Kindergarten

Kindergarten: (noun). From the German meaning “a child’s garden”.

God plants two seeds into the garden of every child’s life. They are His gifts both to the child and to the world.

The flowers these seeds are intended to bear are curiosity and the capacity to be amazed.

Curiosity and amazement are beautiful flowers; but, they are wildflowers. Being delicate, their survival depends on a certain level of chaos. Not just chaos allowed, but chaos promoted. Unfortunately for the child (and for the world), most gardeners see them as weeds extending themselves beyond the straight rows and over the trimmed hedges.

However, when a child escapes the gardener’s spade–and when the seeds God has planted are allowed to fully mature–that child grows up discovering answers to questions no one else is even asking and doing what no one else dare attempt.

I always welcome comments to anything I write so please use the space, below, to let me know your opinions. Have a great 2016!

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

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Homeschooling or Lifeschooling?

I rarely use this venue to promote a conference, but this one is different.

Many of us who helped pioneer the Homeschooling Movement now use the phrase “Lifeschooling” to distinguish what we did from what many contemporary homeschoolers are doing today.

The Conference is called “WINGS: LIFESCHOOLING CONFERENCE AND ACTIVITIES FAIR. Merging LIFE with Homeschooling” and it takes place in Matthews, NC on July 7-9.

Speakers include: Israel Wayne, Wendy Rhondina, Chalanda Frazier, Dr. Frank Turek, Mark & Lisa Metzger, and Danielle Papageorgiou.

My book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally will be your free gift when you sign up for the Conference.

GO HERE for all the Conference details!

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Get Lost

Why is it so important to stop and smell the roses? To keep stopping and keep smelling the roses?

Because the journey is much more important than the destination.

With the advent of GPS, it’s almost impossible to get lost these days. But, not getting lost keeps us from accidentally stumbling upon so many adventures that could make life interesting.

Homeschoolers tend to schedule their children’s days such that the kids never have time to wander and explore and wonder. Instead of giving them a microscope and telling them to go outside, we spend their lives in the predictable, those unchanging and unchallenging tasks that arrest natural curiosity.

Along life’s journey, allow yourself to get lost from time to time. The temporary feeling of insecurity you will have while wondering where you are cannot compare to the joy you will have when you find yourself.

If you stop to smell the roses, the world may rush right past you. They will arrive at the destination before you do. But they will have missed the scent that awaits those who stop and linger. And smell the roses.

The journey really is more important than the destination.

 
I always welcome comments to anything I write so please use the space, below, to let me know your opinions. Have a great 2016!

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

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&

A Millionaire Seeks the Purpose of a Public Education

 

I am sending excerpts from a very long article entitled Venture Capitalist Searches for the Meaning of School. Here’s What He Found in order to encourage homeschoolers that a huge shift is coming in how children will one day be educated. It is encouraging because the changes will release homeschoolers from feeling they must keep following the ineffective way children are educated in the public schools and it will allow homeschooling parents the freedom to do what is actually in their hearts to do for their own children.

Go here if you have an interest in reading the entire article.

Ted Dintersmith is a highly successful venture capitalist and father of two who is devoting most of his time, energy and part of his personal fortune to education-related initiatives that call for a radical remaking of what and how students learn.  He organized, funded and produced the documentary Most Likely to Succeed, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015.  He, along with co-author Tony Wagner, recently released a book titled Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era.  And he is conducting a 50-state tour to encourage communities all over the country to re-think the purpose of school.

By Ted Dintersmith

Once in a blue moon, our nation focuses a modest amount of attention on our schools, and their purpose. Last year, William Deresiewicz’ excellently titled book Excellent Sheep triggered a flurry of discussionas he argued that education should help students in “building a soul” after “teaching kids to think.”

A decade ago, I hadn’t given any of this much thought. I finished my formal education in 1981, which included degrees from a public high school and a state college. My family was poor, but education back then was cheap. I finished school debt-free with solid credentials, and set out on a successful career in innovation — six years with a semiconductor start-up and two decades in venture capital. During those years, if someone had asked me about education’s purpose, my response would have been superficial. The system worked for me, and I assumed it was on solid footing.

