Monday, August 16, 2010

An unschooler's wish

We who homeschool, and who also homeschool differently, we who are different, are sometimes considered freaks.

That's okay with me. I probably am a freak.

But just leave me alone, okay? I wouldn't presume to tell you how to educate your children. Cut me the same slack. ( Tones of Pink Floyd here...We don't need no education..)

Read The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List.

I especially like ~ 10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions..

The Church states that education is a matter for the family, the Church and the State. (See Gravissimus Educationis and Divini Illius Magistri.) Homeschooling matches these criteria. As do Catholic schools. There is no competition.

Also ~ 20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

My teens are nice, naughty, fun, boring, well behaved, social, anti social, all at one time,depending on the day, their mood, the circumstance. Like you and me. This is not an effect of homeschooling. It is life.

Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God's own people. See Gravissimus Educationis.

Children learn how to behave from the school of home and family, the school of life, the school of church and of community. They make mistakes and are guided, gently and with love (and in our house with friendly banter and sarcasm) to that which is right and good.

This is unschooling at its best.

And it happens in our unschooling home. All the time. Day in and day out. Simply because we spend so much time together.

And while we are on my unschooler's wish....14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

My older sons are doing well at university and at work, having learned from our learning-from-life-and-interests approach to homeschooling. My younger two sons are still learning in this organic fashion.

It works. It even has the backing of the Church and of educational philosophy.

Emergent curriculum is a way of planning curriculum based on the student’s interest and passions as well as the teacher’s. To plan an emergent curriculum requires observation, documentation, creative brainstorming, flexibility and patience. Rather than starting with a lesson plan which requires a “hook” to get the children interested, emergent curriculum starts with the children’s interests. This is not to say that the teacher has no input, in fact teachers may well have a general topic they think is important for children to study and they may purposely include certain materials or experiences related to it as jumping off points. Elizabeth Jones points out:We are the stage directors; curriculum is teacher’s responsibility, not children’s. People who hear the words emergent curriculum may wrongly assume that everything simply emerges from the children. The children’s ideas are an important source of curriculum but only one of many possible sources that reflect the complex ecology of their lives. This process requires a great deal of flexibility and creativity on the part of the teacher. Carolyn Edwards notes: “The teachers honestly do not know where the group will end up. Although this openness adds a dimension of difficulty to their work, it also makes it more exciting.”

As Suzie Andres says, in her book, Homeschooling With Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschooling, the Church allows for unschooling and even places it in line with its tradition.

Pope Pius XI said ~ If any of these terms are used, less properly, to denote the necessity of gradually more active co-operation on the part of the pupil in his own education, if the intention is to banish from education despotism and violence, which, by the way, just punishment is not, this would be correct but in no way new. It would only mean what has been taught and reduced to practice by the Church in traditional Christian education, in imitation of the method employed by God Himself towards His creatures, of whom he demands active co-operation according to the nature of each. See Divini Illius Magistri

This could almost be a description of unschooling ( ie involving the active co-operation of the learner; banishment of despotism in education).

So, this unschooler's wish is to not be nagged about unschooling. Or homeschooling. Ask questions. Discuss. Or just leave us alone. But don't assume that we know nothing of education or of Church teaching. Don't assume we need your advice on good schools.

And, from that Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List above, 23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

Rest assured. I am not. I am working on the virtues, with God’s grace and the sacraments, every day of my life.

Like you, perhaps, I swear, get cross, drink too much sometimes, talk too much, comfort eat.

And I homeschool. Still.


rox said...

Thanks Leonie ☺
ok I love Your new blog paper here ! Leonie it is almost exactly like the wall paper my sis and I picked out for our room when we were like 9yo !
very cool ☺
lov rox

Fr. Benedict said...

mmm, I wonder to whom this blog post was addressed???? love it!!

Leonie said...

LOL Rox..retro wallpaper!

And Fr..mmm..yes.. and glad you like it!!

Chris said...

Love the Bitter homeschooler's wish list. Gave me moments of nodding my head in recognition of these experiences and a good laugh.