The ABCs of Homeschooling - Letter I

    I love indoor plants.  You'll find them in virtually every room of my house, even though I have few good window sills.  Some are hanging.  Some are in "gardens" with other plants.  Some are sitting on shelves, and others directly on the floor.
   When you buy decorative plants in the store, most will have the name and instructions about how to care for the plant.  Generally, I ignore that.  Why?  Because as much as I love indoor plants, I'm too lazy to care for them properly.  You see, I just treat them, with the exception of my bamboo plants that live in water, esentially, all the same.  Though some get more sunshine than others, that is more coincidence than planning around the plant's need for sun.  As for watering, that is pretty uniform too, in spite of the fact that some plants need more moisture than others.
    Can you guess the result of this "care" of my plants?  Well, here is what happens; some are either very hardy, or just lucky enough to get the right amount of sun and water.  Others die almost immediately.  Many, though, die a slow death.  The leaves will start to turn yellow or brown.  Then, perhaps a part of the plant will die, and finally, it goes out to the garbage.  I am constantly replacing plants for this reason.  I find plants on clearance or buy them from yard sales, generally, so it is not a major expense.
    Do you know of what this reminds me?  It reminds me of the public school.  They, for the most part, have a one size fits all mentality.  For some kids, it works fine, academically, at least.  Others clearly are not cut out for the system.  It may not be noticeable at first, but slowly, they begin to fall behind in one subject or another.  Perhaps, they're just pushed along, like I was, in algebra, geometry, and chemistry, because, after all, they do well in some subjects. Still others, are hopelessly lost.  School becomes something that reminds them of their inadequacies, day in and day out.  For some, they are frustrated and bored and this comes out in behaviior problems. And in the end, some don't even graduate.
   Today's I word is individuality.  If we return to the roots of education in America, we find that the colonists first educated  "by the traditional English methods of family,church, community, and apprenticeship"  (Wikipedia). Starting in the 18th century, "common schools" appeared. This was the one room school of which, I think, we are all familiar - one teacher, plus children of all ages.By the middle of the 19th century, children moved from primarily being the responsibility of the parents to being the responsibility of the schools. Individuality was lost at this point.
   Just as we became an industrial nation, replacing homemade and handcrafted items with mass produced ones, so our children became cogs in the machinery of education. More and more, individuality was discouraged.  Creativity, ingenuity, and critical thinking were squashed so that each "prong", "pinion" and "tine" were identical.
   My son, Joshua, was both homeschooled and spent time in public school.  In homeschool he flourished.  In public school, he did nothing of the sort.  Intelligence was not the problem.  Neither was a love of learning.  He just didn't do well with the "system".
   I, for one, like the English system.  Whether family, church, community, and apprenticeship are supposed to be the order of priorities, or not, I am unsure. But, in any case, I think, it was precisely, though unwittingly, used by us.  Notice, the word "school" doesn't even exist in this schematic, and perhaps, I like that best.  Because, at least in our home, it is not a private entity.  If I were to modify this list at all, it would be to put God at the forefront, rather than include the word  school. Here, we are individuals, first and foremost.  Each of us is a unique creation of God, a work of art, if you will, lovingly planned and designed.
  One of my major problems with public school, and there are many, is that, not only is this fact not acknowledged, it is, at the very least excluded, and at the very most, refuted. Is it any wonder then, that individuality is generally completely eclipsed in the schools?  I is for individuality.  Homeschooling has restored this wonderful, God inspired component. I believe this gladdens the heart of our Creator God.


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