Our farm is magical right now. All the animals are having babies. My husband is giving the animals more and more freedom. This year he took the pigs out of farrowing crates and let them farrow in a big, open building full of sunlight and hay. He was worried that the moms would lie on the babies and crush them. This is what hog industry wisdom says will happen. But in fact, the pigs were excellent moms, better than he has ever seen them be before. And the piglets grew up faster, and disease-free when they were left alone to be a variation of free-range pigs.
This will come as no surprise to those of us who have already bought into free-range parenting. But in the hog farmer world my husband looks absolutely crazy. A lunatic. He does not even count as a pig farmer in some peoples’ eyes because his pigs are not caged.
My sons watch this. They do not need a teacher to tell them the baby pigs are looking for their mom to eat. My sons don’t need a teacher to show them the mom’s milk leaks when she’s getting ready to give birth. They don’t need a teacher to learn which feed the pigs like (the goat feed is a favorite). The kids are learning through seeing and doing. And living.
This is why my kids don’t need a teacher. Because they learn about what they are interested in. Linda Dobson has a great post about why kids don’t need teachers. And Zach Sims is a great example of kids needing teachers to get out of their way. He dropped out of Columbia University because, he says, “it was interfering with my learning.” He started Code Academy instead. So that other kids could learn. Wihtout a teacher, of course.
Homeschooling is not about a teacher-student realtionship. That’s for the religious fanatics that think school is great if you’d just get the heathens out of the way. Those people are trying to recreate school at home. For the rest of us, though, we an see the school model is broken, and we are not recreating it at home. For us, homeschooling is about the parent-child relationship.
People say to me, “What about math?”
This blows me away. It blows me away that people trust that my kids will ask to learn to read and write, but they will not ask to do math. Believe it or not, my kids know how to buy stuff on Amazon, and they need to figure out how much what they want to buy will cost. And they need to know if they will be able to pay for the feed for the Alpacas they want to buy. They need to know how many times they’ll have to play Hunter’s Chorus if they practice it for their whole 30 minute practice.
They learn everyday math. If they want to get an 800 on the SAT, that’s all they need to learn. (Well, and then they have to take a cram course to memorize test question types and test-taking strategies.) You are not using calculus in your life, so why do you think your kids will use it? I am using geometry to plan my garden, I’m using algebra to figure out how to make enough money to buy the oven I want, and I trust my kids will have basic, every day needs that will require math. So they will figure out how to learn it.
I trust my kids to be passionate about life. I trust that if I give them love and stability and the opportunity to explore, then they will find what they need to be passionate and engaged. There is no teacher in this equation. Only a bond of trust between a parent and child.
And look, it’s not that math requires a teacher. It’s that convincing a kid to learn math he doesn’t need, ever, requires a teacher. You need a teacher to make a kid learn stuff they are not driven to learn. Which is why my kids don’t need a teacher.