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Why my kids will be home-schooled

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ApochPiQ

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So I've been catching up on my web reading after my trip, and I came across Daerax's post about the school system. I find my own story remarkably similar, and my opinions about the ssytem just as strong.

It wasn't until fourth grade or so that I really cottoned on to the fact that the system was actually damaging me. Looking back, though, I think I can see why - for my first three years of education, I had the tremendous fortune to have teachers who recognized my situation, and handled it accordingly. In fact, I can deliberately trace back my enjoyment of those three years to those teachers.

I'm normally pretty self-conscious about thinking differently from most "normal" people. I've had more than one person tell me they thought I was "a little slow" or even autistic until I happened to give in and throw out something intelligent-sounding. That's largely been the result of my school experience; the system came very close to burning that out of me entirely, and pushing me to just stifle it and blend in with the status quo. That's why I find all of this so scary - it very nearly worked.

(Some of you may be chortling into your shirt sleeves at the mere thought of me being uncomfortable talking about myself. Believe me, this is pretty much the first and only venue I've used to do so. I vent all of my smug arrogance here because it never gets to see daylight anywhere else [wink])


As my parents like to tell it, they first noticed I was "a little different" when one of my first sight-words was "cholesterol" -- at the age of four. One night I copied the entire periodic table of the elements from my older sister's chemistry textbook and hung it on my wall - being five years old at the time.

Once, before I started school, I got in trouble for insulting a second grader for not knowing how to do multiplication. In the first grade, when the class was learning to trace the alphabet over inch-high, dotted letters, I was sneaking down the hall and copying the cursive alphabet reference from one of the other classes, and copying random bits of sheet music into the margins of my homework. I rarely turned in anything that wasn't covered in doodles of astronauts, spaceships, and ray guns.

I don't recall for sure, but sometime between the first and second grades, my teacher caught the "warning signs." As I look back on it, I owe pretty much my entire life to Mrs. West. She made a very strong impression on my parents about just how important it was to feed my behavior - which, she warned, would become increasingly anarchic and chaotic over the years. She strongly emphasized the fact that I would begin to fight the system, and made it absolutely clear that I was to be encouraged - even assisted - in that, no matter what.

Naturally, I didn't find any of that out for years. The only inkling I had was the "special test." The test was fine with me, since it meant I got to skip a couple hours of class. It was quite a while before I caught on to what the test was for. The only part of it that really stands out in my memory was a single question.

The guy giving the test was nice enough; he knew better than to use a condescending tone with kids, which I had already subconsciously learned to equate with people who were worth respecting. He got to a question about the "difference between a 'yard' and a 'pound'".

As I recall, I got a good minute and a half into a diatribe about the philosophical implications of imprisoning animals and confining them to prescribed spaces versus treating them as near-equal members of society (that is, pets). The guy got really bug-eyed and finally interrupted me, and explained that he was talking about units of measurement. I remember thinking that it was odd to have such a simple question on a (clearly important) test.


That kind of thing continued; the better teachers I had would give me extra challenges and leeway to screw around while I waited for the rest of the class to catch up - provided, of course, I didn't disrupt anything. The bad teachers would insist I quit drawing on my homework, quit staying inside to write out computer programs in my notebooks instead of playing on the playground, quit taking my notebooks outside, and so on. A "survey" of the students in that year asked what everyone's favorite part of the day was; the other students' answers were usually things like "recess" or "lunch." Mine was "getting done with math early and working on my own problems."

There were more incidents than I can really count; eventually, as predicted by my first grade teacher, I got outright confrontational. Fortunately, a well-timed move lined up with a perfect opportunity for me to begin home-schooling. In sixth grade I joined a weekly program that was designed to supplement home-schooling with proper lab experiments, social interaction, and so on. It took about three weeks for the teacher to pull me aside and ask if I was willing to do the eighth-grade level course work instead; that was the highest he could offer.


I dropped another couple of years into The System, and had quite a few very explosive run-ins with the more traditional, closed-minded teaching staff. I got along quite well with a couple of teachers, who quickly pushed me off into my own projects when it became clear that the regular class pace wasn't enough. Usually, they did so in the face of very severe opposition - and, in one case, harsh consequences - from the higher-ups in the system.

