CHANGING THE EMPHASIS
[This is Part 7 of the Article, “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]
I ended my last entry by saying…
If I could do it all over again, I would not call ourselves “homeschoolers.” I have actually come to dislike the term because I think it creates significant internal problems for the family. If I were starting over again, when the lady at the store asked, “You boys aren’t in school today?” I would have taught the boys to say, simply, “No ma’am,” and let it go at that.
If you are homeschooling and your emphasis is on the school part of home-schooling, it is my guess that your homeschooling is driven by an ongoing feeling of insecurity; perhaps even fear.
Over the years I have noticed a real distinction between children who are home and those who are schooled-at-home. The difference between the two is one of emphasis.
How can you tell if your child is being schooled at home?
The most obvious way you can tell is if you believe that public schools actually know what they are doing. This is important because to accept that any part of the public school model is correct will cause you to mimic what they do.
What do public schools do? They faithfully follow their paradigm of what it means to educate a child and how that task should be accomplished. Read the list, below, and see how much of it you believe in. You can easily tell what you believe by how much your homeschool tracks with the following public school model:
- The emphasis is mainly on learning information. More time is spent learning information than learning all other forms of knowledge: reason, wisdom, judgment, relationships, practical skills, what the child wants to know, etc. How much of your child’s time is spent learning information, especially information he could easily find if he actually needed (or wanted) to know it?
- There is an agree-upon amount of information a child needs to know in order to be considered “educated”. In educational terms, this is called “The Scope” (of information).
- Because the amount of information needed for a child to be considered “educated” is so large, the Scope is separated into common Subjects. Then each Subject is arranged from its simplest form to its most complex. In educational terms, this is called “The Sequence”. Every school (and textbook) displays a “Scope & Sequence” Chart showing the progression through which the child will move as he learns each Subject.
- The name given to each Sequence is “grade”. A child is commonly assigned the sequence level (grade level) in which are other children his same age.
- Testing determines if the child has learned enough of the information to continue to the next sequence, or grade.
- Children are provided with letters so they will know how well, or poorly, they scored on tests (how much of the information they remember and can retrieve).
- It takes the average person most of his childhood to accomplish the task of becoming educated at the basic level—usually about 12 years, or approximately 15,000 hours.
- Children should learn information simply because it is supposed to be learned. The information does not need to have any personal value to the child nor does the information need to be taught in a way that demonstrates that it has (or will have) practical value to the child, either currently, or in the future.
- A room devoted exclusively (or almost exclusively) to learning helps the child become educated.
- The use of grade-level curricula—that can be used by all children in the same sequence (grade)—is the most efficient way to school children.
- Everyone understands that education is a competitive undertaking. Students compete with one another for their personal evaluation. There are winners and losers. Failure is to be avoided and just about any means one needs to employ to avoid a negative evaluation is worth considering.
- An individual’s evaluation depends on his own, individual, effort. Cooperative effort is called “cheating” and is punished.
If you were institutionally schooled, you may have internalized some, if not all, of the above.
In the next installment, I will offer some alternative emphases that might be considered as we raise our children in our own homes