A couple days ago I was using that wonderful Internet tool called Stumbleupon (SU). If you are not familiar with it…basically you join, you choose the type of web sites you like to surf (aka parenting, homemaking, gardening, etc.) you download the SU toolbar and then when you hit the Stumble button on your toolbar you get taken to a random site or blog that matches your preferences. You can give them a thumbs up or a thumbs down and you can leave reviews. I get LOTS of traffic from Stumbleupon as people submit my blog posts for surfing (the SU link is at the bottom of every post).
As I mentioned, I like to surf using Stumbleupon because I like to visit new sites and find cool links. Primarily I surf sites related to homeschooling, parenting, homemaking, and environment.
Now of course you may be wondering what in the sam dickens this has to do with public school. Well, I found a ‘cool’ article that basically berates public education and talks about the author’s experiences and those found in the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. Calvin the cartoon despises school.
My first thought was that the author was being a bit harsh. After all I really liked school for the most part. I had lots of friends, I had nice teachers (including the dreamy Mr. Belden) and I got good grades. School was pretty much a cake walk for me. BUT as I was reading this man’s thoughts I started to remember my older brother who did not have such an easy time in school. Of course that has more to do with the fact that he is a clinical genius and was smarter than every teacher they could muster up and he was bored out of his mind.
Then I started to recall how my husband hated school with a passion and then some of the remarks about school making us compliant and docile started to hit home. When I graduated highschool (at 16) I went immediately into college so I could get a “good job”. I didn’t particularly care if I liked the job I just wanted a job that meant good money because school teaches that freedom isn’t free. Good citizens get good paying jobs like drones or worker bees. Basically public school encourages sheepism. If you want happiness you have to pay for it.
Remember what that CA judge said recently after he declared homeschooling to fall outside our constitutional rights as parents. He said the primary function of public schools is to teach “good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare”. Barf…
Fast forward several years and I was doing marketing and advertising and I was good at it. The money was good and I had financial freedom. But after only 4 years I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be home with my son and I was about to have another baby and I didn’t want to have my kids being raised by someone else. If I was passionate about my work that might make it easier but having to go to a place I was coming to dread every day while someone else got to see the first smiles and hear the first words was unbearable. Public school didn’t teach me to figure out what I loved and what I was passionate about. Not in the least.
Education should not just be about learning academically. It should also be about learning about yourself and finding what energizes you. Now after more than 4 years at home I have found what energizes me. I love to write, I love to blog, I love to design web sites and graphics, I love affiliate marketing, I love activism, I love community involvement, I love helping my kids figure out what energizes them and being there for them 100%. The pay isn’t quite what it used to be but I am free and happy. You can’t put a price tag on that. I wake up every day excited to be right where I am.
Looking back I can see how I could have seen the signs when I was in school but I had public school induced tunnel vision. I did what I was told…period…end of story. Well, I can’t say that applies to me anymore. ;) If only my mother had homeschooled me. She used to to tell me I could do anything in the world I wanted to do…that if I could dream it…I could do it. But I learned to not believe her. Now as she tells my kids that same thing I am right there beside her telling them more of the same.
If I had been homeschooled and allowed to pursue the things that interested me and energized me I can pretty much guarantee that I would not have done much math. And this would have been a-okay. Math doesn’t interest me…in the least. I walked away from public school thinking I was math challenged but all it took was a cool college chemistry teacher to show me that I could do math just fine….when it had practical application. My apparent inability to grasp math in school had a negative impact on my overall opinion of myself.
Now my seven year old son, who during spring break made a graph calculating the number of gallons of water that could potentially be held inside the Delaware dam near our home…is struggling with reading and writing. His teachers tell me I need to work him hard on those two issues but yet he wants to sit on the couch with his notebook and work with numbers. How long will it be before he starts to feel academically inferior simply because his strengths lay somewhere else?
Public school might work out famously for some but the reality is that for many others it is simply NOT a good option. My brother, my husband, Calvin, B.R. Merrick…public schools strangled them. School for them is drudgery. And even those people who think their public school experience was positive (like me), they might unexpectedly find that their schooling made them docile and they forgot to dream and find a life’s work that energizes them and actually makes them happy.
It also should make people realize that if homeschooling isn’t an option (and for many it isn’t) parents need to be on guard that their kids are not pushed and molded into something that just isn’t them. I think my son’s teacher thinks I am a bit “out there” with my advice to my son about not conforming. I have gotten lecture notes from her about why she thinks something I have “taught” my son is not appropriate, LOL. It is almost always about how I tell him it is okay to color outside the lines, so to speak. But yet when face to face and I explain MY view on this or that she concedes that perhaps that is the way things “should” be but it is not the way they “are” in public school settings.
But still I am letting my kids choose…public or home schooling. That is unless public schooling is proving to be harmful to their sense of self worth…either way I will be actively involved in the whole process.
Other points in the article I liked…Merrick gives ten life lessons that you learn from public school. Number nine is “stay away from the weird kids”. I had too laugh at that one but it is true. How many schools teach that diversity in appearance, attitude, and opinion is a good thing? They don’t. They want everyone to be the same….like sheep. The kid with pink hair and a dog collar who recites Tolstoy gets ostracized while in my experience they were the one most likely to be interesting.
Number one is “Learning, like work, is not meant to be enjoyable.” Ugh…I actually caught myself saying this essentially to my oldest the other day. We agreed that he would finish out the school year at public and then we would start our homeschool adventure. Well, I have been having a tough time getting him motivated to go.
Payton: Why do I have to go to school?
Mom: Because for right now it is your responsibility.
Mom: Well, it is kind of like a job. You know how Papa doesn’t like to go to work everyday but he does it anyway because it is his job and his responsibility. School is your job….even if you don’t like to go.
Somebody slap me! I just told my kid that learning is drudgery and not meant to be fun. Why don’t I just compare it to how I have to clean the toilets in the house. Maybe that would go over better. I think I need the homeschool experience more than he does.
Anyway, kudos to B.R. Merrick for an insightful article.
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