I formed a group of students that swore to overthrow the student-council body and cause chaos at every school event; we successfully operated for two years. If it hadn't been for the good teachers there, we probably would have explored our more elaborate plots - and gotten sent to the Big House for serious property damage.

On more than one occasion, I got into pretty deep trouble for telling teachers how they should be running their classes, or outright correcting misinformation. In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have done it in front of the entire class, but I still think it's a bit stupid for the system to discourage criticism from the very people that are supposedly being trained to deal with real life.


I technically finished high school, but, being a home schooler, have no credentials to show for it. Legally speaking, I'm a dropout. I don't regret it. In the years since, I've thought seriously about going back to college to finish up a degree; I'd love to learn, and some of the stuff I'm most interested in is impossible to study outside of academia. Through it all, the single reason I've put off doing so is always the same: I love to learn, but I hate being taught.



It is telling that so many smart kids come through the education system so thoroughly disgusted with it. I can readily think of dozens of ways in which the system can (and should) be changed, and I know from talking to other people in situations similar to my own that my views are not unique.

The more I look at the state of this nation and Western society as a whole, the more apparent it is to me that virtually all of our problems arise from a single cause: free thinking is actively discouraged. Our society is designed to create a system of automatons. For a country that is supposed to be the icon of freedom and individuality, we're doing a shitty job of it.


Why do we elect morons into government offices? Because vanishingly few voters educate themselves about the issues. Most - including many in my own family - use knee-jerk reactions and hasty decision points, or vote along party lines. It's not always because they're stupid; usually it's because they just don't know any better. Or they're lazy.

Why do our corporations topple to stupidity, greed, and corruption? Why is white-collar crime becoming an increasingly rampant problem? Why is religion being used increasingly as a mindless excuse for a vast host of ridiculously intolerable behavior? Why is misinformation on the Internet so painfully easy to propagate?


All of these problems can be cured by a single, simple thing: critical analysis and reasoning skills. The ability to consider an issue, think it through from various points of view, and come to a decision is a vital skill for living as an adult member of a civilised society. Without that skill, society will inevitably lapse into a cycle of complacency, which leads to increasing concentration of ever-greater powers to an ever-decreasing number of people, until eventually we arrive at a more or less feudalistic or even imperialistic situation. In the happy cases, a large enough underground of critical thinkers arises, overthrows the tyrrannical powers, and ushers in a (woefully short) era of freedom and prosperity.

I think right now this country is well past the complacency phase and quite a ways down the road to creating a dictatorship. I know I'm hardly alone in that assessment.


For quite a while, I believed that such a cycle is an inevitable and natural part of the way societies work. Certainly the pattern has been observed often enough. An informal look at society clearly shows that critical thinkers are a minority - the people who really genuinely care, and who have the mental skills to do something, are simply overwhelmed by the vast herds of those who don't.

The responsibility for keeping society operating lies squarely on the shoulders of those who have the ability to think for themselves, and the integrity to act accordingly. But if those people are outnumbered too severely, it is all too easy to accept defeat, and allow the cycle of collapse to take over. It is my belief that this is the predominant cause of the decay of "free" societies into feudalistic or despotic ones.


So what are we to do? If there are not enough of us to stem the tide forever, and keep the weight of entropy from destroying our efforts, should we accept that fate? Should we expend our energy and our lives in vain, and postpone the inevitable for perhaps another generation, at the most? Or should we resign ourselves to the reality that most people are lazy, ignorant fools who will gladly jump off the lemming-cliff of society and drown, if it means they don't have to turn off the TV?


Being cynical and more than a bit lazy myself, my answer for quite some time has been "eh, screw it." I figured it would be better to enjoy life and not worry about things I can't control a hundred years into the future.

But that's stupid. If nobody worried about 100 years from now, we'd leave the world in pretty crappy shape. It may be easy for us to write off future generations... but what if the people of the early 1900's had decided the same? What if, 100 years ago, someone had decided "eh, screw it" and turned the surface of the planet into nuclear-ravaged glass? Someone will suffer the consequences in 100 years; the fact that it probably won't be us is irrelevant. The survival of society is impossible if the views of every person are as narrow as their own lifetimes.


