Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rogue Homeschooling Parent

One of the reasons why I'm so attracted to Daniel Quinn's method of helping us see through The Myth of Schooling is that it's not steeped in Christian mythology. What I'm trying to say is that as a homeschooling parent my wife and I don't keep our kids from going to school because the schools don't represent Christian values. Whatever the hell that is. Our kids are not going to school because they don't work. You see, I'm trying to see this from the perspective of 38 year old father of three children living in a hunter gatherer primitive tribe. It's an imaginitive act. And making that imaginitive move has me standing in the shoes of a rogue homeschooling parent without many like minded people around me.

It's been well over a decade since I ran across this passage in Daniel Quinn's Providence:

"Nothing magical happens at the age of five to render this [learning] process obsolete or invalid. You would know this if you observed what happens in cultures that we in our arrogant stupidity call primitive. In primitive cultures, parents simply go on keeping the children around, paying attention to them, talking to them, giving them access to everything, letting them try out things for themselves, and that's it. They don't herd them together for courses in tracking, pottery making, plant cultivation, hunting and so on. That's totally unnecessary. They don't give them history lessons or craft lessons or art lessons or music lessons, but--magically--all the kids grow up knowing their history, knowing their crafts, knowing their arts, knowing their music. Every kid grows up knowing everything--without a single minute spent in anything remotely like a school. No tests, no grades, no report cards. Every kid learns everything there is to learn in that culture because sooner or later every kid feels within himself or herself the need to learn it--just the way some kids in our culture get to a point where they feel the need to learn how to compute batting averages....

"Yes, I understand--believe me, I do. What you're saying is exactly what our educators would say: 'That system might work in primitive cultures, but it won't work in ours, because we just have too much to learn.' This is just ethnocentric balderdash; you might not like to hear this, but any anthropologist will confirm it: What children learn in other cultures isn't less, it's different. And in fact nothing is too much to learn if kids want to learn it. Take the case of teenage computer hackers. These kids, because they want to, manage--unaided!--to achieve a degree of computer sophistication that matches or surpasses that of whole teams of people with advanced degrees and decades of experience. Give kids access and they'll learn. Restrict their access to what you think they should learn, and they won't--and this is the function of our schools, to restrict kids' access to learning, to give them what educators think they should know, when they think they should know it, one drop at a time."

After reading that passage and many others I had a better understanding as to why I hated school and why my kids (If I had them) would not attend school.

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