As my career progressed, I became increasingly concerned with issues beyond my portfolio of start-ups.

Those concerns weren’t life-changing for me, just perplexing. After retiring at an early age, I planned to travel, get good at golf, and be an involved parent with my young children. Two seemingly inconsequential experiences, though, changed my plans.

Early Wake-Up Call: When my son was in third grade, his science class was studying simple machines. With twenty bucks and a quick trip to Home Depot, we got everything needed to set up shop in the basement, and started playing around with boards, screws, and pulleys. One evening, we set out to design something that would let him lift a cinder block with his little finger. We came up with an approach that, I remarked in passing, he could use to lift his 250 lb. basketball coach. We laughed.

The next week, he came home from school discouraged: “I guess I’m not good at science.” He showed me his simple-machine test, which had blobs of red ink over the question “What simple machine would you use to lift a grown man?” His response was “a six-pulley system,” and included a sketch with pulleys, rope, and stick figures of a man and a child. While the design looked sound, there was a big red X across his answer with the terse note: “ -17.LEVER   ! ! ”

After putting my Tiger Dad response behind me, I approached the teacher with a constructive suggestion: “Instead of asking which simple machine to use, why not ask students to come up with as many designs as possible?”   The answer floored me. “Throughout school, these kids will need to take standardized tests. We need to prepare them properly. Open-ended questions can confuse them.”

Decisive Wake-Up Call: When my kids were in middle school, parents received a brief e-mail inviting us to a brown-bag lunch about a “new initiative to teach your kids life skills.” In anticipation, I began jotting down ideas I thought they might cover: essential skills (e.g., inventive problem solving, teamwork, communication, figuring out complicated things), character traits (determined, resourceful, resilient, bold), and important capabilities (learning how to learn, making good decisions, setting and accomplishing ambitious goals, learning how to make your world better). With list in hand, I came to the session prepared.

Well, it didn’t go as I expected. The transformational initiative? A mandatory monthly session with gym teachers showing young teens gruesome images to scare them away from the vice of the month. For example, to dissuade kids from smoking cigarettes, show them an assortment of tar-ridden lungs and cancer-ravaged mouths. I doubt if this initiative had permanent impact on the students, but it did on me.

As I drove home, I found myself locked in. What is the purpose of school? How does school prepare kids for life? When the question refused to go away, I developed a plan. Historically, I focused on how my kids were doing in school, and how hard they were working. Now, I would start tracking what my kids were doing, and what skills they were developing. I ditched my golf clubs (a relief), and started reading books, watching documentaries, interviewing experts, and meeting teachers and students across all demographics and geographies. In an attempt to be systematic, I decided to categorize what I observed in schools. One column for things that helped prepare kids for life. And one column for things that were irrelevant. I expected both columns to fill up quickly.

Irrelevant: The “Irrelevant” column filled within days, spilling onto additional pages. You will immediately associate these entries with school — factoring polynomials, memorizing the definition of mitosis, past participles, conjugating French verbs, facts about the Mesopotamians. And on and on. Things important in school, but never used in life. To prepare for exams, students had to cram bucketfuls of this easily-tested material into short-term memory. The “better” the school or the faster the track, the more to be memorized. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t connect any of this with something important in life.

Preparing Kids for Life: For sure, students have many experiences during their school years that prepare them for life. Grades K-6 help kids learn to read, write, and perform core math operations — all of vital import. But in higher grades, only an occasional school assignment — such as writing an essay — helps build an important life skill. For the most part, life preparation occurs through experiences outside the classroom. They develop passions and competencies through an after-school club or program.   They learn the value of teamwork and dedication through athletics. Or they get encouragement from an adult who believes in them, and elevates their aspirations. But in the context of curriculum, the “Preparing Kids for Life” column was close to empty.

So mountains of irrelevance and molehills of consequence. But that wasn’t the worst of it. I had to add a third column.