Why should we fear consequences from criticising government? For that matter, why should we fear consequences from criticising our own employers? Problems do not get fixed by people quietly pretending they don't exist. Problems get fixed by people raising holy hell until enough others get concerned and take action. Those who question and challenge the status quo should not be looked on with distaste or distrust; they should be the heroes and idols of society. Being a whistle-blower should not have the stigma of the annoying, bratty kid who tattle-tales all the time. That should be a role of honor, respect, and admiration.

I for one am sick of the situation. I'm not content to just watch it go to hell. And someday, hopefully, I'll be in a situation to decide where and how my own children will be educated.

In my mind, there really isn't much of a decision to make. My children will be home-schooled. They will be taught to be critical thinkers, to attack the system, to question weakness, and to encourage proactive change. I will raise my children to dream - fervently and with the passion of great visionaries - of overthrowing the system. My kids will tell people that, when they grow up, they want to be whistle-blowers, and the bigger the scandal they blow open, the better.


The cycle is not impossible to overthrow. It is not too late to change. There is still plenty of hope for fixing tomorrow. But it will take critical thinkers, skeptics, people who challenge anything and everything they see.

Such people are not rare by virtue of some genetic prank. They are not rare because they are unusual, or because "normal" people are incapable of taking on such a role. Such people are not required to be extraordinarily smart, insightful, or genetically lucky. They just need to be trained.


Our society has reached its current situation precisely for one reason: our educational system has caused it. The collapse and decay - so evident to those of us who do have those all-important skills of analysis - is the inevitable and inescapable by-product of a system that trains children to prefer regurgitated dogma to carefully considered opinion. The entire connotation of the word "opinion" has shifted; it no longer represents a view derived from analysis and thought. Opinions are now utterly arbitrary, purely subjective, and unassailable. In many circles, it is actually considered reprehensible to hold an opinion with any basis in logic or rationality.

Anyone can be a critical thinker. It does not require a prodigious "IQ" (although the very notion of IQ is pretty stupid and directly tied to the very system that's caused us so much trouble). You don't have to be weird, abnormal, unusual, or even especially smart to do it.

And, amazingly enough, there is a direct correlation between one's ability to think critically, and how much one cares about important issues. Complacency is an epidemic problem in our society, but not because of something in the water - because nobody has been trained with the mental skills to realize that they should care.



Daerax, I'm fully behind your efforts. Let me know how your project develops - I'd like to do the same, when the opportunity arises. It's time to fix the problem.
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I think my first reply may have been eaten. But I read the rest of your post; so... (In fact, both seem to have been eaten. Maybe this will show up as a double post...)

Critical thinking skills cannot be taught in school. Yes, that's a very bold statement. I'm not saying they should not, nor that they actually could not - it's more of a will not. Lets face it; some people are just dumb. Critical or abstract thinking requires some form of intelligence to already be there, and usually when it is, it's already been smashed out by a complete neglect of early childhood learning. Teaching these skills will require the seperation of the grain from the flak. We already have this to a limited degree, but our politically correct society will only tolerate so much. The masses don't mind us calling some kids 'above average', but any sort of 'critical thinking' class would require more than that. By definition, it would mean some kids are 'smart' and some are 'dumb'.

(P.S., I had an IQ test in the fourth grade and scored in the 99th percentile. Previous to this, all my teachers assumed I was 'special' because I was a 'fidget'. In reality, I was just done and bored; if they had bothered to ask me, I would have told them so.)

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Why is it that people who have those 'tests' early on in their schooling like to make computer programs :p! I too had one in my first year of primary schooling (prep for those Aussies around here). However I was never one to disrupt the class. Yes I was a bit arrogant, and to a certain extent still am, but due to my Christian upbringing being rebellious just because I was bored was simply not on. If I could make my case rationally and without disrupting anybody, my parents and teachers were all for it. But not to just lash out because I was bored. And I think that is why I 'survived' in the school environment for so long. I still have 1 and a bit years left to go before I'm in uni, and I want to be a teacher. In my physics class, I do more work with the other students than the teacher. She is a dodgy teacher - she knows what she's on about but she is just lazy! - and it's left to the students to pick up the slack. It's like that in all my classes except English. Maths, Biology, Chemistry, I always have someone asking me for my help. That does breed a certain sort of arrogance which I am always trying to combat. However, because of these experiences, I want to be a teacher. I want to have an impact on these kids. I still remember my Prep / Grade 3 maths teacher because she was the one who fought the 'powers at be' to get me my 'special test'. I want to be a teacher like that!

