The coming of age of a youth is traditionally celebrated in Japan in a formal school ceremony but is also commonly celebrated in elaborate rites of passage the world over. From primitive hunting tribes to modern civilized societies, parents and their communities expend a great deal of effort in preparing their young to take their place in the adult world. When a child comes of age, it is normally an occasion celebrated with great pride and joy.
Recent media reports have however spotlighted the disruptive behavior or offensive demeanor of Japanese youths at local Coming of Age ceremonies. In some cases action was taken to ban such youths from attending the time-honored traditional events. That our youths neither take pride in their coming of age nor show respect for the community that organizes the ceremonies for them, sadly demonstrates that schools have failed to prepare the youths to take their place in society. (Other press reports say school and college institutions are failing to produce skilled and responsible workers for the adult workforce.)
The movie “Cider House Rules” follows the life of an orphan Homer Wells from babyhood to his passage into adulthood, and his departure from the orphanage into the real world. How Homer finds his true vocation and his relationship with his surrogate father (the orphanage director) are the focus of the movie. The latter is also a physician and apprentices Homer, teaching all the skills of his profession. He makes it a point to tell Homer, “I have taught you everything I know”.
I know of parents who have said their greatest joy was to be able to say, “I have taught you everything I know” at the end of the family’s homeschooling journey. This is the great and natural advantage of a home education, to be able to prepare your own child to take his or her place in adult society.
Parents have asked me over and over again, “How do I start homeschooling?” “Which curriculum should I use?”, “What would I teach my kids?”, “What methods should I use?” To answer the how and what questions before the WHY do we educate question would be tantamount to putting the horse before the cart. So I have suggested that parents first try to define their family’s fundamental goals (and values) of home-educating, the rhythm of their daily routines, their resources and energy levels, and then match methods and resources to their family goals and circumstances.
Without answering the WHY you homeschool question and what kind of “educated child” you are trying to raise, the education endeavor will falter at some point. By not defining your fundamental goals for education, the educational ship flounders for the lack of reference coordinates and you as captain, cannot steer the ship home.
I thought I would attempt to formulate some possible Goals for a Practical Curriculum. A practical education is one that:
1) Teaches essential and practical life skills.
Obviously, our learning goals should surpass the mere goal of passing standardized tests or college entrance exams. Most parents know from their own work experience that employers value workers who can speak and write well. Presumably this why we send our kids to school. If we are lucky enough, the schools we put our kids in will actually deliver the minimum learning goal of the three Rs, basic skills supposedly demonstrated through standardized testing. Beyond that however, if we hope to raise kids who come across as mature, confident, well-read and broad-minded then we have to look to ourselves.
If kids are bored and classroom discipline in a state of collapse likely because the lessons that take place in school are too removed from the rhythms of the real world to be relatable to our kids, too poorly delivered to seize their imagination and too outdated to be useful. But when we routinely involve children in the rhythms of family and community life they will learn useful and practical lessons regardless of whether we consciously teach them or not. Hence the saying, “it takes a whole village to raise a child”.
Most homeschooling parents have worked out along the way that they don’t have to homeschool kids the institutional way but that they can build in practical lessons and learning activities around their daily routines. The learning that takes place at home is natural, hands-on, relatable and enjoyable for the child. It is also makes for effective retention of learning since it makes use of a child’s “teachable moments”.
To illustrate, one of the things we like to do is take daily evening walks to burn off the dinner-fat. During the walks, learning for my son began with recitals of “Star Bright Star Light” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at two years of age. He could tell stars apart from planets at three. At four, he is able to draw pictures of the sun, planets in orbit, describe red and white giants, supernovas and black holes and pick out constellations such as Orion’s belt. Lessons with the father take on carpentry and engineering inclinations.
The kitchen, garden and backyard are appropriate places for learning math and science as are the road and outdoors during family travel and field trips. Few of us will raise mathematical geniuses. But all parents can ensure that our kids obtain a good grasp of the mathematical applications of budgeting, savings and investments, and even insurance and taxes. We can also offer insights on how society is run as we drive to the ballot box and our kids will probably pick up our political leanings from overheard adult conversations. How to read a newspapers and billboards, cooking, woodworking and sewing are not bad survival skills to have either. Homeschooled kids have been known to create and run their own business enterprises at an early age.
