Thursday, February 2, 2012

DIY Education

"They raise chickens. They grow vegetables. They knit. Now a new generation of urban parents is even teaching their own kids."

OK, ok... I'll admit I've been known to grow a tomato or 2 (thousand), and well, there's no denying I knit obsessively --- but so far, no chickens.  Admittedly, I hang out with people who raise chickens -- but still.  So I guess I fit the above stereotype, sort of.  I most definitely don't live in an urban area and really, technically, tomatoes are fruit.  But, I teach my own kids and wouldn't have it any other way.

The above quote is from this week's Newsweek article on homeschooling entitled "Why Urban, Educated Parents are Turning to DIY Education."  Apparently, the powers that be are starting to notice... took em long enough.  

But, just as I only "sort of" fit the stereotype, I find that most homeschoolers I know are equally hard to pin down.  The closest pigeon hole you could probably stuff most of us into might be the "Do It Yourself" mentality.  The idea of handing my kids over to a school bureaucracy sounds like crazy-talk to me.  I'm far better equipped to know what my kids need and if I can't provide it myself, I can find people who can.  

So, for example,  I've got liberal arts subjects covered (in these areas, my education generally trumps most teachers -- so I have no insecurities there).  Science and math (above the elementary levels).... not so much.  But, so what?  I don't have to be master of all -- I just need to recognize the need.  Happily, my daughters are tutored in math by my stepfather (a retired HS math teacher), but even if I didn't have that connection, online math tutoring is readily available.  For science, my kids take classes as at a nearby learning center for homeschoolers (where I teach writing) and that serves the dual purpose of helping me cover areas of science I know little or nothing about (they start a marine biology class this Monday) and of providing a social outlet where they have a chance to learn in a group setting.  We go to a park day with the same group of kids and even camp with them each summer by the beach.  My kids love art and theater as well, so they also take art/drama at the learning center and are involved in a musical theater group.  Homeschoolers, at least the ones I'm around, aren't home often.  The world becomes our school and in my opinion makes homeschooled kids far more "socialized" than kids stuck in a classroom all day.  

But my point is, homeschoolers find creative and original ways to meet their kids' needs.  The defining point about them, if there is one, is that they each do it in unique ways.  We're hard to categorize because kids can't be stuffed into a "one size fits all" or even "one size fits most," style of education (and really no kid should be).  I suppose it would be simpler if we could streamline it all and make education resemble a factory-line.  But assembling widgets and assembling the needs of individuals are far different things.  It's time people began to re-think education and I think the evolution of the internet has sparked a mighty change in our educational paradigm.  The trend IS toward DIY Education and I'm happy that Newsweek noticed.  I think a revolution is afoot.

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