Impairing Life Prospects:   To my surprise, I observed a lot in school that I knew would hurt their prospects in a world of innovation. A form of anti-preparation, if you will. From my 30-year career, I was clear about what young adults will need in the 21st Century. Yet, I kept seeing variants of that darn 3rd grade simple-machines lesson. Creative expansive thinking turning into narrow, prescriptive “right answers,”. Inquisitiveness shriveling up into “Will this be on the test?”   A joy for learning worn down into time-efficient hoop-jumping. A willingness to take intellectual risks morphing into formulaic responses without risk of embarrassment. Making your world better becoming a dreary requirement to pick up trash.

And then it hit me, full force. The most innovative country on the planet is blowing it. As we move full swing into an era of innovation, the United States should be educating to our creative strengths, but instead we’re eroding the very characteristics that will enable our kids to thrive. We’re setting kids up for a life without passion, purpose, or meaningful employment. Absent profound change, our country is a decade away from having 50 million chronically-unemployed young adults, adrift in life and awash in debt.

I was now fully consumed with this cause. I stepped up my pace, criss-crossing the country to visit schools and gain perspective. I was in hot pursuit of the right answer to the question: “What is the purpose of school?” Everywhere I looked — mission statements, meetings with school leaders, websites — I’d find sensible, even inspiring, purposes:

  • teach students cognitive and social skills
  • teach students to think
  • build character and soul
  • help students in a process of self-discovery
  • prepare students to be responsible, contributing citizens
  • inspire students through the study of humanity’s great works
  • prepare students for productive careers

I probed educators on these alternatives, trying to determine the purpose of school, as though answering an SAT question. But I gradually came to realize that this choice was poorly framed. For starters, each of these goals have merit. If some classrooms prepare students for productive careers, and others prioritize on character development, that’s a good thing. And shouldn’t we celebrate an educator who accomplishes one of these goals — not snipe over whether an alternative purpose is superior?

But what came across loud and clear in my journeys is that schools don’t have the luxury of striving for any meaningful purpose. We’ve somehow imposed a system on our educators that requires them to:

  • cover volumes of bureaucratically-prescribed content
  • boost scores on increasingly-pervasive standardized tests
  • get kids through this year’s vacuous hoops to prepare for next year’s vacuous hoops
  • produce acceptable graduation rates and college placements
  • deal with parents who are either obsessive micro-managers or missing in action.

How did we get here? A deep dive into the history of education helped me appreciate that our school model was brilliantly designed. Over a century ago. In 1893, Charles Eliot of Harvard and the Committee of Ten anticipated a surge of manufacturing jobs as our country moved beyond agriculture. They re-imagined the U.S. education model, ushering in a factory school model to replace the one-room school house. This path-breaking system of universal public education trained students to perform rote tasks rapidly without errors or creative variation — perfect for assembly-line jobs. The system worked spectacularly, a robust middle class emerged, and America became the world’s most powerful country.

Somewhat incredibly, we still utilize this covered-wagon-era education model. Warning signs about its faltering effectiveness go back for decades. In 1983, the blue-ribbon report titled A Nation at Risk concluded that if our education system had been imposed on us by a foreign country, we’d declare it an act of war. Yet instead of reinventing the model (as the Committee of Ten did in 1893), we chose to muddle along with short-term, often counter-productive, tweaks. Teachers and students described to me endless additions to content, baffling new standards, and relentless high-stakes standardized tests of low-level cognitive skills. Our nation is hell-bent on catching Singapore and South Korea on test scores — a goal those very countries have concluded is nonsensical.   We’re betting millions of futures on No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — our twin orbiting black holes of education.

And how much are our kids really learning? If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that they’re not learning. Practically anything.

In my travels, I visited the Lawrenceville School, rated as one of the very best high schools in the United States. To its credit, Lawrenceville conducted a fascinating experiment a decade ago. After summer vacation, returning students retook the final exams they had completed in June for their science courses. Actually, they retook simplified versions of these exams, after faculty removed low-level “forgettable” questions The results were stunning. The average grade in June was a B+ (87 percent). When the simplified test was taken in September, the average grade plummeted to an F (58 percent). Not one student retained mastery of all key concepts they appear to have learned in June. The obvious question: if what was “learned” vanishes so quickly, was anything learned in the first place?

