"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, January 28, 2007

When Schools No Longer Matter

If the educational genocide is allowed to continue with the reauthorization of NCLB, how long will unschooling remain a choice for just the quarter-million or so children whose parents have already opted out of the test prep chain-gangs that have replaced school? If schooling is allowed to become even more irrelevant to a humane education, who can blame parents for choosing a different path altogether?

Perhaps when the survival of schooling, itself, becomes an economic issue for the NEA and the AFT and the McGraw-Hills of the world, then we may begin to see some return to consideration of what children need in order to become adult humans, rather what the Business Roundtable believes it needs--more roboticized components of the human capital market.

A clip from the Tennessean:

. . . . Families often turn to unschooling in rejection of what they see as a one-size-fits-all school system they say crushes curiosity and creativity. Advanced children get bored waiting for classmates to catch up, while slower learners can fall between the cracks.

They also shun traditional home schooling because it follows the same mold of telling children what they need to be taught and how to learn it.

"The object of school is to make everyone come out the same. That whole concept offends me," said Chelsea Gary of Franklin, who is unschooling an 18-year-old stepson, Chris, and her other two children, ages 3 and 5. There's nothing a school system could do to persuade her to enroll them, she said.

Chris, nestled in an oversized red beanbag in his bedroom, said he hated reading until his parents pulled him out of school in California in December 2005 so he could direct his own education at home.

"I've learned more in the last year than I ever did in public school," said Chris, who spent the first few months "deschooling," getting used to his educational freedom.

A giant TV, shelves of CDs and a nearby computer loaded with video games are easy distractions in the typical teen-age bedroom. But Chris said he's not tempted because he's more interested in what he's reading, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

"Topics I don't like, I skim it," he said. "It's kind of a cool idea. I focus on things I want to use in life."

Life, he hopes, will mean either being a rock star or chef — that's why he spends the afternoons working at a Panera Bread cafe or rehearsing in a heavy metal band. He's not sure if he'll go to college.

"I want my children to grow up retaining all their creativity and interests they were born with," his stepmother said. " I can't imagine someone crushing that out of them.". . .

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