Friday, November 14, 2008

You can have your schools, we're just fine thanks

What does school teach about life? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And certainly nothing that I can't teach my children at home and from just living life.

Whenever I mention that we are unschooling and our children will not attend a public educational institution, people look at me with almost horror in their eyes and mention the social aspects of home schooling and say that my kids will be a recluse or shy or less able to play with other children.

Doctors, and nurses ask me all the time what we are doing to “ensure their ability to socialize and learn to play wither others.”

People see my almost 4 year old son, being shy and reserved when they, complete strangers, or people he does not know well or see often, and comment that perhaps he needs to attend preschool in order to “work that out”.

My first question is…Why is being shy or a quiet reserved person a bad thing? Why is that something that needs to be “worked out”? I remind them that my son is not unique and he’ll respond and interact however he feels comfortable and I won’t push him.

It is amazing the just because we homeschool, they sct like this is a unique issue and a problem that public schooling will solve.

My husband is shy… and he’s 40 years old. Seems like school didn’t solve it for him, Is he a case of shyness that slipped through the cracks in the public education system? I think not.

There are thousands of children in the public education system, that are shy and reserved. Sitting in a class of thirty other children does not make them un-shy by any means.

If anything, it stands more to reason that being in a class of other children who have the opportunity to pick on them for being pointed out as shy and one who needs to be dragged out of his shell, would make matters worse for them. Stressing an extremely shy child in such forced social situations can cause a lifetime of anxiety for a person. It is certainly not good for a child who is seriously shy to be taught being shy is wrong, and forcing them to interact when they don’t want to.

I love that people can use shyness as an example of a reason to not home school when they have no clue what your child is like in the first place. My daughter is certainly not a reserved child, and in fact is the social butterfly of the neighbour hood, being called on by the neighbour children at 3:30 when they get home from school.

I have asked people what kind of social skills they think my daughter is missing out on by me not sending her to school when she hits that “magical learning age of five”

I have received responses like:

“How will she make friends?”

“How will she learn to play fairly and share?”

The fact is, from what I have seen and experienced, she would likely only miss out on things that are not generally needed in life. Like needing to ask permission to be allowed to listen to her body’s cues and go do a natural bodily function, while learning what it is like to be humiliated in public because it is because she has to ask in front of her peers. This can be embarrassing, especially when a child’s trust in their own perceptions needs to be approved by a teacher first, not to mention, teaching kids that adults don’t trust you and your ability to judge for yourself, if the teacher refuses and you really need to go, and I turn creates a lack of trust in adults with the child.

I have literally seen children pee their pants because the teacher did not think that the third kid to ask to go to the washroom in the last twenty minutes really needed to go!! PLEASE!! They all just drank a juice box at recess time; of course they have to pee.

My children would miss out on having their creativity handed to them in a coloring page, and a pre decided, pre cut color and paste craft, that will be critiqued if they color the picture the “wrong” colors. They would miss out on their imaginations being squashed because the teacher thinks math is more important right now then wondering where butterflies come from.

Looking back at my own report cards from as far back as kindergarten, they all say in the “concerns and comments” section, that I was too much of a day dreamer and needed to be told to get back to work on a regular basis. One teacher even went as far to call me a “spaced out child”, because I was more interested in looking at the bugs and worms outside on the ground, or the birds flying by the classroom window. “Sapced out was the 1979 term for ADHD I guess.

I was reported in Kindergarten for being “too interested in playing house” and not using the blocks more, and was actually punished with no play time in the dress up, play house area, until I did at least 10 minutes at the blocks and 10 minutes at the chalk board for free drawing. I kid you not!!! I remember being worried that I’d fail kindergarten if I didn’t comply and grit my teeth though forced chalk board free time. I also remember the next terms report coming home and it being detailed at how I either was successful or needed improvement at being “well rounded in my play”. I apparently painted to fast, and didn’t put enough detail into my drawings, and I was too wrapped up in playtime to stop playing dressup and houe to go out for recess.. How completely asinine!!!

Funny how today I’m a mother and a wife “playing house” and I seem to have no lack of ability to play with building blocks with my son, or stacking the wood. I have the ability to put down the housework and go have some fun for a short time, and..funny enough I STILL hate the feel of chalk dust in my hands.

I don’t want my child’s interests to be pushed aside, and have her be told that her imagination is not important. I don’t want her chanstized for not being “well rounded enough” because she has a genuine interest in something she is good at or enjoys doing. I feel that can greatly effect ones self-esteem negatively.

I always wonder who decided that all children at the age of 5 and 6 needed to be more concerned with math and the alphabet, then whatever interests them at that age. I know as an adult I do not learn on someone else's schedule. I learn as I find I am interested in it.