The debate about the purpose of education ignores the elephant in the classroom. We have wrapped up our schools in rote memorization, low-level testing, and misguided accountability — preventing them from achieving any real purpose. It’s a fool’s errand to debate whether students are better off memorizing and forgetting Plato’s categorization of the three parts of a human’s soul, the quadratic equation, or the definition of the Cost of Goods Sold. If classroom “learning” is a mirage, it doesn’t matter whether it’s based on The Odyssey, a biology textbook, AP History flashcards, or a phone book.

The United States now has more than 500 “Deeper Learning” schools, most in our nation’s poorest communities.

A recent poll conducted by Gallup and Purdue found that a powerful predictor of life success is access to meaningful internship opportunities while in high school. Sadly, such internships are rare. Big Picture Learning, which has grown to 65 schools in more than a dozen states, has cracked the code when it comes to internships. They work with our most at-risk students, helping prepare them for life by connecting the classroom with real world opportunities. Best of all, the BPL [Project Based Learning] model relies on having students drive the process to secure a meaningful internship aligned with their interests, rather than just slotting students into make-work roles.

Given a reason to learn, students bring energy to classroom assignments, and commit “free” time (including coming in on snow days!) to improve their writing, public speaking, project management, collaboration, and math skills. They connect the dots between school and their own purpose, gaining newfound respect for teachers trying to help them. They develop a conviction that they can make their world better through their passions, talents, drive, and ability to learn. Pure genius.

So back to that purpose question. Maybe, in the end, the purpose of school is to help our kids find their own sense of purpose. To prepare them for a life where they can set, and achieve, their own goals, not grind away to meet the needs of some bureaucrat or college admissions officer. Given decades of damage from our testing and accountability strategy, maybe it’s time to place our bets on a strategy that puts its weight behind engaging and inspiring our kids . . . and teachers. Imagine what our country is capable of if we figure out how to launch millions of purpose-driven kids into society prepared and energized to their world better through their talents, passions, developing skills, and ability to learn. Kids that are, truly, prepared for life.

Oh, and as for me, I’ve come full circle. As I reflect back on my past, I was pretty much a hoop jumper. Now, I wake up each morning with conviction. I’m trying things I never would have tried, learning about areas I never paid attention to, making more mistakes in a week than I used to make in a year, and risking failure in a visible way. I’m working much harder than I ever did as a venture capitalist, watching my bank account shrink, traveling non-stop, and not even pausing to ask whether it’s fun or not. In searching for the purpose of school, I found my own.

I always welcome comments to anything I write so please use the space, below, to let me know your opinions. Have a great 2016!

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

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Part 3: Why We Are Not Yet Ready to “Do Something Else”

This is my final installment sharing why homeschoolers are not ready to Do Something Else. It is entitled The 4 Beliefs and the 2 Tyrannies

4 Mistaken Beliefs that Drive Our Homeschooling:

Belief #1: My children don’t have a Father. Of course, they have a biological mom and dad, but I have to confess I don’t see their Father (as in their Creator) being involved in homeschooling my children. First, these are not your children, but His, and He will be as involved in how you raise (and educate them) as you allow Him to be. If you can relax and allow for Him to be involved, He will direct you to homeschool the children He gave you with much more grace, peace, and joy than you can by yourself.

Belief #2: Every American child (and that includes my children) must be taught what every other child is being taught. The only choice I get to make is choosing the curricula I will use to teach that information. The reason this is false is it assumes all children are basically identical in their need for identical input as they mature. This assumption ignores everything we say we believe regarding how different God has created each of us to be.

Belief #3: All subjects must be taught beginning with the simple and moving to the more complex. This is mostly true when using a textbook approach rather than a “context” approach. For instance, a child may not be capable of understanding the Pythagorean Theorem until he has thoroughly understood Algebra. However, that same Theorem comes to him naturally as he helps his Dad build an addition to their home or adds a fence to their backyard.

