I recently read an article after seeing it popping up everywhere on FB. It’s titled “School is a prison-and damaging our kids” by Peter Gray. This title isn’t the best, it puts people (more accurately those who went to school, have children in school, or work in the school system) on the defensive. But the article does a good job expressing why school isn’t all that great for actual learning. The author has researched further into the science of child development and natural learning. The article outlines many of the reasons we decided to continue to homeschool our children. In part it introduces the growing evidence that children do not learn best in the artificial and often stagnant environment of school.
We also have come to the conclusion that a school, nor a school at home, approach is the best way to educate our kids nor does it lead to the kind of accomplishment we wish for our kids. While many find pride in their kids growing up to get a job that pays extremely well or comes with a certain amount of status, this is not what we see as successful. To us, success means a true inner happiness. We model this search for true inner happiness and believe it comes from within. We’ve found that what aids us in finding our happiness is strong supportive relationships (which we provide our kids from the beginning), a desire for expanding oneself (in the form of learning and spiritual growth), following our passions (which can easily lead to careers if their creativity and ambition is not squashed), and taking responsibility for emotional well-being.
While we do wish to impart certain beliefs on our kids we also want them growing up with the freedom to explore many schools of thought, philosophies, and religions. However we also wish to keep our kids sheltered from a school system that can be too heavy an influence on both WHAT kids grow up thinking and the WAY they think. We desire a future (and a present) for our kids that is not so heavily influenced by the mainstream. We don’t want our kids to be part of system run by the government who continues to push agendas that normalizes the taking away our freedoms and right. We don’t want our kids to be forced to spend most their childhood in a false environment and social structure that can’t provide an intrinsically rewarding learning experience. At home we can instill a love for learning, give individual attention, and cater to each their learning styles and personal passions and goals.
The article also talks about democratic schools based on the Sudbury Valley School. This is a fantastic option and is similar to what we want as a homeschooling family both in our home and through the relationships with other homeschool families.
We realize that our children will have to function in an America that is not brought up with these ideals. However we don’t want them to give into what has become common. We don’t completely shelter them from the rest of the world. We do however provide a strong foundation of support, the freedom to explore themselves as individuals, and the tools for critical thinking so that they can function in the world without blindly and thoughtlessly succumbing to forces that could hinder their happiness.