Education is More Than School Because I Think So! — the Most Important Lesson Whatever We Call It

9 05 2007

Do you know parents struggling to balance education and schooling because their own children for whatever reasons, are cobbling together their learning environments between the two? Maybe you ARE one of those parents? Unschooled Favorite Daughter takes public college courses on campus now, but that’s nothing compared to the high-wire act some families perform in multiple show circus rings.

For just one example, I have a good friend IRL I hadn’t seen in years, until Monday. Her life has changed dramatically in the ten years I’ve known her. When first we met, she was a happy, secure, homeschooling SAHM with two beautiful and smart little girls, wanting to start their own home-education Brownie troop. We spent a lot of time together because Favorite Daughter was the same scouting-curious age, and as moms we had values in common, including independent thinking and libertarian leanings.

FavD and I soon lost interest in scouting but my friend continued as troop leader, field trip organizer and general supporter of other families learning without school. She added two little boys to her brood, and the last time I saw her in person was at the fire house field trip, with her fourth child in a big sling, not slowed one bit. The oldest was a joy in pigtails, helping not just her mom but all the smaller kids on the tour.
From that time to this, this settled and happy mom faced a difficult divorce and the need to find a family-sustaining career for herself, which meant getting different kinds of educational “support” than we typically dwell on in independent unschooling circles — child care and legal advice and putting the older kids in public school after custody challenges and even “going back to school” herself. I know there were times she agonized about her kids, but not whether they mastered the state learning standards and passed algebra — it was what they were learning about life!

Then day before yesterday, we ran into each other while I was out helping FavD buy some supplies for her parttime job.

My friend looked GREAT, with a kicky new haircut, all bright-eyed again and she had her older son with her, now maybe eight-years-old, and a very handsome adult male companion! Because she had her son out shopping at noon on a schoolday, I figure she is straddling that school-unschool divide within her own family. She mentioned her new career with a national business-education scholarship program and she fairly glowed, like the young mom I remember her to be from the Brownie troop days, with the world by the tail, learning and growing alongside (not in power over) her kids, whatever the “legal” details. She’s still figuring it out for herself, and doing it rather well, from all appearances.

I gave her Snook’s URL and she punched it right into her Blackberry. (*I* don’t have a Blackberry!)
She looked genuinely interested, so I think we’ll see her here soon.

Here’s my question: given this power of story path uniquely her own, with different family members including herself, learning and growing in all sorts of different ways all at the same time, what should I call her?

I choose Thinking Parent.
So I dug this post out for her and so many thinking, learning, hard-working moms we all know like her. Read at the links, know that “you are, because you think!” . . .and the rest will take care of itself, one way and another, no matter what anyone else thinks. 🙂

Institutional schooling has taught our fellow citizens so much about duty and failure and tedium, conforming their own internal life to external demands, that most inevitably become workaday parents and teachers (and voters and politicians) who simply follow and enforce and further entrench society’s rules and restrictions, rather than rethinking them. They pass all this on in turn. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be . . .and they soldier on.

How controlling and conservative, how hidebound, what a monstrous millstone for progressives to drag behind ANY political bandwagon. Maybe that isn’t entirely School’s “fault” but public education could do much better at preparing the next generation to be Thinking Citizens. Imagine what a culture that could be, and what kind of politicians would thrive in it, rather than what we know now.

There’s even an educators’ argument coalescing around the idea that education IS democratic engagement”.

No one — not student, teacher or parent –is excited or inspired (or educated) by standardized, Bowdlerized textbook and workbook pabulum, or a student’s dutiful five-paragraph essay, any more than politics or culture can progress via poll-tested stump soundbites and dime-a-dozen American Idol warbler wannabes.

And fighting the last war instead of the next one, well, we’ve seen what disasters follow.

Message discipline is for mindless troops under orders, led by those with absolute faith in their own “right” answers. To me that fits the bones of (conservative) school and church, the military, industrial quality control and factory production. Not the supporting structures of (liberal) education and innovation, R&D, creative design, risk-taking, and social progress built on the pooled but undiluted, uncompromised wisdom of a multitude of diverse individuals.



One response

8 11 2010
Homeschooling D-I-V-O-R-C-E With Children « Cocking A Snook!

[…] See “Blurring Family Value lines Might Benefit Us All” and The Most Important Lesson Whatever We Call It”. […]

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