Belief #4: Some subjects are important; others not so much. Dr. Mary Hood recently posted a quote from Dr. Temple Grandin: “We are focusing so much on academics that we’ve taken out things like art, sewing, cooking, woodworking, music and other things that introduce kids to [potential] careers.” Science, technology, engineering and math have become so prioritized that future artists, musicians, dancers, and poets have largely lost their importance among a people who desperately need the gifts these men and woman have to offer our culture.

2 Deceptive Tyrannies that Drive Our Homeschooling:

1. The Tyranny of the Test: If you truly believe a subject is worth mastering, don’t be satisfied until mastery is achieved. In many other subject areas, you will be satisfied with your child having a general framework of the subject which he will flesh out eventually should that subject hold an interest for him.

2. The Tyranny of the Transcript:

     a. State Requirements: Virtually every state has requirements to graduate from what is popularly called “High School”. My recommendation: Find out what these are and craft your own curricula so you may honestly state your child has fulfilled the requirements without necessarily fulfilling them in the same way he would if attending public school.

     b. College Requirements: In my opinion, college should never be a “given” for any young person (as it was in my family’s culture). However, if a child is obviously college-bound, parents and students must be aware of the countless possibilities that abound today. Many of the best colleges do not require the traditional high school transcript and many others do not require the traditional college entrance exam. Some careers require college and others are definitely benefited by college. If your child wants to attend a specific college or university, you must obey their requirements so find out what they are. Still, many career choices are actually hindered by spending years at a college which actually wastes a young person’s valuable time and money.

I always welcome comments to anything I write so please use the space, below, to let me know your opinions. Have a great 2016!

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

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…Continued From Previous Post

On my way to school that morning, I heard a public service announcement on the radio. It was the State Superintendent of Schools imploring parents and teachers to advocate for their students as they progress through their school years.

Back to my story…

If you remember, I entered the In-School Suspension classroom and told the kids I was about to tell them something no public school adult would dare say to a group of students, especially those who had just been suspended from school.

Here is what I told them:

When I was a kid, I never got ready for school thinking I was going there to cause trouble. Even back then I knew I was a pretty messed up kid. My home life wasn’t all that happy as I was being raised by people I didn’t know very well. I did have a few friends at school and I did like some of the teachers. It’s just that I always felt stupid in school and having severe ADHD didn’t help. So, I ended up causing trouble anyway. But, there was also something else…

I don’t know how I knew this, but somehow I had the sense it wasn’t just me being “bad”. Something was wrong with school, itself. At fifteen, I had no way of articulating what it was. Now I do know what it was and what was wrong with school is still wrong with school. I only wish an adult had told me what I am about to tell you because, had I known, that understanding might have changed my behavior and, consequently, how the adults responded to my ongoing frustration.

So, I asked the class, “Have you ever heard of the word ‘Premise’?”

They looked at one another as if someone in the room would know. No one did

I continued, “A ‘premise’ is something you, or a group of people, believe is true.  If enough people believe something is true, they will make laws so that everyone has to do what the big group believes they should do. People used to believe that the sun and all the stars and planets revolved around the Earth. You could be punished if you resisted that. We don’t believe that, anymore; but lots of people believe things that aren’t true and you can be punished if you resist believing them.”

I told them the problem comes when what the group believes to be true is not true, yet only a few are willing to acknowledge it. If a person is young and, like I was, already frustrated—or his home-life has made him an angry kid—he may not be able to say what’s wrong. He just knows something is wrong and he can’t help resisting what he is being made to do. If he resists in ways that are not acceptable (his resistance may not be acceptable) he gets into trouble and is punished. He ends up in this room. In I.S.S.

I am going to tell you about three premises, or things schools believe, but which simply are not true. But, even though they aren’t true, these beliefs have become so important that you are required to do them or else the system will either force you or it will punish you. Right now, you are being punished.

