HSF 7: Once the toes have been cut off

I read a great status update from The Libertarian Homeschooler. This is what they had to say:

“Sometimes people struggle as they try to let go of the idea that a child should know such and so by such and such age. Yes. Curriculum. Scope and sequence. It gives us a sense of control, doesn’t it? Life is safer if you’ve checked off the boxes and done what everyone says you should do. If it all goes off the rails, you were walking lockstep with the culture and so you are not to be blamed.

You are a good parent if you do it the way the culture says you should. Never mind that what the culture is producing is a hot mess. Oh…right. Hot mess. You’re walking lockstep with a culture that worships scope and sequence and curriculum and What Your First Grader Should Know and rote memorization and it is producing hot mess. So much for safety.

Why isn’t this working?

Imagine if we applied this curriculum way of thinking to shoes. At age nine months everyone wears a size nine shoe, regardless of the size of their foot. Everyone must try to succeed in their day-to-day activities–learning to walk, run, carry things, climb–in the size nine shoes. Only children who actually wear a size nine stand a chance, of course. There are very few children who fit into a size nine shoe. Those who have problems will be deemed in need of medication, remediation, or disciplinary action. Some will have the ends of their toes cut off for the sake of the shoes. Some will have their feet bound. Others will have them strapped to their feet because their feet won’t stay in them.

This is schooling. This is what following the curriculum looks like. It works for some, but not most. And it is not done with the needs and capacities of the child in mind. It is done for the ease of the adults who make the shoes and the adults who fit the shoes. It is done to the child, not for the child.

That’s why it doesn’t work. Children are aware that this is being done To them. They resent it. And we end up with a hot mess. And we wonder why.”

I have my own thought to add.

Once the toes have been cut off, and you change up the way things have been done for several years, it is hard. It is hard for the one teaching. It is hard for the one learning. Because it’s like teaching someone how to walk again, but harder. Because, I don’t always have the right words, or I can just reach out and steady him by his britches.

I don’t always know how to motivate someone that is so used to “conforming” that he struggles with the freedom. I don’t always know how to communicate effectively what I’m trying to teach him, because he’s used to 40 minute periods, 10 minute breaks and too much busy work. We have good days and bad days. I believe learning takes place all the time, and I used grocery shopping to teach the little boys to count. But I got this one as an instant addition, and he knows how to count. So, I’m being stretched and challenged to find ways to help him stretch out of the box.

I want his toes to grow back. I want him to find something he is personally passionate about. But I don’t always know where to point him because I didn’t expect him to need so much direction from me. I thought he would think freely, but he’s been taught to need directions. His toes will grow back, and he will find the shoes that fit, and I am beyond thankful to be part of this journey!

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

2 thoughts on “HSF 7: Once the toes have been cut off”

  1. As a homeschool graduate, never “went to school” till college, and now homeschool dad I can sympathize with your situation. My brother was much the same way. He liked structure and wanted to know exactly what needed to get done and by when. I wanted to know how to get out…outside, out of town, out of school work!
    Habits can be very hard to break. My two sense…turn school on its head. Take the “books” away. Tell him to find three or four places he would like to tour. (Dairy farm, machine shop, air traffic control school, horse races, symphony hall, newspaper company, etc) The sky…and the budget…are the limit. Then go to one a week. Somewhere something has to be his passion. I bet it will be on the list. Everyone has something they feel passion about surely. Tell him you want home to study his passion.
    Tell him you want him to find something he would like to spend some time doing for money, then find him an apprenticeship. I was put into an apprenticeship by my mother when I was 15. I am still doing that very thing for my occupation.
    Find a project you want done that is challenging, but fits his skill set, ask him to do it for you. Give as little instruction as possible or none at all. See what he does.
    When you’re at a point you feel it’s time show him and tell him all the ways and things he learned. Show how he used different skills during those tasks, things that are preparing him for adulthood.
    My last advise, for what it’s worth. Never forget that just the way you want to free his mind so badly to be a free thinker, some minds work best and shine brightest with structure. My brother who was taught the same way I was, though from the second grade for him, he grew up to not resemble me at all. His learning ways are polar opposite from me, he like structure and rules. I hate rules of all kinds. He likes black and white. I am very much in the gray parts of life. He is organized and detailed. I am spur of the moment and fly by the seat of my pants. He has never truly learne how to let go and enjoy. I make everything a party.
    Some people as much as we love them and want to free them, stand in the open gate looking at the green pastures of freedom and choose to stay inside the fences. That’s okay too.

    Just my two cents. =)


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