The upshot of all this was to question your idea of home schooling. Yes you have direct control over the education of your child/children, which I totally support. But they then lack those social interaction skills with people of their own age. I suffered with this because my siblings are all relatively smart, and at 8 – 14 years older than me. I was doing my brothers year 11 maths homework (okay it was rounding numbers that the calculator gave me) when I was 5 years old. This made it a bit hard for me to relate to the other kids at school. Even now my good friends are all older than me, because I relate to them better. Once again I have been rambling, but is there a way in America (I’m from Australia and as far as I am aware there isn’t that opportunity here) to home school your child/children, but still give them that social interaction that they will need if they are to survive in society?

I hope there is, because as I have found out, the social interaction between people your own age is vital. And I also understand your wish to have your children ‘properly’ educated.

Cheers
Jacob.

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Quote:

The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.

- Assyrian Tablet, c2800 BC


A witty quote I try to remember whenever I hear of dire warnings like this. I agree of course that the education system is perhaps a little too inflexible at times, but I remember that a public education system is one of the primary reasons for America's historical prosperity.

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Wow, that was long but very enjoyable read. I gobbled it down like a starved man offered a haunch of roast. A much needed motivation to counter the so, so depressing complancency towards the decay that is the attitude of most people towards this situation.

Quote:
oriinal post by ApochPiq

Such people are not rare by virtue of some genetic prank. They are not rare because they are unusual, or because "normal" people are incapable of taking on such a role. Such people are not required to be extraordinarily smart, insightful, or genetically lucky. They just need to be trained.

...

Anyone can be a critical thinker. It does not require a prodigious "IQ" (although the very notion of IQ is pretty stupid and directly tied to the very system that's caused us so much trouble). You don't have to be weird, abnormal, unusual, or even especially smart to do it.


Here too lies the core of my philosophy on this matter.


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Our society has reached its current situation precisely for one reason: our educational system has caused it. The collapse and decay - so evident to those of us who do have those all-important skills of analysis - is the inevitable and inescapable by-product of a system that trains children to prefer regurgitated dogma to carefully considered opinion. The entire connotation of the word "opinion" has shifted; it no longer represents a view derived from analysis and thought. Opinions are now utterly arbitrary, purely subjective, and unassailable. In many circles, it is actually considered reprehensible to hold an opinion with any basis in logic or rationality.


How could you have forgotten the media machine? The media diverting away the humanity of the children and turning them into material obsessed drones - but we need this to support our economy though...

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Daerax, I'm fully behind your efforts. Let me know how your project develops - I'd like to do the same, when the opportunity arises. It's time to fix the problem.


Thank you, this truly means much to me.

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Deyja, I must disagree with you on this matter, in a manner. Although you cannot teach critical thinking you can nurture it.

The only difference between you and "normal" people is your stronger self reliant nature and less of a need of a strong catalyst to aid your abstract mental development.

Telastyn, did not Babylon fall eventually? Do not overgeneralize one civilization to all of humanity. Note also that the United States experienced two educational reforms (AFAIK). One in the 1800s and another in the 1940s. These reforms acted each in turn to make the populace more controllable en masse - for the good of the economy - (I know it sounds conspirational but if you look at the beuracracy involved in education your skepticism would surely dissolve) and is nothing like what it was in the past when the revolutionary few where building and ensuring the future of the states. There is no trace of that strongly humanist ideals of those fathers in the past currently in the system.

And already, it is commonly held that the strength of the united states is in its decline, the short sited economic greed has been what has undermined the entire principle of the country. sad. It is not too late though.

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Original post by Deyja
Critical thinking skills cannot be taught in school. Yes, that's a very bold statement. I'm not saying they should not, nor that they actually could not - it's more of a will not. Lets face it; some people are just dumb. Critical or abstract thinking requires some form of intelligence to already be there, and usually when it is, it's already been smashed out by a complete neglect of early childhood learning.