So, here are the three things about school I think never have been true:

First: All kids should learn the same things. That is why you have to take two years of a foreign language, four years of science, four years of high school math…You get the picture. These subjects are not electives. Obviously, because adults are older and have some life experiences, they know some of the things kids should learn. What they don’t know is that many of the things they are forcing kids to learn just aren’t the right things for every kid. In other words, some required subjects should actually become electives instead of being required.

The entire class nodded.

Second: If a kid is a certain age, he should be in the same grade along with every other kid his age and they all should be learning what every other kid is learning in that grade. It’s just a fact that if you are younger than most of the other kids in a class, you are considered smart; if you are older than the other kids, you are considered dumb. And, you probably think of yourself as dumb, too. The very idea of putting kids of the same age in the same grade may be useful for schools; but, actually, it is harmful to human beings.

The entire class nodded.

Third: Certain subjects are more important than other subjects. You have to score well in the important ones. Math and Science are important. Music, art, and dance are not so much. It doesn’t matter to anyone if you are musical, are a dancer, or an artist—it doesn’t matter if you flourish in one of these and get all A’s—what matters is that you learn “how to graph the equation of a line written in slope-intercept form”. You have no say in this. The idea that everyone needs to learn to graph the equation of a line written in slope-intercept form is ridiculous. Most high school math teachers know this and some will even admit to it.

The entire class nodded.

At this point, one of the boys spoke up, “I was trying to help my sister who wasn’t understanding what the teacher was teaching and the teacher yelled at me. So, I yelled back at her and called her a name. I used the “f” word. She told me to get out and never come to her class again. So, I’ll be here in I.S.S. the rest of the year.”

The girl who had earlier told me her father is in prison asked, “Mr. C.D., what should we do?”

I wanted to do what the State Superintendent of Schools had asked that morning on the radio. I wanted to advocate for these students. Honestly, I didn’t know how to respond to the girl.

I told the girl that things are beginning to change at the highest levels of education. One day upper-level high school math will be an elective along with many of the other ‘required’ subjects. World-famous educators, and some regular teachers, are beginning to admit that students like yourselves are not being helped by many of the subjects you are being forced to learn. What encourages me is that we all know human beings are individuals and should not be treated as if everyone is the same or that everyone should be learning the same things everyone else is learning. Thinking grownups are beginning to wonder if, perhaps, every child is different and should be given an education that pertains to who they really are.

I reminded the class that we live in a small town and, for our community, changes in education may not come until many years in the future. It might happen for them if they could be homeschooled. But, for many homeschooled kids, no one could tell any difference in what, and how, the kids are learning. They are doing the same thing they would be doing in the public school but are just doing it at home. Only a small percentage of homeschooling parents understand that they should be looking at what the public school is doing and, then, be doing something else.

School is a “system”. Like so many other systems it holds all the cards and makes all the rules. They are only hurting themselves if they continue to struggle against a system that does not have the luxury, nor the inclination, to find out why some students hate school and then change the entire system to make it work for the trouble-makers and misfits.

I told them virtually everyone knows something is wrong with our schools and some are even willing to begin talking about it and demanding changes. But they, as students, don’t have much of a voice so they end up labeled as trouble-makers and misfits because they are frustrated and angry.

I also wanted them to know that teachers are not their enemies. Teachers have a difficult job and many teachers actually understand that what they are teaching isn’t helping young people. Teachers also have families of their own. They may be taking care of sick parents after they leave school. Teaching is a difficult and stressful job and they don’t need students calling them names.

Did any of what I said help these kids? Maybe not. Perhaps just knowing all this could help in some small way.

As I walk down the halls at the beginning of another school day, the kids greet me warmly and ask where I will be substitute teaching that day. I will probably not be in I.S.S.

The way children are educated must change. And, it will. Eventually.

To the homeschooling parents reading this post: You can be a large part of the change. I believe that is one reason God began this Movement in the first place.

In the next post: I will have some personal words for all homeschooling parents and I will also discuss The 2 Tyrannies.

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At 7:00 PM, Central Time, December 1, I will be hosting our 2nd online, interactive, homeschooling Q&A session. If you want more information on how to join us on the 1st, send me your email address now at chrisdavis@pioneerhomeschooler.com and I will let you know how. Don’t miss this time together!

