Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For MY Trivial Pursuit Partner, I Choose...

Over the years, I've listened to lots of people talk about various educational paths for their child.  We ended up on the fairly radical end of the unschooling continuum, but others opt for a very rigorous formal academic program.  One program is called, "The Well Trained Mind."   When I listened to what their lives looked like and the goals they were choosing for their child, it always made me think of correlations.
  • You could dance with your family - or you could do a dance marathon.
  • You could swim and play at the pool with your kids - or you could make them train for the Olympic swim team.
  • You could go for evening walks after dinner with your family as a way to have healthy exercise incorporated into their daily routine for life - or you could train them to run in the next Boston Marathon.
  • You could read to them every night before bed, snuggling and immersing yourselves in the story - or you could create a booklist of classics and require your child to read a new one per week for years.

There's nothing wrong with The Well Trained Mind.  Just like there's nothing wrong with running the Boston marathon.  It just depends on what your goals are.  And how you want to spend your time.  And what kind of role you want to play in your child's life. 
Nurturer or Taskmaster?
Guide or Enforcer?
Model or Authoritarian?
These are all your options as a parent. 
By the quick look at the yahoo groups, it's clear that thousands of homeschooling parents disagree with me. And at the risk of saying too much or pushing too hard, I would ask these people a couple more questions.
If you find you are drawn to The Well Trained Mind, why is that?
Are you excited at the prospect of creating Super Smart Homeschoolers? 
Or do you feel learning the classics is the "correct" education? 
Do you wish you had learned this yourself? 
As parents, we have to be careful to check our egos at the door. Kids are not extensions of us. We cannot wear their accomplishments on our lapel as if they are OUR badges of honor.  And if you feel you have to outshine the neighbor's kids, think again. Someone else's kid will always do better, look better, seem better. As humans we want to compete. But resist the urge. Your child needs you to love them for who they are - not who you wish they would be. You don't really need to have that bumper sticker on the car professing your child's academic prowess.
For those looking at the "correct" education, by whose standards? And at what price? You might be interested in a peek at my idea of What Should They Learn? . It might be a little startling to those who like the Trivium. But there will be little time for these ideas if you are engaged in such a formal education at home.
If you wish you had learned it as a child, what's stopping you now? Realistically, I think this is the only answer that has any merit. If you enthusiastically take on learning  "The Classics," you will be able to share your enthusiasm with your children and they will learn a great deal of information they might not otherwise. 
Of course, all this might do is make them a really good Trivial Pursuit player.
And that would be a terrible trade-off! As a homeschooling parent, you have the opportunity to create a space for your child to love learning, to become who they were meant to be, and to get to learn and live right beside them in love and enthusiasm.  If you turn your world in to a high stress battleground, you forfeit all of that. 

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