I believe you're utterly wrong. I know of many anecdotal counterexamples to your claim.

Critical thinking cannot be taught within the current educational model. But it can be taught, and being "dumb" is not an obstacle. In any case, far more people are capable of critical thought than are currently trained to practice it.

I believe that your standpoint is defeatist and largely arises from the current educational model's effects. In the current system, the people who survive to adulthood as thinkers are those who are gonna think, damnit, and you can't stop us. We continue to think not because we're the only ones smart enough to do it, but because we're the only ones who are stubborn enough.

I'm no dummy, and I very nearly had the thinking squished out of me by the system, as I recounted briefly above. And I know many people of "average" intelligence who are quite good at critical thinking. (Even more telling - and more scary - is the fact that I know plenty of very smart people who did get the thinking squished out of them, and very thoroughly at that.) There may be some corner cases and unique quirky bits that require encyclopedic knowledge (or actual research skills, another thing not taught at all by our system) to analyse, but that isn't important. There will always have to be some degree of specialization.

But for areas that affect the whole of society, like politics, the "common man" is both fully capable of critical thinking, and responsible for doing so. Government by the people quickly turns into government by mass stupidity if people are not trained to think. Tell me if you can think of a phrase that better captures the Bush administration than "government by stupidity" - seriously.


The ability to think is not some magical gene that you either have or don't have. I could have been just as complacent as anyone else, but for the very fortunate observations of my first grade teacher - someone who I have not thanked properly, or enough, for her influence on my life. My parents, particularly my father, had a tremendous impact both on motivating and teaching me to think for myself.


Quote:
Original post by Manaxter
The upshot of all this was to question your idea of home schooling. Yes you have direct control over the education of your child/children, which I totally support. But they then lack those social interaction skills with people of their own age. I suffered with this because my siblings are all relatively smart, and at 8 – 14 years older than me. I was doing my brothers year 11 maths homework (okay it was rounding numbers that the calculator gave me) when I was 5 years old. This made it a bit hard for me to relate to the other kids at school. Even now my good friends are all older than me, because I relate to them better. Once again I have been rambling, but is there a way in America (I’m from Australia and as far as I am aware there isn’t that opportunity here) to home school your child/children, but still give them that social interaction that they will need if they are to survive in society?



Home schooling does not in any way preclude social development. In fact, in a lot of ways, I think it enables better social development. Consider: on the one hand, a kid can grow up in the extremely horrible atmosphere present in most public (and private) school systems, where rule-by-peer-pressure is the dominant principle, and tormenting those on the fringes of the bell curve is not only expected but actively encouraged (in many cases just as fervently by the "adults" as the children). Or, on the flip side, a parent can provide an environment for their kid(s) to interact with others who are also being taught to think for themselves, to develop their own opinions and beliefs, and to analyze the world around them critically.

That's a no-brainer. And I don't care if I step on anyone's toes when I say that I deeply hurt for any poor child whose parents think the first option is anything short of outright abuse.

(As I hinted a couple of times, my own home-schooling involved pretty much constant interaction with other groups of home-schooled students. In my mind home-schooling has nothing to do with imprisoning children in the house all day and demanding that they never speak to anyone outside the family; that kind of ridiculousness is just as shameful as packing kids off to day-care or shoving them in front of the TV instead of actually being a parent.)


Quote:
Original post by Manaxter
Yes I was a bit arrogant, and to a certain extent still am, but due to my Christian upbringing being rebellious just because I was bored was simply not on.


Just out of random curiosity, how do you feel about the fact that Jesus Christ was a self-proclaimed anarchist? He had no problem with standing up and opposing the system when it was causing harm. Look over some of the stuff he had to say about the Pharisees - he was an outright heretic and a criminal by their standards. Some of what he said would be considered pushing the boundaries of free speech even in our country today.

I was never "rebellious just because I was bored." I was rebellious because the system was ass-broken fifteen ways from Rome and I was pissed at the fact that they were ruining my friends and doing their best to ruin me, too.


Anyways, just askin'.


Quote:
Original post by Daerax
How could you have forgotten the media machine? The media diverting away the humanity of the children and turning them into material obsessed drones - but we need this to support our economy though...


