Social networks are ablaze with conversation revolving around “Common Core Curriculum” especially since testing took place yesterday. My goal is not to negotiate the pros and cons of the newest canned educational format but rather to talk about parents following their instincts. Admittedly I may slip and give an example or two dealing with the cons from my perspective if only to make a point.
I think that it is obviously very important to gather as much information as humanly possible in regards to subjects that have a direct impact on your life or the lives of those you care about. With that said I tend to be a person who allows my instincts to merge with knowledge and in turn set the pace for decision making. I am an elected official (please don’t hold that against me). After taking into account the “facts” I attempt to blend my decision with what my gut is telling me to do. I am a passionate gardener. When working in the dirt I allow instinct to direct my decision making. The point being it is a voice that speaks not only to me but to all of us if only we are willing to listen.
Now when you take that into consideration and you read direct comments from parents, teachers, school board members and state level officials who express great reserve over common core you begin to question why so few of them look toward legitimate alternatives. People , as we all know, get very touchy when you address their politics or their religion. Since education in some unique fashion actually serves both of those notions it is no wonder folks get so bent out of shape when it is discussed. It has now become bad etiquette to bring up education with guest at the dinner table.
So I tread lightly. Knowing most people already have their guard up. But I feel it is important to tell parents, trust your instincts. If you feel there is something wrong with public education, maybe there is. This does not mean there is something wrong with teachers but rather the system they are being swept up in just like the students. I will use my local school district as an example (told you I would slip up and give you one). My local school does not teach social studies or science to early elementary aged children. This is done to focus on math and language in preparation for the test that will occur. That is startling and concerning to say the least. We all know the statistics in relation to the U.S. when compared to the global community. That is the sort of thing that should bother parents and it does. But just as important is the reality that school is not a place of interest and learning but instead seems to foster a number of unhealthy physical and mental responses to the institution and its core curriculum. How many of you know a parent who has commented on the horrible stomach aches or anxiety their young child is experiencing attempting to prep for exams? It is creating a culture in which we are signaling to our youth it acceptable for you to feel that way and if you do simply take medication to alleviate it. I suppose that is another topic for another day though.
My children are 3, 5 and 8 years old. Today for “school” we did not test, let me say that first. We started the day off writing fan letters to our favorite MLB teams (language and handwriting/computer skills). We walked in an old cemetery looking specifically for Civil War veterans (social studies/history). This lead to dialogue dealing with economic classes, “Why does that person have a larger headstone than that person?”. We then played at a public playground (recess!). We to the grocery store saw the friendly clerk who always greets the kids and bought items for lunch (math/health/economics). We then came home and prepared a chicken noodle soup with artisan bread (home ec. remember that archaic class?). We will be listening to PJ Harvey and Brown Bird on vinyl while finger painting in a few minutes because art is important contrary to what they say! There will be reading time and play time and so on and so forth. You get the picture. On occasion we are far more structured. Sometimes we use a curriculum of our own and use workbooks for reading, writing and arithmetic. The point I am trying to make is that homeschooling allows you to follow your gut instinct. It is flexible. Not always easy but geared for individual learning. That is why I find it a bit sad and curious as I watch from the side as families express utter frustration with the public education system and then try to bend the machine to fit their individual need. Public education is not about individual need. The answer exist beyond the scope of public education. It is homeschooling.
This is a solution that is often overlooked. People have been conditioned to believe that they lack the ability or time to educate their own children and that is simply not the case, for the most part. Homeschooling is a sacrifice, without a doubt. We live in a society that has a crippled economy which in turn has forced most families at the very least to rely on dual incomes. Financially speaking homeschooling has been a burden on our bank account, but as we all know somethings are worth way more than money. I am aware of and sensitive to a variety of reasons that cause people to hesitate when considering homeschooling. For some people it is simply not a reality. I do believe it is far more obtainable than most people would admit though. It is a lot of work. It requires a hands on investment in regards to your time as well as your children’s but that feeling deep in the pit of your stomach that something is wrong eventually disappears and is replaced by. . . .get ready for it! Learning!
I am friends with a number of public ed. teachers. I am friends with University professors who are educating the next crop of teachers. I’m friends with school board members. I have immense respect for them. They all went into the profession to touch lives and open minds and now are being faced with every obstacle imaginable. I sincerely hope that one day they are able to focus on their primary purpose rather than the distractions of test scores. But I am not willing to sacrifice my children’s education in the process. Truthfully you do not need to either. There are far more options available than taking the test or not taking the test but then spending the rest of the year preparing for it. Homeschooling is an umbrella term that in turn has as many options as there are families. But don’t take my word for it investigate it! Because that’s what homeschooling is all about, education!
Tobias Whitaker also blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad .