When I talk to people about our educational philosophy, the most common response is: “what about the children’s social development?”. There are at least two assumptions behind that question:
1. Children cannot socialise outside of school
2. Children need to be exposed to a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and points of view in order to develop a critical mind
I tend to agree with the second assumption, although I don’t see how it is an argument against home schooling or natural learning. Children in traditional schools with such variety of students still tend to associate with those who are most like them, and develop prejudices against others.
The first assumption, however, is mostly false. Children who are not burdened with up to 40 hours of weekly school attendance and homework have much more time to socialise and be exposed to diversity (especially in age). Their main problem is that most other children have been abducted from their neighborhoods, and are too busy with schooling!
It wasn’t that long ago that children’s education was mostly the domain of the family and the community. My views are aligning themselves progressively with those of Peter Block and John McKnight. If you haven’t read their book or visited their website yet, now would be a good time to start 🙂
I believe that families and communities must rediscover their power and responsibility to successfully prepare their children for the future, and stop outsourcing this essential duty to schooling institutions.
This shift entails radical and uncomfortable changes for parents. It means letting go of the consumer way of life, the ever-increasing standard of (comfortable) living, and the self-serving but never-satisfying aspirations idealised by our individualistic society.
Nothing short of this shift can fully loosen the grip that institutions have obtained over our children’s future. Many people stand to lose money, prestige or even livelihood from such a change, but many more, a hundred thousand times more, will benefit in ways that we can only barely imagine.
I’ll stop now before I get completely sidetracked from the original topic!