The day that all adults /governments/school systems realize that children are people too, and are to be cherished and loved, not controlled and told when to think what, and when to think it we will have a wonderful world. The day that home schooling is the norm and the majority, is when I will breathe a sigh a relief, but sadly, I know I am not likely to see that day in this lifetime.

So, maybe my child would not learn how to stand in a line? That seems like a big concern and something schools teach children right? Teachers or obsessed with lining up for everything. Stand in line for the bus, stand in line for the bathroom, and stand in line for the basket ball in gym class. Stand in line to leave a classroom for lunch. Schooled kids are like trained seals who line up at the clap of a hand or the sound of a bell.

Someone actually told me that once! That my kid would not know how to stand in line in real life if they didn’t go to school, and that standing in line teaches them patience.


It does?? Well then the lady that works at Wal-Mart who was on a break shopping and butted in line in front of me the other night because she only had a few things, must not have gone to school! I thought she was just a rude person, but I guess she was just ignorant ( not aware).

I’m not kidding, as she was butting in line, without actually waiting for the answer, she said ” You don’t mind if I go ahead of you do you? Thanks so much” and had her stuff on the belt, cashing out, before I could blink.

She had two less items then I had, and she didn’t even wait for my response, because she wasn’t expecting one. She expected that I’d comply to her “request” ( read demand) without complaint.

My response was “No, I guess I don’t mind at all, since you didn’t wait for a response and are already there!” she didn’t even LISTEN to me, and was off chatting away to the cashier on duty, so I was essentially speaking to no one. My husband was enraged! I just shook my head. Another great example of the school system at it’s finest, putting out thoughtful, patient, well-rounded people into the world.

I am amazed that people cannot see the things they do in normal life that are life lessons so much more then sitting in a class room and all listening to one person call the shots. When I was told that my kids needed school to learn to stand in line, after the laughter, I responded with, “Well, I guess maybe a bank would be good enough to teach about standing in lines, don’t you think?”, and “Oh, and what about the grocery store, the doctors office?”

The thing about lines in school is you all have to stand in a pin straight line behind the next and are not allowed to turn around and talk to someone you know. Is that natural?

I ask you... When was the last time you were in a bank and saw the line be perfectly straight? NEVER. But gee, everyone knows who is first, and when their turn is don't they?

Looks like the teachers were wasting our time teaching about lines, or they should have admitted in the first place they were not doing it for our benefit to learn paitence; they were doing it for their own benefit so they would not have to deal with children actually being children and human.

I have yet to see someone who saw a friend or neighbour in a store and didn’t talk to them, because they were taught in school that when your in a line you need to be quiet.

Can you just imagine this conversation?

You: "Hi Ril! How have you been!? It’s been forever, how are you keeping? How’s the kids!!?" Me: "Shh, don't you know we are not supposed to talk in line!!!” then, a quick glance toward the cashier, to make sure they didn’t catch us, and, “I'll call you later, shh before we get in trouble!! The cashier might see us!"

I don't know any time in my life since I have been released from institutional schooling, when I have ever spent five days a week in a room with thirty other people my age, or was expected to, and I certainly don’t know how that at any point in my schooling years, taught me valuable social skills that I used as an adult when I worked with mentally handicapped adults, or visited elderly folks.

About the only social skill is taught me was how to pass the notes discretely and not get caught or it would be read out loud to the class. School also taught me how to not show people that I was different or unique, because I would be picked on for it.

Great set of social skills. Don't be yourself, lie and be sneaky!

I have worked many jobs since I graduated from school at 18, and none of them required sitting in a room with people of the same age or skill level. As a matter of fact, like you, I’m sure, the jobs that I held, had so many different ages/races/religions that I learned more about the world and people's cultures then I could have from any book, that it was amazing. I did not read about other countries and cultures, I experienced them and talked to people of that culture and learned so much and made friends. Tasted their foods, watched their traditions and asked questions out of genuine interest. That, in my opinion is a far greater lesson then writing out on a piece of paper where India is, and its population, and passing it in to a teacher to grade.

If I wanted my child to be told what to do constantly and to conform to someone else's ideas of the world I would sign them up for the armed forces. In my opinion, not even I feel I have the right to impose my own beliefs and feeling on my children. We try to set things up for self investigation for them, and plan to allow her to be exposed to as much as possible so she can make her own choices, as far as careers and religion goes, later in her life.

Schools do not teach social skills, at best (or is that at worst) recess and lunch hours do, as limited as it is. That alone should clue our society in to just how our schools are failing to teach life skills. In the meantime, until they figure that out, they are only now reporting on national Canadian news that our schools are failing to provide adequate education to our children, who are graduating well under grade level for reading and math skills, and are struggling in the real world due to it.

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