What if all the animals of the world had to go to school? Imagine a rabbit failing swimming, or a duck failing running. The squirrel could climb trees but he went along branches instead of up the trunk so he was held back for breaking the rules. The duck couldn't swim so well because his feet were sore.
What if the eagle couldn't master the art of digging and burrowing and eventually felt like a failure because no matter how hard he tried he was just no good at what was required of him? And no matter how much the beaver wanted to fly he couldn't. The school would be filled with failures, or at best average animals doing a little of everything average to poorly.
What if they spent all their time trying to improve at things they would never be great at, just so the school could declare them average and send them into the world? How would they know what to be? Should they swim, climb, fly, hunt or gather?
I could go on and on of course and I'm sure you can come up with even better analogies (please share them in comments). Isn't that precisely what school IS? It's not about finding a child's special gift and talent and then having them master it but rather about making them work at all things to reach an acceptable average. Why?!
A quirrel doesn't need to know how to build a dam. God has given them exactly the tools and talents they need to be what He created them to be and to soar in His purposes, as a squirrel.
But how do you discover a child's gift? A bit tougher hmm? You must be with that child. You must be with them their entire childhood. You must watch and listen. You must turn their hearts and minds to God at all times. You must inspire in them the desire to know God's will for them, or they may never care to seek it. You must inspire, you must remove obstacles to their self discovery - people, noise, criticism. You will need to recognize their weakness and your own prejudices, and see them objectively and then work tirelessly to overcome them.
If you opt out of spending your life in devotion to their childhood do not be surprised later when your little sparrow spends an unhappy life feeling like a failure at swimming.
How many of us grown ups still don't know what our gifts are? Feel purposeless? Lost? Unsatisfied? Or live knowing we never reached our potential?
I don't want that for my children. We homeschool and my goals are very simple:
- To raise children who love and know God
- Grow young people with a strong moral foundation
- Develop a good work ethic
- Inspire empathy & compassion
- Help them discover their passion & purpose
- Preserve their childhood
- Love them
These goals have absolutely nothing to do with grammar, or math. Lessons, "book-working" is a cake walk really. If those values are in place then children enjoy learning. They want to hear what you have to share, and are willing to work hard. They understand how to be successful. Then, it isn't imposed upon them but inspired from within them. If that foundation isn't set chuck every bit of curriculum and start on those basics. Spend as long as it takes to get those fundamentals in place. The school work, can be caught up in a matter of months but the opportunity to develop who they are - well that time is fleeting.
John Holt said something to the effect of, "How is it that people say they are learning to play an instrument? Does that mean at some point the learning stops and the playing begins? No, the playing is always present and the learning never stops."
Too many experts think they are teaching and the seem frustrated when the student wants it to be over. If you are focused on teaching then don't be surprised when the student is looking for the finish line so they can stop learning. Be it a lesson of grammar or a lesson of life. Kids know the difference. They know when you are with them and sharing something with them from a place of love, or from a place of obligation and something you don't really value. How can they value it?
Spend your time instead discovering whether or not you have an otter, turtle or rabbit and then help them to be the very best they can be. Spend your time, your precious time growing them, raising them up.
I know bucking the system is scary. What will people think? I don't know. I don't care. Maybe that's the monkey in me?