Many homeschooling families plan their lessons and related activities around children’s literature (1). The gateway to learning in our family is actually the family-oriented activity, often an outing. We organize readings and activities around the family events to cement the learning of facts, information or skills. Learning takes place naturally when kids are having quality time and fun with the family. Some call such activities field trips and excursions, we simply call it “going for a Long Explore” after the likes of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
2) Teaches children to think critically and to be creative problem-solvers.
According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are six major types of thinking skills: Knowledge (involves remembering or recalling appropriate, previously learned information to draw out factual (usually right or wrong) answers); Comprehension (grasping or understanding the meaning of informational materials.); Application (applying previously learned information (or knowledge) to new and unfamiliar situations), are more concrete thinking skills; Analysis (breaking down information into parts, or examining (and trying to understand the organizational structure of) information); Synthesis (applying prior knowledge and skills to combine elements into a pattern not clearly there before.), and Evaluation (judging or deciding according to some set of criteria, without real right or wrong answers.) require more abstraction and are known as critical thinking skills(2).
Maverick ex-teacher John Taylor Gatto in his speech “The Curriculum of Necessity (3) said:
“This type of thinking power has always been at the center of the world’s elite educational systems. Policy makers are taught to think, the rest of the mass is not, or is taught partially. We could end such a means of social control in several short generations.
Now tell the truth, don’t you wish this could happen for your own children? Don’t you wish it had happened for you? Well, it can if we abandon our puritanical fear of what might occur if it happened for everyone. What that might be I have no more idea than you do, but of one thing I am certain: it would provoke a genuine age of enlightenment in human history such as the one just barely begun by the average American citizen before the dead hand of state schooling closed the door on it.
Children who can think critically and have some privacy can generate much of their own curriculum and self-monitor, too. That is the record Ben Franklin set down so eloquently in his famous Autobiography. Time to make that required reading again”.
Japanese politicians and educators are blaming the failures of the school system on excessive rote-learning in the schools. But that is surely only half the story, for rote-learning has its proper place – especially in building basic Japanese language skills (essential for the learning of kanji, hiragana and katakana) and the absorption of a core knowledge of pure math and science facts. I see the problem as two-fold: one, the inflexible college entrance examination system, two, the culture (societal and pedagogical) which hampers the learning process and the learning environment.
A natural learning process is one that involves using all the senses and the asking of questions to test one’s premises. Inventor Paul MacCready said “The only dumb question is a question you don’t ask”. And author Douglas Wilson (4) wrote of the importance of teaching logic (the art of thinking) to our children, “It is important to get to the conclusion the right way, as well as getting to the right conclusion. It is not enough to come up with the right answer—a blind squirrel can find a nut every once and a while.” Unfortunately, the Japanese culture is not one which encourages the questioning that leads to diverse opinions since the local classroom teacher requires compliant minds and consensus to effect crowd control over the some 40 kids in her care.
Creative ability is defined (5) as a combination of these abilities:
· the ability to generate novel and interesting ideas, to make connections between things that other people don’t recognize spontaneously;
· the ability to analyze and evaluate ideas; and
· the ability to translate theory into practice and abstract ideas into practical accomplishments.
Ultimately, the educational culture of formal schooling will also end up curbing creativity. As Roger von Oech author of “A Whack On The Side Of The Head” (6) puts it:
“By the time the average person finishes college he or she will have taken over 2,000 tests, quizzes and exams. The ‘right answer’ approach becomes deeply ingrained in our thinking.
This may be fine for some mathematical problems, where there is only one right answer.
The difficulty is that most of life isn’t that way. Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers – all depending on what you are looking for.
But if you only seek one right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one”
3) Teaches kids the formation of lifelong good habits.
Good social etiquette, public speaking, elocution or conversational skills come through habitual practice and through being put in a social setting that involves people of all ages, not one comprised of solely of one’s own social peers such as that commonly found in the schoolroom. Habits of good time management are best learned when the child is given time and space enough to manage at home. Ex-teacher Gatto says public schooled kids are over-supervised and under constant surveillance at schools so that they are not able to manage their own free time for independent learning.
