What did I learn?
Well not exactly what did I learn, but what did I learn that I think is useful?
Well one thing I learned is that daydreaming and being quiet and thinking, is not bad. Even though I got in trouble for it in elementary school. I would look out the window and I would imagine anything else other than what was being taught in the classroom.
Maybe that is why I wanted to home-school my kids when they were little so I could make sure that what they were learning, was memorable to them.
Because the most memorable things I learned, thinking back as an adult, are things that my parents wanted me to learn. There is not much else that is memorable that I can recall from classroom learning. In fact I have nightmares sometimes about classrooms and school.
Maybe it is because in classroom learning, kids are judged based on test scores, when at home, I was judged based on spiritual values I was embodying. My parents were mostly interested in my ability to know right and wrong than they were in my ability to do math or spelling. Both my parents wanted to teach my four sisters and I, leadership skills, and good decision making skills… to know how to stay on the right path.
I can clearly remember writing poems and telling stories growing up that my parents cherished and celebrated, telling me I had a fabulous imagination. This encouragement motivated me where as, punishment for poor test grades, did not help me be more interested in the classroom curriculum.
At school, when I did a science project, I did it on birds, not because I was interested in the science of birds and flight, but because I wanted to try to draw and paint a blue jay in the midst of landing on the backboard. I liked the creative aspect of life and loved art.
It makes me sad to think of kids losing time with their parents in order to “learn” things at school that do not really matter to them. When a child's interests drive the topics chosen, the child will excel. And I was always interested in the things my parents were interested in because they communicated their ideas and dreams with me, growing up. My favorite time was family dinner at our oval wooden table where my dad would always make us laugh and my mom would always fix a great meal.
If I could go back in time and trade hours that I spent at school as a child, to hours at home with my parents, I would trade school for parents in a heartbeat, even if I did not graduate from high school as a result.
I do not think parents realize how impactual and meaningful their “wisdom” and “education” is with regards to their own kids and how it is the most individualized and effective learning that kids can get. I read somewhere that even a parent with no training, is capable of teaching their children all they need to know to go to high school.
My sister home-schooled all six of her children. My daughter is homeschooling her two children. They both did nature groups, library trips, sports groups and music. The two girls are about to be featured in a nutcracker Christmas ballet.
Because a home school teacher is able to be more efficient with less time spent on “crowd control”, the children have more time to read books, play with their toys, and be outside. Is it more work to school one’s own children at home, or more work to counteract the boredom, apathy, and lack of progress that eventually happens to most kids in the classroom structure. I do not know but I just know which one I would prefer if it had been up to me, when I was a child.
The thing I know now, as I look back, is that the memorable things I learned that matter most to me, came from people that I know loved me and treated me like they loved me. Those people and their opinions, and interests, are the ones I spend time getting to know and often adopting as my own.
These things I learned are mostly concepts that I have been able to use, through practice, to improve my life. Concepts like asking questions and determining who is the actual authority on different subjects… or things like integrity and honor and patriotism. I learned how to navigate marriage from my parents, and how to inspire children. All important skills that are not taught in classrooms.
Understanding that knowledge of good and evil is not necessary because of the story of Adam and Eve in the bible is the most nebulous concept that I have learned that I am now convinced is fundamental to my life of learning. And learning that God speaks to us daily the good news, with bible verses that we can randomly choose, to get guidance when there is no clear road to freedom of expression, has been radically important to me.
I learned that love is the solution to most problems. When we love others, we are willing to be of service to them. We want what is best for them which means we want to simplify learning to that which is meaningful for the individual person or child. Each person is different and their education should encompass that fact and because classrooms are structured by age and not by interests or personality, classroom learning is not really being taught to the individual.
When a person is hurt, we teach compassion by being compassionate towards them. When someone is confused, we teach them how to clarify meaning by asking questions ourselves, without judgement or condemnation. When someone is not interested in something, we respect their boundaries the same way we want our own boundaries to be respected when we are not interested in something. Or we creatively find a way to engage them, if what we want them to know will be of great benefit to them.
The activities that children choose to engage in, are products of their individual interests, and as these interests are diversified and perceived by parents, they can be enhanced and developed for the benefit of the child's unique personality and ability.
The parents are much more in tune with the individual nature of their children. It is a privilege to be able to have such an important role with children…but my friend who runs the after school care, said that even after children have spent all day in school, the parents still avoid picking up their kids until the very last minute of the additional three hours of day care. So the kids are only home basically to eat dinner and go to bed. Sad.
Regarding testing, the only test I remember taking that is meaningful to me is when my dad challenged me to train for a marathon, and also when he challenged me to write three pages every day. Oh and I remember there was one test in grade school, where a person had to predict how boxes would look if all the dotted and dashed lines were folded and in that progressively intricate conceptualized test, I performed extremely well and got an air-force commendation for my high score. (loved the commendation)
And I remember my mom encouraging me to paint on canvas, and take photos, because she said I was artistically skilled and would get better and better.
My mom today is still here encouraging me and supporting me and in conclusion I have decided that what happened in the classroom had very little impact on my life as a whole, compared to the impact that has come from my parents and siblings and most of all God.
That is what I have learned.