, being disappointed, being upset, humiliated, and all these things. The difference is that kids in school have to learn to deal with these emotions by huddling together with other kids their own age, who have no idea either how to deal with them. It’s the lucky few who have adults in their lives who they can confide in totally, and learn to deal with those emotions on a regular basis. Homeschooling offers that. It is normal state of affairs that if a homeschool child has a strong emotion, they head straight for an adult for help. The adult, who, in most cases, has a much stronger grasp on emotions, can help them deal with them. Homeschooling offers the opportunity for children to fully feel these emotions often. Emotions are tough to learn to deal with for any child. It’s part of maturing. Just as adults who have trouble dealing with their own emotions can’t learn from unstable friends, kids can’t learn from other kids how to be mature. Kids and adults learn from those who are more evolved, compassionate, in control of themselves, and have learned from their experiences. Homeschooled kids have access to that kind of emotional strength on a 24/7 basis. And because of that, they have the opportunity to learn to deal with their emotions in a gradual way, by fully experiencing them, and then having a safe place to recover from them.

Can you think of anything to add? Have you seen any benefits that don’t get talked about much?

Songs by Geniuses Who Didn’t Belong in School

935615_concert.jpgAs we all know, school isn’t the best match for those who are highly creative. It’s no wonder, then, that many songs by talented artists express criticism of school. People of genius, and that includes musicians, don’t belong in school.

I was listening to some Paul Simon today, who is undoubtedly a musical genius, and heard this song, called Kodachrome.

Kodachrome – Words & music by Paul Simon

When I think back
On all the crap I learned in high school
It’s a wonder
I can think at all
And though my lack of edu—cation
Hasn’t hurt me none
I can read the writing on the wall

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my kodachrome away

If you took all the girls I knew
When I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know theyd never match
My sweet imagination
And everything looks worse in black and white

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don’t take my kodachrome away

I wonder though, if kids of genius aren’t forced to go to school, where will they place their creative angst? And what would they write about? Perhaps geniuses need something to rebel against, to ignite that passionate spirit and to create amazing works of art? What do you think? Can a comfortable and happy genius still create inspired works of art?

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Just Enough School, Just Enough Life

I found a sister blog today, HavingEnough. She’s a mom and a writer. She’s not a homeschooler (although she’s considering it), she brings up universal ideas of having and doing “enough”. I was happily surprised by how similar our messages are, just in different context.

Here are some gems:

“More is essentially good. Except when it’s already enough.”

and in another post she says…

“I know I can’t avoid it all, but I can at least try to find educational settings where there is an awareness of these issues and a true desire to lessen their impact. What I can do: not overschedule her (I’m already boycotting all the baby classes!), not give into the consumer crazies, be aware, not push her to “achieve,” but rather show a love of learning for its own sake in our home. Still, it takes a village and all that.”