I’ve been thinking and writing about polarity of late which means, of course, that I will find a lot of it. Polarity, the presence or manifestation of two opposite principles or tendencies, is similar to a dichotomy - a difference between two opposite things. The point is that everything has two expressions and an infinite scale of points between the opposite expressions. Love and hate are the same emotion but have an infinite number of degrees. That’s the way the universe is constructed.
So, it’s not a total surprise to come across in the space of two days, two dramatically different expressions of education.
First, was an intriguing feature by Ben Hewitt titled “WeDon’t Need NO Education” appearing in the September 2014 issue of Outside Magazine. As capsuled on line: We Don't Need No Education. Thanks but no thanks, say Ben Hewitt and a growing movement of unschoolers. Dissatisfied with classrooms that leave kids staring out the window all day, they want to set our little learners free. PLUS: How to rewild your child.
Unschoolers? Rewild? Hewitt chronicles how he and his wife approach the education of their two sons. Not home-schooled. “Perhaps the best way to explain it is that all unschooling is homeschooling, but not all homeschooling is unschooling.” I get that. Unschooling’s guiding philosophy is that school, especially traditional schooling, diminishes the natural love of learning inherent in all children. Traditional schooling stifles a child’s natural curiosity about everything.
Cited in the article is psychologist and author Peter Grey: “Children are forced to attend school where they are stripped of their rights...it’s like locking a child in a closet.” The Boston College professor contends “What kids need instead...is exploration and play without supervision. It is this that allows them to develop self-determination and confidence.”
Granted, the Hewitt lads romp freely on their northern Vermont farm, an environment not available to every child, but the thinking holds. “This is what I want for my sons: freedom. Not just physical freedom, but intellectual and emotional freedom from the formulaic learning that prevails in our schools.”
Ouch. Formulaic learning that prevails in our schools.
Michelle Malkin pounced on that, big time, in her August 8, 2014 column: Readin’Writin’and Social Justice Agitatin’. Watchdog for creeping statism, her lead paragraph wastes nothing: It’s back-to-school season across the country. But in an increasing number of districts, “back to school” doesn’t mean back to learning. Under the reign of social justice indoctrinators, academics are secondary to political agitation. Activism trumps achievement.
There are schools and homeschoolers all over the scale between these two approaches. The question is which one would you want for your child? Or, wish you had when you had to “go to school?” Trust the state or trust the instinct for learning?