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

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First, I Need to Set This Up

My last post ended with me saying I would next write about The 4 Beliefs and The 2 Tyrannies.

However, in order to make sense of what I will write, I have to set up that post with a Preface:

Many of my readers know I often substitute teach at the local high school. I enjoy the students and they seem to enjoy me. We have a good relationship for some rather obvious reasons.

The other day I was asked to substitute in the infamous class known as I.S.S.

I.S.S. stands for “In-School Suspension” and is the room the “bad” students are put because schools no longer suspend students to their homes since many students don’t have a parent at home to receive them.

After spending an entire day with these misfits, I told the secretary (whose job it is to hire substitutes), “I don’t ever need to be in that class again!”

She looked surprised. “I thought you would be the perfect one to keep them in line.”

“Not really,” I told her. “I identify too much with them. When I was their age, I would have been in I.S.S. if there had been such a place back then. I can’t be the authoritarian figure you all need me to be, so you will just have to find someone else who can.”

For several days I was troubled. I felt the Lord’s displeasure that I had not consulted Him and, so, I told Him, “If You really want me back with those kids, I will go. I will probably get fired if I do, because I think I know why You want me there, so just make it obvious and I will do it.”

Within a few days, the secretary called mid-morning telling me a teacher had a family emergency and had to leave school. Could I please come in? I said I would.

Moments later, the secretary called back.

“I know you told me you never wanted to go back into I.S.S., but if you would just this once, we really do need you.”

I took a deep breath. I was ready.

“I’m on my way” I responded.

As school had started, the I.S.S. students were already in the room when I arrived. Most of them knew me from previous classes and they greeted me warmly.

I sat down at the teacher’s desk and turned to them.

“OK, guys,” I said, “It’s time an adult finally told you what is really going on around here.”

I had their attention.

To be continued…

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At 7:00 PM, Central Time, December 1, I will be hosting our 2nd online, interactive, homeschooling Q&A session. If you want more information on how to join us on the 1st, send me your email address now at chrisdavis@pioneerhomeschooler.com and I will let you know how. Don’t miss this time together!

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

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Part 2: Why We Are Not Yet Ready to “Do Something Else”

In my previous post, I suggested it is time for homeschooling parents to take the advice of a former New York State Teacher-of-the-Year who said, “Find out what the Public School does and do something else.”

However, as I interact with today’s homeschoolers, I find they are not yet ready to do this.

In fact, homeschooling parents are actually forfeiting two critical opportunities: First, to provide their own children with the best educational experience possible; and, second, to demonstrate how all children should be educated.

Homeschoolers could slowly be changing the culture of education all over the world. Instead, it is the other way round: Homeschoolers are defaulting to imitating the world’s educational culture.

Why? Because we are afraid and fear causes us to do things that, while relieving our fears, harm our children’s futures which is exactly what public school does to its children.

Why are we afraid?

First, we believe we don’t know what we are doing. And, we are right.

Second, we believe everyone else does know what they are doing. And, we are wrong.

Not knowing what we are doing causes us to look to others to tell us what we should be doing. And, since we actually believe others know what they are doing, we do what they do.

It is not wrong to turn to someone else for help in our homeschooling journey, as long as we are looking to the right one(s). More on that in my next post.

If you have been paying even minimal attention, you would know that the public school’s way of educating children (meaning its curriculum choices and the way that curricula is taught) is under a microscope and is being largely discredited. Yet, the fear under which most homeschoolers live causes them to default to teaching the same subjects that are taught in the public schools and in the same way those subjects are taught.

Even if it takes another generation, homeschoolers eventually must be willing to do something else or we can simply add homeschooling to public schooling, private schooling, and Christian schooling as alternative means of replicating public schooling’s failed educational philosophies.

NEXT POST: 4 beliefs—and 2 tyrannies—that are hurting our kids.

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At 7:00 PM, Central Time, December 1, I will be hosting our 2nd online, interactive, homeschooling Q&A session. If you want more information on how to join us on the 1st, send me your email address now at chrisdavis@pioneerhomeschooler.com and I will let you know how. Don’t miss this time together!

