I had a friend in graduate school who used to irritate me by asking the professor one too many questions. Usually, the questions were of an open-ended sort.
“Doesn’t this seem a little fatalistic?” she asked of Yeats’ The Second Coming, for example. This grated on my nerves.
“Why do you ask so many questions?” I said. Me, classroom-hater, classroom fanatic.
“Because I’ve always believed,” she responded, “that education is a two-way street.”
We tend to forget that when it comes to educating children, I think. In spite of the constant reminders about educating literally meaning “to draw out,” we tend to sometimes think that just dumping a bunch of information into kids and then seeing how quickly they can regurgitate those facts is somehow teaching them.
Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think. – Albert Einstein
I remember being terrified of teaching my own children when we first began to think of homeschooling. Perhaps it was because I tend to be an introvert and the idea of standing in front of a group and teaching them seemed, frankly, intimidating.
It wasn’t until I realized that homeschooling isn’t like teaching a classroom – you don’t have to work hard to get and keep their attention, it really doesn’t take very long at all and it provides you with ample opportunities for your own intellectual stimulation and perhaps a side profession.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Homeschooling works because it is intimate, individualized and introspective. ” quote=”Homeschooling works because it is intimate, individualized and introspective. “]
Homeschooling is Intimate
One of the biggest advantages homeschooling has over a classroom setting is that it is intimate. Like a conversation, it is a shared experience between the teacher and the student, a mother and her child, a father and his son or daughter. There is time to ask questions and have them answered. There is time to read a story, explore the segues, learn something as an accident.
Homeschooling often is learning just by the way, as a side effect, just for the heck of it, just because it is so darn fun!
None of this is possible in a classroom or in a performance.
Homeschooling is Individualized
My son recently moved on to multiplication while my daughter needed more practice with subtraction, so I kept her there. The thing is she’s older than him. This is not a big deal with us because I don’t stress about their grade levels.
In a classroom where they would be expected to be in lock step with their peers, this would be a problem. But who cares? They’re learning to mastery, they’re learning to their interests and I’m giving them free rein where they want it and where they excel.
The same daughter who needs more practice in subtraction is reading way above her grade level. She has practical skills unmatched in children her age. She is creative, curious and incredibly smart. Individualized education serves her well.
Homeschooling is Introspective
I can learn anything I want. In today’s world where information is everywhere and very little stays hidden for very long, it’s not gathering information that counts as education as learning how to process it. Where’s the time to process in a classroom? Where’s the time to think?
One of the tenets of our homeschool is giving the children enough time to be bored, to make their own fun. Homeschooling gives them time to introspect, to piece together what they learned in the day, ask good questions and we even have time to find good answers.
As a homeschooler, I never have to worry about giving a good performance. I only have to engage enough to have a great conversation. Because that’s what teaching really is. And that’s what will always remain the enduring beauty of home education.