The great 19th century educator Charlotte Mason said, “The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children … The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time,’ and to watching ‘over those already formed.’ Mother will pick up the habit of training her children in good habits. It will get easier. Some habits children will naturally pick up through our examples. Others require training.”(7)
Most early childhood books tell us the preschool years are the best time to inculcate habits of learning, focus and concentration and that providing plenty of TV, video games and other popular distractions is detrimental to this goal. I have found it helpful to identify and choose one — and only one behavior to work on one bad habit at a time in my child, to purposefully replace it with a good habit. A great deal of patience is required when working with children and behavioural experts say it takes four to six weeks for a new habit to become second nature.
Here’s the sequence of events that I use with a child:
1. I show him how to do it and give him a reason to do it.
2. I do it with him.
3. I talk him through the process as I watch him do it.
4. He does it alone.
5. He recognizes when it needs to be done.
4) Teaches our children to fish (learn) for themselves.
For children to want to learn and to seek out answers, the learning environment must be one that nurtures, not crushes the innate curiosity and questioning minds that children display.
A useful skill we can teach our children is to learn how and where to find answers to their questions for themselves. We can teach our kids to research a topic using reference and resource materials. No one could ever learn everything about all things, but we can teach our child how to find information and interpret it. Traditional resources include: encyclopedias, dictionaries, libraries, textbooks, magazine articles,. No less important is old-fashioned legwork (conducting interviews and getting information from tutors, teachers, professionals, businesses, organizations and the phone directory). Modern day resources such as the internet, learning software, educational videos or Discovery Channel are far more interesting and up-to-date than the average textbook.
5) Teaches our kids self-understanding as well as helps them make sense of the world around them.
“Integrated curricula” or “interdisciplinary studies” are fashionable words in schools right now. What this means in plain language is that the world is full of knowledge, and we need to find the links between fields of study. But I think we overtrust the wisdom of educators when they tell us their curricula are “developmentally appropriate” and have the best prescribed scopes and sequences of learning.
After having examined several hundred school curricula (including homeschool packages) by now, I have to agree with former teacher Gatto who in his speech “The Curriculum of Necessity” said,
“Virtually nothing selected by schools as basic really is basic, virtually none of the school sequences is logically defensible. Schools teach the unrelating of everything. Take mathematics: a very great mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead, said in The Aims of Education that the way we teach math is disconnected and bewildering; you can’t learn math this way he said in some elegant language.” (8)
In the area of science, Dr Durrell Dobbins, PhD, scientist and author of a new and revolutionary homeschooling science curriculum “the Rainbow” cautions against following the typical public school’s scope and sequence (which most publishers follow) which he believes lack the continuity found in nature. He says that within a given textbook, the treatment of topics within these disciplines lacks logical arrangement as well, and that students are thus never given a logical framework for understanding how the sciences are interrelated. (9)
Gatto’s criticism of the modern school curriculum is scathing but his reasoning compelling:
“Meaning, not disconnected facts, is what sane human beings seek, and education is a set of codes for processing raw facts into meaning. Behind the patchwork quilt of school sequences, and the school obsession with facts and theories the age-old human search lies well concealed. This is harder to see in elementary school where the hierarchy of school experience seems to make better sense because the good-natured simple relationship of “let’s do this” and “let’s do that now” is just assumed to mean something and the clientele has not yet consciously discerned how little substance is behind the play and pretense.
