DSM: one more thought on SV model and home schooling


Joseph Moore (joseph@ivorycc.com)
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 15:11:33 -0700


Just personal experience, not a generalization:

Meeting my first few batches of real live home schooled kids a few years ago
lead me to start questioning the premises of public education, namely, that
these kids certainly didn't seem any the worse for not having spent years in
a desk, and many (heck, ALL in my nonscientific sample) seemed more
comfortable around adults, more well spoken, and more friendly than any
traditionally schooled kids I'd ever known. YMMV.

Next, the thing that finally pushed me fully into the SV model camp was a
visit my then 5 year old son and I took to Sacramento Valley School. A group
of teenagers was woodcarving out front, and they not only acknowledged our
existence, they were actually polite and solicitous. The first person who
greeted us when we went in the door was a girl of 7 or 8, who looked me
straight in the eye and asked if I needed any help. My son was welcomed into
a group of kids of wide ages who were doing some art project or other.
Everyone we spoke with that day was articulate and thoughtful - I took that
as a sign that essential education was in fact taking place.

The stress level was low, the friendliness and civility were high, and
relations between people of various ages and interests were very
comfortable. I wanted this for my kids.

Now, my personal belief is that any parent worth the name is 'home
schooling' regardless of where he or she sends the kids during the day. No
'model' is going to replace a loving and interested adult in the life of a
kid, and it is the exceptional child who comes out whole without having been
part of a real home and family for at least some portion of their childhood.
I'm not some 'family values' nut - I hope I'm just stating the obvious: it's
easier to grow up whole when there's a consistent caring group of grown ups
showing the way.

That said, what do you want out of a school? I wanted a place where my kids
would be treated with respect - no raising your hand just to go to the
bathroom, no bells to derail your train of thought, no condescending adults
micromanaging your every moment. I wanted my kids to get a chance to hang
out with interesting people of their own choosing and not be age segregated
for the convenience of some bureaucrat somewhere. And I wanted my kids to
get a chance to exercise their own minds and wills in a democratic
community, instead of being treated like criminals until they were 18, at
which time some miraculous 'good citizen' gene would presumably kick in and
make them 'responsible' adults. Or doesn't it work that way?

No reading classes? Doesn't matter. My wife and I read to the kids, it'll
happen when it happens.

No math classes? Doesn't matter. We cook and are building a treehouse
together, so numbers and measuring come up all the time. It'll happen.

No 'socialization'? This does matter, especially after reading a bit of what
Horace Mann and his ilk had in mind, basically turning us poor folk into
good factory workers who don't steal from their betters. Screw that. How
about just learning to tolerate other's differences, and learning how to get
along in a diverse group of people?

While I get a bit rabid in support of the SV model, I'm not naive enough to
expect it to solve all the worlds problems. Too much else has to change as
well. But it's a great place to start!

Cheers!
Joseph Moore



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