The role of the media is to turn everyone into drones.

In all honesty, I've so thoroughly shut out mainstream bullshit propaganda media from my life that I rarely even remember that it exists.

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Telastyn, did not Babylon fall eventually? Do not overgeneralize one civilization to all of humanity.


Everything will fall eventually, but that is besides the point. The joking point was that everyone at anytime will look to the past with nostalgia; everything is worse compared with that tainted lens.

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Note also that the United States experienced two educational reforms (AFAIK). One in the 1800s and another in the 1940s. These reforms acted each in turn to make the populace more controllable en masse - for the good of the economy - (I know it sounds conspirational but if you look at the beuracracy involved in education your skepticism would surely dissolve) and is nothing like what it was in the past when the revolutionary few where building and ensuring the future of the states.


I am not skeptical of that. Any large undertaking takes bureaucracy to a degree. You though I think are forgetting that people have been working to make the populace more controllable since the dawn of man. Personally, I favor the Pledge over religion, brute force, or financial dependance.

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:: stunned applause ::

Have you considered polishing this up (in particular, noone could have enacted the glass-parking-lot scenario 100 years ago; 50 is somewhat more plausible) for, say, 2600 magazine?

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I greatly enjoyed reading both your post here and Daerax's. I've been considering actually making a journal entry just for the fuss about education, the reason being that my day job is in education. I could write pages about what I think you've got just right, where your off a bit, and where there are some really important tangential issues you didn't mention. I'll limit myself to two of the more important ones here.

The first is this:
Quote:
Our society has reached its current situation precisely for one reason: our educational system has caused it. The collapse and decay...

What do you think characterizes the ills of the 'current situation?' I think there are lots of problems with the present day US culture, but I'd like to know if we're on the same page there. However, I disagree with the premise that our society has fallen from some previous peak.

What are we decaying from? There are problems today that didn't use to exist, but I don't think that is necessarily a decay - the problems are just different. I don't think this mythical better pasts exists. Our society has always had problems, some of which have been confronted better than others; some of which have been solved and some of which are greater than ever today. But it's false to suppose that our society used to be far better and it's false to suppose that the educational system is to blame for the new problems that exist . Let's take one: the decline of social capital, which I would suggest is a relatively new and very important issue, but one that I don't think can be fully blamed on education. The reason I bring this up is that many reformers propose changes that amount to an attempt to return to the past - but the past of America or the educational system isn't better than what we have today. There are good ideas from the past and we should learn from it, but we shouldn't try to emulate it or return to it, which is implied in your statement.

The one other big issue you've understated is the general importance of family and community in education. Your desire for home-schooling is certainly evidence of this, but the issue is much broader than you've noted. I believe the failure of education can largely be traced to the failur of families to be involved directly in the education and life of their children. You can blame this on a number of parties - the families themselves, cultural impetus, the educational system, but I think any discussion of educational reform should be based fundamentally on involving the child's family and community in education and returning the educational system to being involved in the family and the community. From an academic viewpoint, there's plenty of research on the importance and effect of family involvement in education.

This is one more facet of the general complacency of the populace that you've noted. I don't think you need to do home-schooling (although it's a valid option), you just need to be direclty involved in your child's education in every way in whatever form that education takes. Society as a whole needs to motivate all familes to take a similar interest. If I had to pick one fundamental issue to tackle to reform education today, that would be it. If parents were actively interested, all sorts of other problems, from incompetent teachers keeping jobs, to children's disinterest in education, to fostering civic involvement would either be solved automatically or would be far easier to confront.

Phew. That was probably very rambling and could use some serious editing. But I probably won't get around to it :(.

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I was also homeschooled for the majority of my life (5th grade through 12th). Homeschooling absolutely provides a better environment for learning that can be personalized, allowing a child to be educated at his or her own pace. Outside of the education provided by the current school system there are other parts of the school's social environment (drugs and alcohol for example) in which children shouldn't be involved. My earlier education (K-5 to 4th) was at a private school and I can say from experience that the learning environment there is no better than what you spoke of ApochPiQ.

Homeschooling doesn't at all limit your social interactivity. In many ways it improves it. I was also involved in a local homeschooling group, like ApochPiQ. The "socially deficient" homeschooler is simply a media stereotype.