Think of all the great natural sequences like learning to walk and learning to talk, following the progression of light from sunrise to sunset, witnessing the ancient procedures of a farm, a smithy, or a shoemaker, watching your mother prepare a Thanksgiving feast — all of the parts are in perfect harmony with each other, each action justifies itself and illuminates the past and future. School sequences aren’t like that, not inside a single class and not among the total menu of daily classes. School sequences are crazy. There is no particular reason for any of them, nothing that bears close scrutiny. Few teachers would dare to teach the tools whereby dogmas of a school or a teacher could be criticized since everything must be accepted. School subjects are learned, if they can be learned, like children learn the catechism or memorize the 39 articles of Anglicanism. I teach the un-relating of everything, an infinite fragmentation the opposite of cohesion; what I do is more related to television programming than to making a scheme of order.” (10a)
“Modern education has renounced, said Walter Lippman, the idea that the pupil must learn to understand himself, his fellow men, and the world in which he is to live; the teacher has no subject matter that even pretends to deal with the universal issues of human destiny; modern education rejects and excludes from its curriculum of necessity the whole religious tradition of the West; it abandons and neglects the whole classical heritage of the great works of great individuals; modern education is based on a denial that it is necessary to transmit from generation to generation the religious and classical culture of the Western world.” (10b)
In the Western tradition that Gatto refers to, the study of pure sciences and mathematics allows us to understand the concrete world we live in while the more esoteric but equally important disciplines of the humanities contribute to man’s self-understanding and of his one’s position in relationship with others. The original aims of studying biology and anatomy or human biology, health and nutrition, philosophy and religion in past ages were to facilitate self understanding. History was regarded as the story of mankind so that the study of it contributes to man’s understanding of his place in the world. The study of philosophy and religion helps in the quest for the meaning of life and good and evil. The study of the humanities (including art, music, religion and philosophy) deals with things important to the soul like beauty and truth. The study of history and other humanities subjects provide the individual with a construct of ideas for deriving ethical values.
However, a course of thinking about the critical issues of life need not be reserved for humanities or philosophy majors at colleges. All kids will ask the vital issues at critical points in their growth and development, how many parents are ready to guide them to search for the answers. Charlotte Mason exhorted parents to draw from the “storehouse of thought wherein we may find all he great ideas that have moved the world” and to “sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food” by introducing children directly to literature, fine art and classical music.(11)
Classical educators like Wes Callihan in his writing “Preparing Children For A Great Books Education” advocated that we build up a careful-selection of readings for our children, read to our children and dialogue and examine ideas with them (applying logic and critical thinking skills) (12). Trips to the library, museums, concerts, plays and community events also contribute to the same end.
In homeschooling circles, many parents have sort to redress the sort of disjointed learning that takes place in mainstream schools by applying Waldorf, classical and thematic (project/unit study) educational methods(13). The classical method meets the challenge of integrating information by taking history as its organizing outline, beginning with the ancient and progressing forward to the modern in history, science, literature, art and music. The unit study or thematic method organizes information around themes or literature and integrates the learning of different subjects and academic skills around them. The approach to studies of Waldorf educators is also interdisciplinary with elements similar to the foregoing methods, but which has the unique added use of eurhythmy as its integrating device for effective learning.
6) Guides our children to discern their own vocational direction.
Until the education of the masses took root in modern times, youths were, as a matter of survival and necessity, set to work as apprentices at an early age either as a matter of family tradition or luck to have been handpicked by trades/craftsmen for their discernible possession of skill or potential. Offsprings of the elite of society, barring the most decadent of the wealthy classes, were expected to eventually pursue a worthy “calling” or vocation. By contrast, many of the youths we see today, after interminably long years of schooling and rounds of examinations, are restless and aimless.
Can our children develop a sense of vocational calling by taking on the mantle of the public schoolroom teacher? In the hands of an exceptionally inspiring teacher, perhaps. But if the teacher does not support our children’s visions or guide them in determining their vocational inclinations, who will?
If you still need convincing on the importance of shaping our kids’ dreams, listen to what Dr Ballard, the explorer who found the Titanic has to say to parents:
“When I was about ten years old, my favorite book was, “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.” My hero as a little boy was Captain Nemo. I wanted to be an undersea explorer. Fortunately, when I told my parents, they didn’t laugh at me. They actually encouraged me to live my dream. My parents told me, “maybe you need to become an oceanographer if you want to become a Captain Nemo.” So I became an oceanographer. Then my parents said, “Maybe you need to become a naval officer,” and I did. I used this as my guiding principle, it allowed me to go on and live my dream. I believe all of us have dreams; all of us should try to live our dream.
