Thanks to a homeschooling mentor of mine, I have been reading and re-reading this incredible article about children and education. The title is A Thousand Rivers: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning. As I gear up to do what may be a complete "school year" at home with Oliver, I feel periodically panicked and instinctively confident. My friend sent the article more than a week ago, but I opened it tonight, during a less than instinctively confident moment. I took a deep breath as I read, not so much because it confirms what I feel, instinctively, but because it's written so beautifully and is particularly persuasive. It makes sense. It deals with the madness. As my friends send their children off to four-year colleges, after a frantic year of freaking out about the process, as my own son gets ready for another grueling year in a typical Catholic high school (that he very much wants to stay in, despite my own reservations,) as Sophie is so very much "left behind" in her local public high school, I am relieved to be following my instincts -- and, most importantly, Oliver's, for another year.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
We have radically altered our own evolved species behavior by segregating children artificially in same-age peer groups instead of mixed-age communities, by compelling them to be indoors and sedentary for most of the day, by asking them to learn from text-based artificial materials instead of contextualized real-world activities, by dictating arbitrary timetables for learning rather than following the unfolding of a child’s developmental readiness. Common sense should tell us that all of this will have complex and unpredictable results. In fact, it does. While some children seem able to function in this completely artificial environment, really significant numbers of them cannot. Around the world, every day, millions and millions and millions of normal bright healthy children are labelled as failures in ways that damage them for life. And increasingly, those who cannot adapt to the artificial environment of school are diagnosed as brain-disordered and drugged.
Here's a clip from a documentary which is having screenings all over the world:
Schooling The World: The White Man's Last Burden trailer HD from lost people films on Vimeo.