Friday, January 2, 2009
Homeschooling through Andrew's eyes
Hello everyone. Today's Heart of the Matter "meme" is about seeing homeschooling through the eyes of the child who's actually being homeschooled. Because of that fact, this post is not being written by Momtofivekids, but instead by her oldest son Andrew. I'm seventeen years old and a senior in high school. This year, I will be graduating from a lifetime of homeschooling that started in kindergarten. I've never been a full-time student anywhere but my own house, and I'm proud of it. I also looked up "meme" in the dictionary and can't find it, but my mom insists that it's a real word.
So what is it that I love so much about taking classes in the livingroom? I think I just answered my own question. :) One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the freedom to do it in the comfort of the home. It is my belief that formal, schoolhouse-based education was started with the false premise that learning must be done from a desk. The reason for this and many other scholastic institutions is that, in my opinion, public school systems have set themselves up for failure. If you start with the presupposition that schooling should be conducted in a large group of children under the guidance of one adult, then of course you'll have to put each child in a confining desk and force them to all conform to the same standard of excellence, whether or not all of them are ready for that yet, and of course you'll have to enforce strict rules about getting up from their seat, doing assignments, and talking. Otherwise, you'll never keep them under control, much less teach them anything.
On the flipside, the opportunity for the individual to take instruction from the people who know their strengths and weaknesses best in the safety and ease of their home provides the optimal learning environment, one that is tailored to the needs of the individual. If everyone teaches their own child, there's no need for an institution that can't hope to meet the needs of all of its students. Now, I know that assuming that everyone could teach their own child is a faulty assumption. Obviously, there are situations in which one or both parents work, as well as other extenuating circumstances, that make homeschooling impossible. If you have the ability, though... do it!
So obviously, being able to lounge around on the couch is a plus. In addition to that, being educated as an individual means that more learning happens in less time. Studies have been done on it, not that I can find them online by the time I finish typing this. Oh well, you're all homeschooling moms so you know I'm right. One of the things I've really been encouraged by as a homeschooler is the times that I have taken a class at a private or public school. For example, I am currently taking a class at a private school, and while it is, in my opinion, the model private school, and the closest thing to homeschooling I've ever seen, it's still nearly impossible for the teacher to connect with each student, though he tries very hard. It's also difficult to make an entire lesson fit within the one hour that he has to teach it.
That leads me to another point for homeschooling and against public or private schools: Homeschooling allows the student to learn at their own pace. This is a fact I alluded to earlier, when I mentioned the standard that is placed before the entire class as a unit. In reality, everyone learns at a different pace. However, the structure of a public or private school necessitates that each student be given the same amount of time to learn a lesson or complete an assignment, and if they fail, they are obviously being lazy. If they succeed, sign them up for honors classes! As a homeschooler, not only am I allowed to take more time on each physics lesson, I also have the ability to breeze through my British Literature course and finish it early, since there's no reason for me to stay behind if I'm ready for the next level.
If you really want to get on my nerves, bring up the "fact" that homeschoolers don't get enough socialization. I and hundreds of people I know have busted that myth. In fact, when I was interviewed about a homeschool prom I was attending, I proposed an alternate hypothesis to the reporter: in a lot of cases, I think that homeschooling provides an incentive to become involved in your community and in society, because you don't have the daily interaction with peers automatically as a result of going to school. Also, it gives me the freedom to choose what kinds of people I become friends with.
Even though I'm eleven years older than the narrator of the sample "meme" (a word that I refuse to take out of quotation) was when he wrote about homeschooling, I find that I agree with him a heck of a lot. I too enjoyed learning about the Mongols and their vampire-like dietary preferences. When I sit still, I also feel like I'll go crazy. And I've felt like just flopping on the floor while sitting in a desk in my private school ethics class (I didn't). Homeschooling is the way it should be, and I'm doing my best to prove it.