An Unedited Letter from My Children
I want to share something two of my children wrote last year before our family moved from the USA back to Canada to be closer to my wife’s family. I have received their permission to share this. I think it is an anecdotal piece of accidental research that is emblematic of many of the issues we face in our classrooms.
Jared (then in Gr. 10) and Kristen (then in Gr. 7) have been students in public and private schools. They have never, to my knowledge, been bullied. They are both able students. They do not cause commotion and both have active, inquiring minds. They are normal students. And school did not help them continue the learning they naturally did from birth. Three years ago, they had both lost confidence, anticipated school with anxiety, were learning little, and looked forward to snow days. My wife and I put them both into a democratic school – one actually run by the students. In this school (The New School, Delaware), students determine their own curriculum, approve the school’s budget, carry out the school’s policies, deal with disciplinary issues, all irrespective of age that ranged from 5 to 19. Their confidence rose, they learnt amazingly quickly, they played a lot. Then we told them they were going back into a ‘regular’ school. I want to share what my 12 year-old daughter wrote (and my son also signed) as they protested and demanded to be home schooled. I think you will find it illuminating but, maybe, not very surprising. I have not edited what she wrote in any way except to type what she handwrote:
WHY HOMESCHOOLING IS BETTER THAN SCHOOL
The curriculum is more specified for each person
6-7 hours makes a kids brain hurt
Kids learn better when they learn about their interests
Lots Less Pressure
Kids can learn induvidualy. Not all kids learn at the same pace, or learn better one-on-one
Your Kid could take breaks whenever they need to
Kid can eat whenever they need to, or however long they take
No mad morning rush
No unexcused absence
No walking to school in rain or snow. And no dangerous road or non-attentive drivers
No stupid school bells. Kids could never learn anything when they have to drop everything and move on
More exposure to the real world. Also, they learn more pratical things
Kid will have more time to be … kids
No worrying about uniforms
Library books are more intresting than an textbook
No Peer Pressure
Birthdays count as holidays
Helping around the house is far more pratical than memorizing who all the prime ministers are
You could drop a curriculum that isn’t working
You could educate your children about religion
kids should love learning. School doesn’t do that.
Homeschoolers are better prepared for college.
HOMESCHOOLING IN ONTARIO
In Ontario There is no legal requirements to register with the government. If you registered for your kid to attend school you will have to withdraw them.
Homeschooling does not have to be expensive and can depend on a childs interest (if your kid wants to be a reserach scientist you could set a microscope etc.etc.)
If there is a topic or skill you haven’t acquired yourself you could let them learn themselves, like some research books at a library or online or hands on.
Children are always learning. They’re always curious and always asking questions. But children learn at their own pace. The uselessness of standardized tests are being questioned by educators themselves.
Note: after three years of a democratic education, in their new school Jared, the 11th grader, has an A in all subjects and is daily bored. Kristen looks forward to recess.