One of the drawbacks of being schooled in a classroom setting 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, says John Taylor Gatto in “Dumbing Us Down“, is that children have no real, active connection to the past (or the future for that matter). They are always only dwelling in the present. Always only surrounded by their own age mates for at least 13 years of formal schooling.
I have to say one of the things I love about homeschooling is that our schedule can be flexible enough to allow our children to build connections with the past.
Our dear neighbors, pictured above, asked us just this week if they could borrow our 14 year old son for some fence hole digging. They were expecting an able bodied nephew to show up at 9:00 on Monday morning and thought he and our son might be able to finish the task in one day if they worked together. Of course, we rearranged his school schedule and he was able to help get the job done.
Later that same day, our newly turned 10 year old daughter (also in the picture) walked next door, petting dogs and looking under rocks along the way, with her sketch pad to receive art lessons that she herself had inquired about. She came back telling us all about how our neighbor personally knows the family who started the HEB grocery chain.
Our family has listened to these same neighbors reminisce about life during World War II, what the very land we live on was like in the 19th century, their adventures in Saudi Arabia, and more.
All of these things have taken place during regular school hours.
I’m sure our children could read about these things in social studies books while sitting in a desk in a classroom. We could schedule art lessons at a local community college, and my son could get his exercise in an organized sports league.
But what better way to learn of the past than connecting with it?
This is education, says Gatto. Not schooling. Education.
I’ll take it.