If you are my friend on goodreads, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been adding a lot of books about education, schools, and homeschooling onto my currently reading and to-read books. And if you aren’t, then, let me just sum it by saying that I am heavily leaning towards homeschooling my children, though I still have two years (or more) to officially decide. And so, I have decided to write about my thoughts in regards to whether or not to homeschool, and how we are coming to that decision.
All of my reading has led me to understand how (overall) bad for society at large public, compulsory schools are. Through my reading of various books (check out A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling and Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better – my affiliate links), I have come to realize what I always kind of knew – schools aren’t doing a great job of educating and rearing children. Even more than that, understanding the roots and purposes of compulsory public schools, really clicks into my understanding of life and the last days.
But, I bet you are wondering how I can feel this way when I, myself, went to public schools for thirteen years? When I was a 4.0 student? When I went to and graduated college? When I had lots of friends and did many fun and awesome things in public schools?
Because I never analyzed my education until I was looking at it from the outside. I never questioned the intuition of schools while I was in them. Everyone went to school. And everyone has to go to college to get a great, high-paying job. If you don’t, you’ll be less than others, just a poor and stupid person. That’s what I learned in schools. That’s what I believed. And, like I said, I was a good student. But, that’s just it; I learned how to play the school game, and I learned it well. I quickly learned how to cram in knowledge for tests, what strategies to employ on multiple choice tests to increase my odds of scoring well, and what answers to give based upon what the teachers’ wanted. I jumped through their hoops. I behaved well in class. I actually studied even. But, after those tests were over, most of the information I had just crammed into my head was gone. Because, I didn’t need to know it in my real life, you know my life outside of school.
What I learned doesn’t really seem very important, especially in regards to making me into someone who has much to offer the world that is different from anyone else. Schools are set up to make us take orders, obey our superiors, and be “happy” doing what we are told. They kill our creativity and ingenuity, because those qualities are generally not needed much at all in public schools. Why do more work than is actually needed? I learned that in school too.
So, I am thankful that despite excelling in school and all things school-related, I was still able to grow up into an adult who is able to work hard, have great self-esteem, get along with many different people, ask and seek for real answers, and be somewhat creative: aka I didn’t grow up to become a blank, unquestioning mechanical machine who just goes with the flow, never grows up, and doesn’t add anything to society. And after reading some of these books, I feel like these factors contributed to my success of breaking out of the school “mold”:
1. My parents are (still) married. Even though their marriage wasn’t always on the most solid foundation, and my father was gone most of the time I was growing up, they were married, and we were all a big, crazy family, together.
2. I had a huge family. I am the youngest of nine children. And I loved being part of a large family. In many ways it opened up my horizons to things outside of my peer group. I played with my siblings’ friends and with neighborhood kids, kids of various ages and backgrounds. I had the experience of spending time then with adults that were close to me in the form of my adult siblings and their wives and families. My siblings also encouraged me to try new things and go new places. They even often helped me with my homework.
|A small sampling of my large family|
3. I had a job at an early age. My family was poor and, therefore, if I wanted something, I had to save for it and buy it myself. In my family, most of us worked. In fact, we passed down a paper route from sibling to sibling. I often helped my siblings with their routes before I was old enough to have my own (which was at the age of 12). And once the routes became mine at 12, I did it myself, including collecting from some of my customers. That meant I had to call or knock on their doors and ask for money from them, which was a bit intimidating. I then worked all throughout high school, in fast food and retail.
When you work a real job, outside of school, you learn how to work with people of different ages, backgrounds, and income levels. You are also responsible to others for your work, but also to yourself. You have to show up on time, or risk losing your job. You have to learn how to plan your schedule, how to do the demands of the job, and how to succeed at it, hoping to earn a raise.
4. My parents didn’t hound me about my schoolwork. In fact, my parents almost never even asked if I had homework, never went to parent-teacher conference, or volunteered at the schools. And I liked it that way, mostly. It helped keep my school life separate from my real life. That allowed me to enjoy both fully.
5. My parents didn’t force me to do any clubs, sports, or extra curricular activities. In fact, my involvement in all such things were because I wanted to do them. I decided to play the French horn and be in band while in the 5th grade. I decided to do choir or not do choir. I decided to work outside of school (though it was strongly encouraged). I decided to take piano lessons. I decided to join the marching band, Yearbook, National Honor Society, Students Working As Teachers, basketball, volleyball, track, soccer, and all other activities. I even chose my own course load. My parents gave me the room I needed to be independent and to own up to my own choices and decisions. And I loved that. I didn’t love other things they did or didn’t do, but I like that they seemed to trust me.
6. I went to church religiously. I had friends and obligations outside of the school and my family. I helped plan activities. I went to girls’ camp, youth conferences, dances, food pantries, nursing homes, and weekly activities. It was at church I learned about truth, the Spirit, prayer, values, integrity, faith, divine nature, morality, modesty, and other good things. I took my Faith seriously at a very young age.
And at my church we are encouraged to ask questions. We are encouraged to seek out answers and to pray to know if things are right, true. We are encouraged to pray to be inspired, to do well on exams, to learn new material. We are encouraged to ever keep growing and bettering ourselves. It is at church I learned that we are all children of God and as such deserve to be treated with love and kindness and respect.
It was also at church that I learned how important knowledge is. We are encouraged to seek out of the best books words of wisdom, and to seek learning by and study and also by faith (D&C 109:7). We’re also told that knowledge is the only thing we take with us once we die – not wealth, not titles, not our homes, not our clothes or anything material – just our knowledge (D&C 130:18-19). So, we should make sure we are seeking out things of eternal natures, things that are true, meaningful, and of real importance.
7. I was neither popular nor an outcast. I somehow lucked out in being relatively average in terms of popularity. I always seemed to have at least one best friend each year of school. And I never suffered from bullying, name calling, or harassment. Though smart, I wasn’t a true brainiac. Though a band geek, I owned it and accepted it (and most of my friends were also in band/music). Though tall, I wasn’t super tall. Though athletic, I wasn’t a jock (I stopped doing sports once I got to high school). Though dressed, I didn’t have name-brand clothes by any means and never cared about labels. Though the only Mormon in my grade in my large high school, I defended my faith and had great discussion on religion. Essentially, I owned up to who I was, what I believed, and my values, identifying as my own person, not to a certain group.
Anyways, now you all know a ton more about me and a little more about how I grew up and was raised. And maybe this post doesn’t make a ton of sense to you in regards to homeschooling or even public schooling. And that’s okay. I’m still trying to make sense of it all myself. I plan on continuing to talk about my thoughts in regards to homeschooling in future posts. Aren’t you excited?