Homeschooling is also no longer a hindrance to receiving a college education. I have no high-school issued diploma (which is literally worth the paper it’s printed on), and I was accepted at the university of my choice (where I am currently attending on full scholarship, having been offered scholarships to several other schools).

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You're right - the "good ol' days" don't exist. My wording does tend to imply such, but I don't really think that we're declining necessarily - the situation just sucks, and certainly isn't getting better.


As I touched on in the post, though, I don't think that's necessarily inevitable. The problem, in a nutshell, is that people aren't fixing problems. In many cases this is because they are incapable of realizing that problems exist, or the severity and import of those problems. This in turn comes from a lack of thinking skills. And in my mind there is vanishingly little doubt that our educational model actively discourages critical thought.

I don't think we're going down some nasty hill. Rather, I think that our situation is more pressing simply because of scale. Certainly one could argue that we have better education for any given individual than we did, say, 150 years ago - based on, for instance, literacy rates, or some other reliable metric. However, the simple fact is that our society is growing; world population is growing, and therefore on some scale the global conglomeration of human beings is getting bigger.

The really important truth here is that society cannot exist in a stable form if the majority of people lack the perspective to see beyond themselves. Society is inherently a voluntary submission to certain guidelines and codes of behavior in exchange for certain benefits. However, that exchange is only upheld when people fully realize the effects of their decision - that is to say, if people reach a point where they feel that their personal needs or desires outweigh the societal rules, they will cease functioning in a socially amicable manner. Witness the anarchy and looting that follows any major natural disaster, for instance.

The real danger here is that, without critical thought, we will quite likely reach a "critical mass" level where enough people no longer understand the tradeoffs of society, and begin making poor choices. This doesn't at all mean that we'll all regress to cavemen and start clubbing our neighbors to death to get their BMWs; the real results are far less dramatic, and therefore more dangerous. Consider elections - what percentage of people really votes on issues, versus those who vote arbitrarily, based on partisan politics, or frivolously? What happens once that percentage constitutes a significant majority?


Unless critical thought becomes a central part of our culture, we will eventually reach that point. It doesn't take too much hard looking to realize that critical thinkers are already something of a minority. And if the education system really does destroy thought (as I think it does), the situation will by necessity reach a point where it all goes down the crapper. And it will probably do it in the next few generations.


This is a big problem; it's also a vicious cycle, because it's hard to combat such problems without support from the existing "establishment" generations - who, sadly, are not real big on critical thought themselves. There's no doubt it's an uphill fight, but I don't think that means it's impossible. I certainly don't think that's any excuse to not fight the battle.

The place to attack this is at the educational level. If children are taught to think, encouraged to seek out and solve problems in existing systems, and given the tools and skills required to be informed, productive contributors to society, we can reverse the trend. The current educational system obviously has to be killed first, because the structure of the system inherently precludes such independent thought. With that obstacle removed, we can raise a generation of people who are prepared and willing to continue fighting for the cause, and create our own chain reaction.


I don't think we can force parents to care about their kids' education. But if they already don't care, and the education is good (i.e. promotes thought), they certainly won't pose any obstacle. And those who do care will undoubtedly support such an initiative (unless they're too far brainwashed by the system, of course). So in any case, it should be possible to counteract that inertia and effect a net positive change over time.

Certainly the goal in the long term would be to promote family involvement. In general the quality of parenting has seriously declined over the past century, on average. I think one could probably make a good case for the idea that that decline is itself due to a lack of critical thought. Parents who are really thinking about their roles will tend to favor involvement in their children's lives.


Yes, family involvement can significantly ameliorate the damage that our educational model does to children's minds. In some cases (like mine) it can make all the difference. But in my opinion that is simply bandaging over the more serious underlying problem; and simply treating the symptoms is no way to handle the disease.

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Original post by ApochPiQ
Home schooling does not in any way preclude social development. In fact, in a lot of ways, I think it enables better social development. Consider: on the one hand, a kid can grow up in the extremely horrible atmosphere present in most public (and private) school systems, where rule-by-peer-pressure is the dominant principle, and tormenting those on the fringes of the bell curve is not only expected but actively encouraged (in many cases just as fervently by the "adults" as the children). Or, on the flip side, a parent can provide an environment for their kid(s) to interact with others who are also being taught to think for themselves, to develop their own opinions and beliefs, and to analyze the world around them critically.