I think the key is to NOT force your children to live your dream. I think that the child that does well is the one that lives their dream. To be successful you have to have a passion–you have to have a real hunger–and you can’t do it because your mom wants you to do it or your dad wants you to do it. You have to do it because you want to do it. What the parent should do is take that dream and sort of mold it and shape it and provide an avenue for it to express itself. A parent is sort-of a “helping hand,” not necessarily the “guiding light.” When a child says, “I want to do something,” try to say, “Okay, in today’s context maybe this is how you could do that.” But don’t say, “No, no, no, you don’t want to do that.” Even if it sounds silly, always say,”That’s great!” And then try to mold it. I think of children as wonderful pieces of clay. You can sculpt clay, but you can’t change it.”
“An Interview with Dr. Robert Ballard! (The Man who found the Titanic)” March 2001 by Homeschool.com (14)
But if our children are to have dreams to follow, they also need to have free time in which to dream. Thus a practical homelearning curriculum…
6) Allows our children to organize their own free time and to pursue their dream interests.
On this, I believe the Teacher of The Year Gatto has nailed it on the head so I will again quote him quite liberally (15):
“Don’t be fooled into thinking that good curriculum or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son’s or daughter’s education. All the pathologies we’ve considered come about in large measure because lessons of school prevent children keeping important appointments with themselves and with their families to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self reliance, courage, dignity, and love—and lessons in service to others, too, which are among the key lessons of home and community life.
Thirty years ago these lessons could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten up most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two income or single parent families has swallowed up most of what used to be family time as well. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.”
7) Nurtures our kids’ personal and social development.
Personal development has been defined as the process whereby an individual’s moral and aesthetic values, emotional intelligence and intellectual aptitude are nurtured to their fullest potential. Social development refers to the process by which a person becomes a good citizen, and assumes his responsibilities and obligations towards the community. Whilst intellectual aptitude might be nurtured in a school with a vibrant academic program with high standards, dedicated teachers and quality resources, a caring home environment and community are the crucible for growing turning a child into an all-rounded, mature and responsible adult.
The reason why a home education is superior to an institutional one (in terms of personal and social development) is that it does not aim at controlling the child’s behavior but its focus is on the parent-child bond and relationship.
On the importance of family, Dr John Gottman psychologist and author of the book “The Heart of Parenting” (16) wrote:
“When parents offer their children empathy and help them cope with negative feelings like anger, sadness and fear, parents build bridges of loyalty and affection.
Compliance, obedience and responsibility come from a sense of love and connectedness the children feel within their families. In this way, emotional interactions among family members become the foundation for instilling values and raising moral people. Children behave according to family standards because they understand with their hearts that good behavior is expected; that living right is all part of belonging to the clan.”
On the importance of community, Dr Gottman also wrote:
“Because we cannot be all things to our children—and especially not during adolescence—I advise parents to give their children the support of a caring community. It may be through a synagogue, a church, a school, or a neighborhood group. It may through your extended family or an informal network of friends. The point is, be sure your kids have access to offers other adults who share your ethics and ideals. These will be the people your child can rely on when he inevitably and naturally distances himself from you, but still needs guidance and support.”
On the issue of raising a morally responsible child, there is no dearth of parenting books offering advice but I like the simplicity of British educator Charlotte Mason’s. She believed even very young children could be offered two principles of moral and intellectual self-management which she called “The Way of the Will and Reason” (17) which I think deserves reprinting below:
The Way Of The Will
Children should be taught –
(a) To distinguish between ‘I want’ and ‘I will.’
(b) That the way to will effectively is to turn our thoughts from that which we desire but do not will.
(c) That the best way to turn our thoughts is to think of or do some quite different thing, entertaining or interesting.
(d) That, after a little rest in this way, the will returns to its work with new vigour. (This adjunct of the will is familiar to us as diversion, whose office it is to ease us for a time from will effort, that we may ‘will, again with added power.
