I want it made clear that I do not have any animosity toward individual teachers, students, or parents for their participation in a tax-supported education system. I think the large majority are good people simply doing the best they can for their families. I applaud them and their well-intentioned efforts. I do, however, take issue with some of the philosophies behind our present education system and the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle), negative effects it has on our children's academic, political, social, and spiritual development. I also take issue with the very small but influential minority who seem to be deliberately abusing the system in order to further their own political agendas.
Although there are many ways to combat the difficulties regarding the system, our family has chosen to home school. I, myself, had many reservations against homeschooling as a viable option at first. After researching it more, however, I have come to realize that all my concerns were really just “pseudo cons.”
Here is what I’ve learned:
Socialization—if the purpose of socialization is to increase the likelihood of having strong, good relationships in every area of life, then what is the best way to socialize a child: immerse them with people they must learn to get along with regardless of differences (the family) and also with people of various ages and experiences (throughout the community); or put them in the same building all day long with children their same age, from the same zipcode, who are all simultaneously trying to figure out who they are?
Over-Sheltering—In starting tomato plants, it’s important to turn give the plant ample time to grow strong indoors before planting outside in the rain, wind, and hail. Home schoolers, in general, do not intend to hide their children from the world forever. They simply try to give their children a solid foundation before turning them out to the world. Is this over sheltering?
Mom’s issues—Although no mom feels adequate teaching her children every subject, and perhaps wants more freedom to pursue her own interests rather than being responsible for her children’s education, I take comfort in the fact that home schooled children behave differently and that they are largely more independent than their publically schooled peers. Thus, although it certainly isn't a picnic, it’s much more doable than a worried mother might think. Many testify of the unexpected joys they experience and wouldn't trade their extra family time for the world.
Retreating Robs World of Good Influence—This fascinating LDS History should concern all members of my church and was the main reason I began to take home schooling seriously. Promises from prophets tell us that the blessings of controlling our children’s education will increase the chances of them being strong, life-long influences for good.
Close-mindedness—teaching strict adherence to moral laws will have far greater likelihood of producing happiness, peace, and tolerance than any other philosophy pushed by public schools.
BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
That said, as I’ve continued to ponder the subject of education—real education and not just schooling—the more I see the bottom line is Freedom to Choose.
- We currently have a system of compulsory schooling (not what the Founding Fathers intended)
- Children have very little choice in what subject they will study or how long they will study it.
- Because children are told what, when, and how to learn, the unintended result makes a god out of getting “As” rather than genuine knowledge.
- This creates children who have very little experience choosing for themselves what knowledge is important or relevant to them and why.
So what about college?
After 12 years of being compelled to follow another’s standard for knowledge, is it any wonder the average number of times a college student (free at last to choose anything he or she wants) changes his or her major several times? And then goes on to change careers several times more? Because our system worships “college degrees,” is it any surprise that many degrees, while perhaps interesting, lead to nowhere?
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that a college degree is practical and necessary for success in many fields. But I also believe it is the actual knowledge and the measurable results that come from such knowledge that need to be commended, not just the degree.
- In order to really value the knowledge, children must attend college because they have chosen to and because they have a clear goal of what knowledge they want, why they want it, and how they plan to use it.
- The greatest way for children to go to college with a clear goal in mind is to give them practice directing their own education early on in life.
- The more we practice using our freedom, the more we will use it wisely, value it, and defend it.
I support the cause of freedom in every aspect: political, religious, and academic.
Without freedom, knowledge means little. Without knowledge, freedom benefits us little.
I hope to give my children knowledge about their choices and choices about their knowledge so they can better defend the freedoms we enjoy—freedoms that are quickly disappearing.
2011Res: To Matt: I love that we are getting better at communicating--you are being so respectful and fun to work with during this house-hunting process! To my girls: today I savored your smell. It reminds me what wonderful little individual people you are. Dear Mr H: today I will make you a special dinner because I love you.