The public school system we have today is a direct derivative of the Industrial Revolution and stemmed from a need to educate the children of families moving from rural areas to urban areas. Most of these children were expected to eventually become factory employees with a minimal need for higher education; reading, writing and arithmetic were the basic tenets necessary for graduation, any advanced subjects or study were reserved for wealthier children who would be attending high school and college to become doctors, lawyers, and bankers.
The goal of a public school education, in its infancy, was to teach children both the basic skills they needed to function in urban life (reading, writing letters, and basic math functions) and how to be a productive worker. This was accomplished through rote memorization, strict adherence to rules on behavior, attendance, and punctuality, and a culture of fear of authority. Children educated in this manner, the theory proposed, would grow up to be hard workers with just enough knowledge to get the job done but not enough to question processes alongside a healthy fear and respect of the corporate suits. The world has changed since the public school system was contrived, the job market has changed, our culture has changed, but the public school system, sadly, has largely remained the same.
Children in a public school setting today are still forced to memorize math facts and historical dates, are required to sit in hard chairs for several hours at a time, and are generally not encouraged to question authority. The Common Core Curriculum, recent standards adopted within the public school system, reduce education to the ability to pass standardized testing and require teachers to drill students on rote facts, strangely circuitous math processes, and speed reading rather than reading for content or pleasure. The Common Core Curriculum is teaching children that learning is not fun, that knowledge is pressure rather than power, and that school is boring. These children will not be lifelong learners, eager to explore the world and ask questions. Their curiosity is being drilled out of them by a classroom structure that labels them troublesome if they ask too many questions.
Too many public school classrooms are teaching our children that learning must occur while sitting in hard chairs listening to an adult spew words and numbers that may or may not make sense. Questions are discouraged, asking a friend for help is outlawed, and the need for movement is banned and labeled ADHD.
Imagine a world in which students were encouraged to ask questions if they didn’t understand, to dig deeper into a subject that intrigues them. Imagine a world in which a child could learn in the way he is wired, through movement and independent exploration. Imagine a world in which a child could break up the day as her body requires: bathroom breaks, snacks, and free play time on a schedule tailored to her age and abilities. The good news is, we don’t have to simply imagine this world, we can create it in our own homeschool environment.
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