The process of keeping your kids out of school usually involves some level of deprogramming yourself. Parents have to get rid of all the conventional ideas we have about school to see that we don’t need school in the conventional way. As parents we have to teach ourselves to go against the grain of what society promotes as education.
One of the reasons I love having this blog is that we are all deprogramming ourselves together. Since I’ve launched the blog you guys have sent me one amazing link after another, and each link has helped me move closer to peace with the idea that I’m doing something I never in a million years thought I’d do with my own kids.
Each link is another step toward assurance that I’m doing the right thing.
So today I’m sharing a bunch of links that have helped me, on my three favorite topics:
1. Are video games harmful?
Check out this video from Steven Johnson, author of the book, Everything Bad is Good for You. In the video Johnston considers what would happen if books had come after video games. We would face the same struggle to incorporate a new media into our established ideas about parenting. We’d say books are one-dimensional and video games are immersive. We’d say books are solitary and anti-social and video games encourage collaborative play. Do you get the picture?
Our disdain for video games is not about the nature of the media per se but rather based on a natural limitation against picturing childhood radically different than what we grew up with.
2. What is the purpose of school?
I couldn’t resist clicking when someone sent me a link to schoolsucksproject.com. Great name, huh? The organization produced a video based on John Taylor Gatto’s book, The Underground History of American Education. The more I understand about why we started public school in the first place, the more clear it is to me that we cannot adapt public school to fit today’s needs for education.
3. What math is important to learn?
A school administrator in Ithaca, NY did a controlled study in 1929 to see if he could drop math from the curriculum. It turned out that kids who did not start learning math until sixth grade ended up performing as well in math in sixth grade as the kids who started learning math in first grade.
It’s an amazing experiment, and as Peter Gray points out in Psychology Today, it’s amazing that more people haven’t heard of the study. It’s a testament to how scared we are to process information that conflicts with what we’ve been told for decades.
The New York Times published an argument for dumping higher math in favor of statistics. The article is written by Andrew Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York, and a author of the book, Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It. He is someone who is working hard to help parents deprogram.
I have lots of links in this post, because there is evidence all around us that can help us think in new ways. But looking at it now, at the end, I see that the most important part of this post are the questions. Parents need to ask incisive, uncomfortable questions in order to get real answers about school. And we need to be ready for images of learning that we never expected to see.
I used to think I don’t ask homeschool questions because they are hard to think of. But recently I’ve noticed that I don’t ask questions because the answers can be so difficult to process.