I’ve mentioned before that I intend to home school my kids who are four and two right now. I think I’ve mentioned my reluctance and simultaneously my inability to make any other decision. A reader asked me to discuss my reasons for wanting to home school and contrary to my initial thought I’ve realised that it’s not actually the same old story that you read everywhere else. While I distrust the education system as it stands right now and worry about what seems to be epidemic levels of bullying, it goes deeper than that. I worry about the future. Millenials already have a raw deal compared to the baby boomers and I think it’s only going to get worse. In this post, I will explain the main reasons that I feel compelled to home school my children.
The education system
At heart I am an evidence-based living kinda gal. Whenever I have a question, I try to find out if there is any research that already tells us the answer. You’d be surprised how much academia already knows that has not trickled into everyday life yet. About a hundred years ago, Freud published a paper saying that he very much doubted that there was any way to change a gay persons sexuality, much like there was not much hope of changing a heterosexual person into a homosexual person. But today, gay conversion therapy still exists in some places. 98% of climate scientists agree that we are causing global warming and the consequences will be dire if we don’t act now but few governments around the world are taking it seriously. Much of the research around drug addiction is pointing toward decriminalisation and a need for more human connections, but we don’t listen.
Education is no different. According to an article in the University of Cambridge website the research “overwhelmingly” shows that children under seven should not be instructed. “This body of evidence raises important and serious questions concerning the direction of travel of early childhood education policy currently in England. In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously.” We should be leaving them to explore the world around them to nurture a love of learning and a better depth of understanding not teaching them their A-B-C’s.
In fact, there are a lot of people who practice unschooling throughout the whole of childhood, where you let your child decide what to study and act as a facilitator rather than an instructor. It can be controversial with people who are unable to see school as anything other than vocational preparatory training. Personally, I want my kids to be curious and engaged with the world. I worry about how many people are just existing and getting through rather than taking part. I’m pretty sure that’s why we have a right wing trajectory throughout the west.
Anyway, current education research is not in any way reflected in the current education system and I cannot bring myself to just close my eyes and hope for the best, even though I often wish I could.
Again current research shows that being bullied as a child is more damaging than neglect. How terrifying is that? They recon its because there is a lot of support and empathy for victims of the former, but not the latter. Both my husband and I were bullied in school, because we were different. We still are different; he’s about to get a PhD and I write this blog because I couldn’t find much evidence of many people who think like me. There’s not much chance of our kids fitting in, especially as we intentionally parent in a way that is meant to create free thinking, independent humans!
I know a lot of people think that kids need to learn how to deal with difficult people, but I am of the firm belief that kids can learn that when they are older and their sense of self is more secure. This opinion is obviously backed up with the research.
In 2010 Erica Goldson gave a valedictorian speech declaring that it was all for nought. “I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.” (BTW, I highly recommend clicking that link and having a look at some of what she said. It’s a very cool animated version.)
Obviously not everyone will react to pressure at school in this way, that’s why she’s the valedictorian. But how sad that the one who excelled the most at the task given feels the most cheated. I just don’t want my kids in that kind of system. When I see kids walking down the street in uniform, I honestly feel a little bit ill. I know a lot of people think that it’s good for them, but honestly how do we teach kids to stop bullying kids who are different when we are also telling them that they all have to look and think the same at school? We send them home for not conforming. We show them its their own fault for not conforming.
Creativity is thinking differently; following your interests to their own logical conclusions. You can’t do that at school. They actively teach kids not to do that at school. It is now mostly about learning how to pass exams.
Recently Google has announced that they are a decade away from real human-like artificial intelligence. Many people have already written about how robots may take all our jobs. It’s already begun, as I’ve written before. Kodak used to employ more than 140,000 people and now there is no need as it’s all digital. There are already computer programs writing news articles. There are Google’s driverless cars, Amazon’s automated helicopter couriers, Japan’s new robot carers. But don’t take it from me, even Bill Gates is worried about the “labor substitution problem,” which “should be solvable… but is happening so quickly.” Let me decifer that for you: robots will take our jobs and politically we are still demonising rather than empathising with the “unemployed” so we’re a million miles away from an economic system that can save us like universal basic income.
Also, Stephen Hawking is worried it will be the end of us completely.
Personally I try not to worry about the end of the human race because there is jack all I can do about that. What I worry about is the future my kids will live in. If there are few jobs, they will need an edge. Creativity is the only edge that will be left in this age of increasing income inequality (neoliberalism). Thinking independently may be dangerous by then, but it will also be the only chance they’ve got. So I’ve got to give it to them.
I’m not saying anyone else should be making the same choice for these same reasons. My decision to home school is based on my understanding of the world and my own opinions about what that will mean for my children’s future. Lots of people will read this and think I’m a nut job. That’s ok.
Featured image is not mine! Credit goes to ThomasLife on Flickr
First image modified from a tommpouce image