A classroom is an especially difficult place for a wiggly kid. And what a challenge for a teacher who feels the pressure to make sure all the kids perform well on the prerequisite tests.
The agenda of public schools is quite simple: Educate the children well (as demonstrated through good grades) so they can go to college (and get good grades) to the ultimate end of getting a good job. (“So, how’s that working for you?” Dr. Phil asks the unemployed IT guy.)
I think most folks can agree that the goal to have well educated children is laudable. The differences start to arise though, in how we quantify a successful education.
Sadly, the measures used in public education are quite limited and conformity driven. (Think achievement tests and grades.)
To corral kids by their age group and insist they all perform at the same level academically is not unlike how a factory assembly line works. Set them on the conveyor belt when they’re five and pick them up twelve years down the road.
That approach may work for autos but it’s a disaster for children. They are not empty-headed, future people needing an ongoing data dump as they proceed down the line. They are individuals with specific wiring and giftings. And quite often, they are on their own time schedule. (Ha- Try to run an assembly line like that!)
I hurt for kids….especially the boys… that don’t do well on the tests. Who have trouble sitting still while the teachers lectures on a subject that bores them to tears.
And even more so…buries the identity of a child whose goal in life becomes fitting in. This is a nasty brew that will simmer until a midlife crisis 40 years down the road or so when a person realizes they have no idea of who they are and the dreams have long gone died.
My reasons for homeschooling have changed over the years. Lately, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to homeschool Daniel because I am watching him emerge as a confident young man who knows who he is.
(And it’s not because I’m such a spectacular teacher or amazing mom…trust me when I say it is in spite of my shortcomings.)
Homeschooling has allowed Daniel time to sort through his interests. And to discover himself. It’s an important life skill and one, if statistics are an indication, something we’ve not done well at developing in school- because most people are unhappy in their work/careers.
Dan Miller, a successful career coach, tells folks that the most important step to finding work they love is to first look within and discover who they are. He contends the vast majority of energy spent in a job search, 85%, should be on looking within…before sending out the resumes.
Recently, Daniel went to lunch with a local radio announcer. A very successful man with an international audience, I was humbled by this man’s kindness to indulge Daniel and his invitation to lunch.
Replying to a thank you note I emailed to him, he said this of his visit with Daniel:
Daniel is different from others…He knows he’s different, and when I asked him if he was at peace with himself and if he was comfortable with who he is, Daniel responded, “Absolutely.” That is very refreshing to hear…
And it was refreshing for me to read his kind words.
We homeschool moms think our kid’s future lies in picking the right curriculum or doing things “right.” It’s a road I’ve traveled many times…and the destination is always the same: Fear and worry!
And then I’m reminded. It’s not about the right curriculum or how your child is schooled. It’s all about trusting our kids- and their identity- to God. Just give it time. Nurture their individuality.
And enjoy the journey…