Paula Cleary posted this impassioned look at homeschool education on a local forum - and has kindly given me permission to copy it here.
Education Myths by Paula Cleary
Taking the leap into homeschooling is such a mind-expanding journey...... you start off thinking about everything in terms of school-type learning, and then along the way start to realise (I did anyway) that maybe that model of learning has a lot more wrong with it than you first thought?
I have always thought myself to be very open-minded, but when we first started our homeschool education, I didn't realise that it was ok to throw away the rulebook that applies to school - that just seemed ....wreckless!....dangerous!......hippy mish-mash! There are so many starting points in how we think about education nowadays which I was starting to realise were the staples of peoples perceived opinions on education:
1. Children's minds are empty vessels.
Only trained, 'expert' teachers on different subjects can spoon-feed this knowledge to children. In this model of education the children are passive learners and assumed (presumably) to be rather stupid. It's the adults who know all the answers!
Well.......... contrary to popular opinion......... I don't believe in this one little bit. Children are born with a hunger to understand and make sense of the world around them. To make them into passive learners some of that natural curiosity must surely be squashed? There's not enough time to answer every interesting and valid and random question each child may have in the classroom, so instead of starting with what the children are actually interested in.......what does the teacher do? Silence all those voices of inquiry because "we haven't got time for that now" or "we aren't learning about that today" or "we talked about that a couple of weeks ago when you were off sick and we haven't time to go back to that now....." The conveyor belt of the teachers pre-organised lesson plan for that day, week, or year, ticking off all the curriculum boxes is more important than whether each child's question was explored. Each time a child's curiosity is squashed it's like a little light being snuffed. Eventually, children stop asking questions, learn to tow the line, and then switch off, whilst pretending not to have!
I believe children are fantastic learners and are very capable of learning all sorts, sometimes even more so without the interference of well meaning adults who are always trying to 'teach' them something! We panic that we must fill their every waking hour with little lessons of one kind or another, or else they are not really learning. They also make excellent teachers because they can share what they know with others easily and naturally. Older brothers and sisters are much better at teaching certain things to their younger siblings because they really know their stuff. Often adults only pretend to!
Oh my goodness! I am a home schooling mum of 4 and I have NEVER found a better site! Thank you so much.
Blessings, Jenny (New Zealand)
I wanted to say THANK YOU for your fabulous website. I found your website, and finally I have the confidence to take the plunge and take my daughter out of school and educate her at home, thank you, thank you. Marina (UK)
I cannot get over how much great information and super ideas you have here. Fantastic! Ruralmama (USA)
This is simply fabulous!! I just now found this site and I'm so excited!! The opportunities and suggestions as well as the need to inspire are exactly what I have been searching to fulfill!! I'm so thrilled to get started and even more excited to continue to explore all of the fabulous suggestions and creative ideas you have offered here!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Jennifer (USA)