That's a no-brainer. And I don't care if I step on anyone's toes when I say that I deeply hurt for any poor child whose parents think the first option is anything short of outright abuse.

(As I hinted a couple of times, my own home-schooling involved pretty much constant interaction with other groups of home-schooled students. In my mind home-schooling has nothing to do with imprisoning children in the house all day and demanding that they never speak to anyone outside the family; that kind of ridiculousness is just as shameful as packing kids off to day-care or shoving them in front of the TV instead of actually being a parent.)


Ok, point taken. My cousins were homeschooled, and turned out a bit 'weird', but in retrospect they would socialise well with people similar to them. Perhaps the situation is a bit different in a country of only 20 million.


Quote:
Original post by ApochPiQ
Just out of random curiosity, how do you feel about the fact that Jesus Christ was a self-proclaimed anarchist? He had no problem with standing up and opposing the system when it was causing harm. Look over some of the stuff he had to say about the Pharisees - he was an outright heretic and a criminal by their standards. Some of what he said would be considered pushing the boundaries of free speech even in our country today.

I was never "rebellious just because I was bored." I was rebellious because the system was ass-broken fifteen ways from Rome and I was pissed at the fact that they were ruining my friends and doing their best to ruin me, too.


Yes, Jesus was a self-procalimed anarchist. Yes he was causing waves, tsunamis even. Yes he was viewed as a criminal, but he is also God's son, which makes it somewhat different to my case. I would have been making waves just to make myself feel better, or to vent some stress. I had no friends who were at all similar to me (come to think of it, I had very few friends at that stage! Amazing what moving schools and communities can do for you.) to defend. My few friends were in fact benifiting from the system (public education isn't that bad in Australia). I was the odd one out. And you are obviously a bit different to me. I survived / am surviving in the system, and plan to do so. I struggle not with being taught, but just with the pace at which the teaching goes.

Cheers
Jacob


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I don't think I was that high of an achiever in anything other than computers, and that was just because I really like games.

I spent a lot of time being discouraged by classes (still do) because I wanted to get back home and work on stuff that I wanted to do. I gave up on a lot of social behaviour, after-school opportunities, and part-time jobs because of that. It's an immature behaviour that still gets in my way, but goddammit I don't want to sit through another one of these boring-ass lectures.

I suspect I just have problems with external authorities telling me what I should work on. Perhaps I'll flee into the mountains and skin bears for a livin'.

In any event, I don't yet consider myself bright enough to raise kids. Maybe another decade and then I can try taking care of the little poop factories.

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I hear you when it comes to smart kids being held back by the system. I had the same troubles in school (mainly because I got no help about it till the end of primary school and none again through highschool or beyond). Yet I can't agree with wanting to homeschool unless the school system of yours is radically different/worse than here in Australia. Not a decision I myself would take lightly, but completely up to you of course.

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Guest Anonymous Poster

Posted

Christ was an anarchist, but only in the strictest definition of active resistance to the system. You see the Pharisees and Sadducees abused the Law of Moses and twisted into a system of ritual and rules. The obeyed and abused people for not following the Letter of the Law, rather than the INTENT. This can be clearly seen in the accusation by the Pharisees that Jesus did not obey the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath. Jesus replied that the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath.

I too share your experience in the education system. I just made the grades, and shut the heck up. Dumbed myself down so to speak. I did go back to school finally. Fortunately for me I wwnt to one of those meet once week, study the materials on your own. This worked best for me. However I will say one thing, in a CRITICAL THINKING CLASS on 9/11, we discussed what we the US should do as a response. I put forth the idea that we smoke out the bastard and cap his butt with a 9MM. I was immediately rebuked by the professor for "violence". Now correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Critical Thinking involve thinking from every angle? This political correctness is also killing the nation and schools.

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I have little to add to the discussion, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and Daerax's journal entries. I've always felt the same way about the educational system as it currently is, and it's very relaxing to see that I'm not alone. [smile]

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