I was always a “smart” girl. I did very well in school, got awards, certificates, honors and accolades. I graduated in the top of my high school class and at the same time was voted most athletic female and “won” the “coaches” award.
“The recipient of this award is selected by the coaching staff and presented to the graduate who radiates outstanding dedication, athletic ability, perseverance and leadership qualities in athletics. Scholastic achievement and citizenship are also considered.”
I did everything “right”. So why am I pissed? Because I still feel like I am dumb. I feel like I am dumb because I was taught that I should know everything, all of the time. I should always have the answer to the question, otherwise I am less than I should be. I have failed. And there are a lot of the times that I don’t have the answer. Especially since I have learned to critically think since being out of the school system (and in reality there is seldom a single, concrete answer for anything…)
I was taught how do do calculations and what I needed to know to pass a test. I was taught the scientific “facts” that since have been disproved. But I was, very rarely, taught how to really, truly think. I passed advanced calculus but have no idea how to actually use it in a real world application. I passed history class but never heard the opposing view or “her”story. I was told I wasn’t good at writing and, to this day, when someone praises me for my writing I don’t believe them or I think that a “real” writer would see my flaws. All because of one high school teacher.
So where did my thinking and learning come from? Freedom. The freedom my parents gave me to discover nature, to watch programs on t.v., life, summer camp outs, family road trips, visits to museums, meeting people with opposing views to my text book education.
I thought when I followed the rules and aced the tests that I was actually smart. And worse yet, better than others who didn’t. I now realize that I wasted so much time trying to be perfect. Trying to please everyone around me. And constantly worrying that I would let someone down and become “nothing”. I have learned that success is beyond titles, money or career. Happiness, a life of purpose and joy. That is what success is.
So when people ask me why we homeschool and specifically why we unschool. Well basically it is because I am pissed. I am pissed I was taught in such a narrow minded way. I am pissed that I was just a cog in the wheel of the education system whose own self worth is based on the results of systematic testing. I am pissed that I was led to believe that I was smarter and therefore better, for some idiotic reason. I am pissed that I worried so much about grades and wasted my time memorizing calculations, dates and “facts” but had no idea how to use any of it practically. And I am pissed because that made me feel dumb and ashamed. I want better for my children.
Our children deserve to think freely. They deserve to love life and to love learning. They deserve to not have their self-worth tied up in a grade or a score. They deserve to be themselves and to not be compared to others. They deserve this because they are each unique and have a “genius” of their own. They deserve to live joyfully and squeeze the zest out of life, how they choose, in their style and on their terms. If they can do this when they are young and “figuring” out life and how it works, for them, I truly believe they will waste less time and learn more…truly learn. Not memorize facts or pass tests just because someone tells them it is important.
In a way I am thankful for my education because I got to really see the shortfalls in this style of above down, outside in education. It makes me even more confident that learning can only happen from inside out. Learning must be sparked from an inner desire to know, to understand. Forcing education doesn’t work. Facilitating a true desire to learn is the only way. In my humble opinion.