You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

Seth reading on pony fixed2 resized Book cover resized for Kindle

Set Aside 1 Hour Next Tuesday Evening

Next Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM, Central Time, I will host my first Homeschool Q&A Session on the internet’s newest Interactive sharing platform https://blab.im/. If you want to join me (and 2 other long-time homeschooling moms who will be ready to respond to your questions re: homeschooling), go to Blab.im and enter my name (Chris Davis) in the “Search for Blab” link at the top, left of the page and register. You will need a Twitter account (temporary is just fine) to ask questions and comment. Join us next Tuesday and PLEASE SHARE this post so everyone will know to join us for this time of fun and information.

See you all next Tuesday, November 3 at 7:00PM Central Time.

Are We Ready to Do Something Else?

Part 1: The Emperor really is naked.

The homeschooling movement was a great beginning. It was supposed to be an alternative form of child-rearing and education.

And, it was. In its beginning. Then it lapsed into the public-school-at-home mentality of many of today’s homeschooling parents.

I have been waiting my entire adult life for those “in the know” to finally step forward and admit that the world’s educational systems are actually hurting children.

That is one reason I so appreciated John Taylor Gatto’s writings. When a New York State Teacher-of-the Year tells you, “Find out what the public school does and do something else,” the ears of every homeschooling parent should perk up and parents should want to know more.

For years, John has seemed to be “a voice crying in the wilderness” for all but a few.

Until now…

Now, more and more internationally recognized educators are beginning to step onto the stage with stinging denunciations of what public schools are doing to kids. An example are the TED Talks by someone of no less stature than Sir Ken Robinson, Professor Emeritus of Education at England’s University of Warwick whose TED Talks have been viewed by over 34 million people.

Something of real significance is happening in educational circles when the most watched TED Talks ever are on the subject of education! If you haven’t yet watched them, where have you been? As homeschooling parents, these two talks by Dr. Robinson are important enough for you to spend a few minutes of your time: Do Schools Kill Creativity? and Education’s Death Valley

Another thing I have been waiting to hear is an honest response to the question of why high schoolers are forced to spend four years studying upper-level math. Of course math is helpful, even essential; but, four years of high school math! I am convinced that one day high school math will become the elective it should be for those who actually love the subject and want to become engineers or architects?

Aside from the fact that high school math harms many a young person’s self-esteem, we all intuitively know that most people will never use what they are being forced to learn (assuming they are learning it).

May I introduce a middle & high school math teacher whose TED Talk is stirring up a controversy I believe needs to be stirred up? His short talk suggests that high school math is not only not necessary, it is harmful to most students. He says, “At the end of Elementary School you have learned all the math you will need to know in real life so what the heck are we learning all this Middle & High School math stuff for?” He even offers alternatives for those who are not “math-minded” and who are not headed for a career that actually needs upper-level math. Here is his TED Talk:  Why Math Instruction Is Unnecessary

Next Post: Part 2 “Why homeschooling parents aren’t yet ready to Do Something Else (in spite of the overwhelming evidence that Doing Something Else is long overdue…)”

Feel free to forward this blog to anyone you think might be interested. You may also receive my future blogs by signing up on this page.

IMPORTANT NOTE: At 7:00 PM, Central Time, November 3, I will be hosting the first in a series of online, interactive, homeschooling Q&A sessions. If you want more information on how to join us on the 3rd, send me your email address now at chrisdavis@pioneerhomeschooler.com and I will let you know how. Don’t miss this time together!
You can purchase a copy of my newest book, Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally. Just click on the title and you will be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. If you would like a free copy of Chapter 1 of the book, go to the site where I have listed my favorite homeschooling materials and you may download the chapter for free. Go to: Chris Davis Recommends (also on Facebook).

For 14 years, I have taken homeschooling families to tour biblical Israel. Check out my travel site at Experiencing Israel (also on Facebook)

Seth reading on pony fixed2 resized Book cover resized for Kindle