Thoughts on homeschooling

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I’m reading a book called Homeschooling:  A Family’s Journey by Gregory and Martine Millman.  They have six children and decided to homeschool out of a lack of good education being offered in their lower income neighborhood.  Initially they put their first three children in school but after various incidences in which they found themselves questioning the school’s motives and methods (and basically being told by the school, this is how it is, deal with it), they decided to try their hands at homeschooling as it seemed the only possible alternative.  Their book is a non-secular look at the benefits of homeschooling and what it can offer as a way of tailoring your children’s education to their specific needs according to their learning styles, their interests, and their pace.  These are some of the questions they are asking:  “How many people stop to think about what the school is doing, or why?  Who considers the purpose of the school curriculum:  What is it?  Is the school’s purpose your purpose too?  How does the school measure success?  Is that how you measure success?  Few people seem to ask such questions.”

In the book’s chapter titled Context of the Person, they start off by saying “Our educational goal is to equip our children for the free pursuit of truth through virtue.”  I just love that.  Then later on the page they say:  ‘Education, real education, must take place in the context of a personal relationship.  This relationship between persons becomes the foundation for another kind of relationship, the relationship of the student with the process of learning, with a tradition of learning, and with other persons who reach and may be reached through that process and tradition.  These relationships shape the student.  They help the student develop, through emulation, the personal characteristics of attention and imagination and diligence and dedication that are necessary to discern, to relate to, and, eventually, to teach others the way of learning.”

Towards the end of that chapter he talks about his oldest children coming home from college for Christmas break and a conversation they have about the many different kinds of mushrooms the girls noticed around the college campus.  This may seem like an odd thing for me to take note of, but what I find interesting is that they even knew to look for different kinds of mushrooms in a natural setting and that they were interested in it in the first place.  Of course, this was part of their homeschooling, something they did as a family together, but my point is that there is a lot to be learned from one’s family in the course of a day, a week, a month, or a year.  This particular tradition in their family was a teachable moment in which they educated their children about mushrooms.  No matter what our unique family tradition, whether or not we “homeschool”, we can all benefit by delving more deeply into our everyday and giving our children the opportunity to learn from us, our surroundings, and the simple things that happen in a day (yesterday Iliana was completely intrigued by the garbage truck, so for at least 5 minutes we stood and just watched).  This is real teaching and really, I think, our job as parents.

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