My son and I went for a walk tonight and he told me one of his schooled friends asked if he had ever done a math worksheet. My son told him no, why would I need to do that? I do math in my life all the time, but I don’t need to prove that, by doing a worksheet. We talked about all the ways he learns math concepts even though we do not call them “math.”
We talked about how if he needs to learn something, he can find the answer when he needs it. We questioned who gets to decide exactly what a human being “needs” to learn by the time they are 18? We wondered how people can get together in a meeting to decide what is best for every student that comes to their school. How is it possible to do this if we are all individuals having different interests and different learning styles? I know that teachers and administrators do their best. Teachers have their hands tied, because the students must test high so that the schools get their funding. Teachers have a difficult job.
Another one of my son’s schooled friends said that he was held back, so he will start the same grade again this year. We questioned how this can be determined. My son wondered what message his friend got when his classmates moved on, but he didn’t. Who decides he didn’t learn the “right” things? Why do they get to decide for him? What if for every one answer he got wrong, there were hundreds of others that he knew? Unfortunately for him, those weren’t the answers that he was “supposed” to know? Maybe his passions and interests are in something his school doesn’t offer, or are seen as unimportant. Does this mean he is “slow” or that he isn’t “smart,” just because he is more interested in other things? Maybe he is daydreaming about his passions while he “should” be learning some other subject. Why is this wrong?
We questioned why each person can’t follow their passions, and learn everything they need to know about that passion. Why can’t a person who learns better while moving around do just that? Why would we want them to conform to the way “everyone” else is learning? Why would we label them with a learning disability or label them as hyperactive just because their bodies are telling them that they need to move? What is the impact on a child’s self esteem when they are coerced into being something they’re not? Does it make them successful if they learn how to take a test in order to get a “good grade”? Or, does it make them lose a part of their aliveness because they had to conform to fit someone else’s idea of what it looks like to be a good student. Is it worth it to do this to our children?
I feel sad for the kids who are feeling apprehensive, angry, and a bit helpless about going back to school. It didn’t take much for me to conjure up the feeling of having to go back after summer break. I could see myself lying in bed, not being able to fall asleep, worried about the next day. I quickly came back to the moment when my son saw a shooting star, and got very excited. That led us into talking all about planets, and about what a shooting star is, and what a comet is. I didn’t have all of the answers, but I knew we could go home to look them up. Living and learning from the real world makes me smile. I will continue to question everything, and I hope that my kids will as well.
If you want to read some good books about school and children’s learning, I recommend any of John Holt’s books, especially How Children Learn , How Children Fail, and Learning All The Time. Also, John Taylor Gatto’s (who was an award winning teacher) book called Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling.
I write about personal growth and healing, meditation, mindful living, and unschooling at my website www.benurtured.com.
Ode, the magazine for Intelligent Optimists, is an international independent journal that publishes positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better. Click here for your FREE issue.
What great questions, Megan!
I call this form of education, Project-Centered Education. Individual self-development is the central theme. By employing this strategy, individuals put themselves in the driver’s seat of their own lives. When we decide to personally choose the qualities of being and creation we value most, our ideals, and actualize them to the best of their ability, we choose to live by value fulfillment and practice idealism. By responding to our own natural passion, we become who we love to be and do what we love to do. We find our way back to wholeness and love.
What kind of world can we create if we all follow our own bliss and live project-centered lives together? What will work best for ALL of us, in personal terms, and in terms of business, education, the environment and peace? We are the change we’re waiting for. We are our own salvation. What can be more exciting, or worth doing, than changing ourselves, and the world, for the better?
Pete – https://realtalkworld.com/