Monday, June 25, 2007

Teaching Your Own Children

It is obvious to me that we need an alternative to the government-funded and state-sponsored system of educating our children. In previous posts (here's one) I have provided many urgent reasons for getting the children away from the UN-tainted schools. But assuming that this is an agenda that Americans are willing to fight for, what are the alternatives? This is an open-ended question, one which will need very, very care-ful examination.

I am of the opinion that the schools cannot be fixed, do not want to be fixed - therefore, we must look outside the schools for solutions, for educational goals. Private schools are a luxury, usually only available to special groups, Christian faith-based, Jewish, and maybe ones I don't even know about. It is a small percentage of families who can afford that route, excellent though it may be. It is certainly preferable to public schools. But private schools, or community-run schools are do-able, if parents are willing to to work toward that goal. [I inadvertently forgot to mention secular private schools, which also abound in the U.S. - but which are, unfortunately available only to people of means, plus a small number of children on scholarships]

I frankly admit that my efforts to date have been mainly to reach out to homeschooling parents, give encouragement, and point out reasons to stay the course. But I don't want to preach to the choir, either. Homeschoolers know more than I ever will about what is good for their children, what works, what doesn't. My job is certainly not to educate them. My reasons for supporting homeschooling as an alternative to state-run schools is purely personal: I looked into the future, and saw a horror story, see it still, unfolding in America. If we don't fight for freedom, we will lose our freedom. Our children must be able to think, reflect, discriminate, and reason their way through the maze of socialized insanity our government is creating. Minimally, I would want that for the young ones, just for their own security, their own worth as human beings.

The Dewey-based "progressive" secular humanist policies that have been carefully put in place over the last 50 years most certainly have no room for free-thinkers in their classrooms. And that's the problem. School children are being inculcated with a collectivist mentality, a socialized personality. That is unacceptable. Period. This is war, folks. And you better get that right.

Nor do I know anything about homeschooling, per se. What I have is experience teaching a wide range of subjects. My take on teaching another human being is fairly simple: know a little more than the one you are teaching. That's usually enough to get the job done. If it's not enough, then look together for a solution.

The other qualities one might possess will be taught indirectly. I don't think you can "teach" someone how to be a good, moral, law-abiding person. You can only be who you are; the good, and bad qualities will be assimilated, or not. I don't think we have any control over what goes into a person's being, but we can expose them to good impressions: good ideas, good art, good literature, good music, good friends (probably the most important). How they turn out is between them and God. Incidentally, this notion of mine was a source of unending conflict between my (teenage)self and my fundamental Southern Baptist parents. They wanted a bit more control over the ideas I held than I was willing to give. For what it's worth, I think we are all equal in the eyes of God, who loves us all. It is up to each of us to consciously find our way back to Him. We are either moving closer to that Ocean of Love, or we are moving away from it. In the realm of being, there is no standing still. Whether that is good news or bad depends on the direction you feel you are moving. Sometimes I don't know, and that's when I need to take stock.

I will continue to support homeschooling , and pass along to you what I find that seems useful. You can read more here, and here.

If you have never homeschooled before, John Holt, who was a teacher and author, can provide a broad range of reasons for doing so. To get things going I will give you some of his thoughts.


The following interview took place in Seattle where John Holt was speaking at a homeschoolers' conference:

Question: What are some of the changes and challenges you see parents going through as they have gotten involved in home schooling?

Answer: The hardest one is learning to trust their children, learning that they don't have to make learning happen. Learning that you don't have to be stimulating them all the time. Parents start teaching their kids because they feel a strong sense of responsibility but they tend to sometimes feel more responsible than they really are. The hardest thing to do is learn to back off. There are surely millions of people in this country who are pretty indifferent to what their kids do, but they're not home schooling.

Home-schoolers ask questions like, "How can I be sure I'm giving my child enough?" I have to say, just the world out there as it is has plenty of food for thought. You don't have to make your life one long field trip or turn your home into a miniature of the Smithsonian or the Metropolitan Museum.

Children are better at thinking than we are for the most part. There are certain kinds of specialized thinking that we are better at than they are, but for the most part if we look at those components of the scientific method - observation, wondering, speculating, theorizing, testing theory - point for point they do this better than most of us. People who are as good as kids at doing this are usually distinguished scientists, geniuses, prize winners, and so forth. The old saying that children go to school to learn how to learn doesn't make sense. They're better at it than we are!

An excerpt from his book:

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling (revised 2003)

We can sum up very quickly what people need to teach their own children. First of all, they have to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness, and passion. They have to enjoy all their questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer those questions. They have to think of their children as friends. Indeed very close friends, have to feel happier when near and miss them when they are away. They have to trust them as people, respect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children's wonder, curiosity, and excitement about the world. And they have to have enough confidence in themselves, skepticism about experts, and willingness to be different than most people, to take on themselves the responsibility for their children's learning. But that is about all the parents need. Perhaps only a minority of parents has these qualities. Certainly some have more than others. Many will gain more as they know their children better; most of the people who have been teaching their children at home say that it has made them like them more, not less. In any case, these are not qualities that can be taught or learned in school, or measured with a test, or certified with a piece of paper.

- John Holt

Homeschool trackbacks:
sweet | salty
HS Blog - Homeschool Blog
Here in the Bonny Glen

American Patriot trackbacks: The Anchoress, Joy in the Morning, Woman Honor Thyself
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson's Website, Rightlinx, Big Dog's Weblog, Right Truth, Maggie's Notebook, The World According to Carl, Webloggin, Leaning Straight Up, and Pursuing Holiness, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.