The Way of The Reason
We should teach children, too, not to ‘lean’ (too confidently) ‘unto their own understanding,’ because the function of reason is, to give logical demonstration (a) of mathematical truth; and (b) of an initial idea, accepted by the will. In the former case reason is, perhaps, an infallible guide, but in the second it is not always a safe one; for whether that initial idea be right or wrong, reason will confirm it by irrefragable proofs.
Therefore children should be taught, as they become mature enough to understand such teaching, that the chief responsibility which rests on them as persons is the acceptance or rejection of initial ideas. To help them in this choice we should give them principles of conduct and a wide range of the knowledge fitted for them.
These three principles should save children from some of the loose thinking and heedless action which cause most of us to live at a lower level than we need.”
What desirable attitudes and morals are to be imparted? The list that can be offered is long and parents will make personal choices. I would like first to attempt to identify those values that might help children function within and respond to the stresses of Japanese society.
I would like see children who grow up to:
(a) Understand the value of life; that “being” is more important than “doing”, develop resilience in the face of failure so they won’t jump in front of the first oncoming train after they receive their college entrance examination slip (or having fallen into disgrace as a corporate sarrariman for that matter). We may need to teach our kids to consciously reject suicide as an option since suicide is a culturally acceptable practice(18)
(b) Develop an innate sense of what constitutes true beauty and truth as an antidote to materialism so they won’t have to resort to enjo kosai to earn that Gucci bag.
(c) Develop an inner moral compass and be able to walk away from the pornography on the shelves of the local convenience and video store.
(d) Hold strong personal ethical values by the time they enter the adult workforce. And I should hope, by the time they attend their “coming of age” ceremony, that they will have worked out that “coming of age” means taking on adult responsibilities and embracing society’s ethics and values including hard work, professionalism and honesty. From stockbrokers and managers who bring down their corporate establishments, to doctors who go on killing sprees or over-prescribe drugs to line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, to farmers who violate feeding and slaughter regulations creating world-wide epidemics that kill the young and old … are we concerned about the ethical void in our society?
(e) Develop a strong sense of justice and understand that actions bear consequences because society has a right to justice; Understand that.Emperor and humble sarrariman alike have the same responsibility to face the music (accept blame and punishment) with fortitude for wrongdoing and where appropriate be prepared to offer reparation and compensation.
(f) Develop a sense of individuality so that (hopefully) they will NOT want to wear loose socks, Burberry scarves or platform shoes when all their peers are doing so.
(g) Develop a creative attitude (as opposed to the “shoganai” one of resignation) to life’s problems. Pay heed to “Creativity is an much an attitude toward life as a matter of ability. We routinely witness creativity in young children, but it is hard to find in older children and adults because their creative potential has been suppressed by a society that encourage intellectual conformity. We begin to suppress children’s natural creativity when we expect them to color within the lines in their coloring books.” (19)
What attitudes and qualities are desirable for success as a member of the adult workforce? The following is list of “The Twenty Qualities of an Educated Person” sought after by corporations and college admission officers (20):
“The Twenty Qualities of an Educated Person”:
1. A broadly knowledgeable mind
2. Self confidence
3. A life purpose
4. A touch of class
5. Good leadership skills
6. The ability to work with a team
8. Good public speaking skills
9. Good writing skills
11 A desire for responsibility
13. A public spirit
14. The ability to work well alone
15. An eye for details
16. The ability to focus at will
18. The ability to handle pressure
20. An attractive personal style
The questionnaires were given to a number of Corporate Personnel Managers and College Admission Officers and the answers were reviewed and compiled by Gatto. Incidentally, Gatto has consistently and persuasively argued that public schools do not produce persons with such qualities. And we ought to believe him … after all he did win the 1999 award for New York City and New York State Teacher of the Year.
Allow me to quote the wisdom of John Gatto one last time:
“FAMILY is the main engine of education. If we use schooling to break children away from parents — and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850 — we’re going to continue to have the horror show we have right now. THE CURRICULUM OF FAMILY is at the heart of any good life, we’ve gotten away from that curriculum, time to return to it.”(21)
If you see eye to eye with Gatto on the above views, then you’ll agree that the educational role is a natural extension of parenting. There is really little that children (gifted or otherwise) are not capable of understanding and learning at home provided parents are patient enough to explain things in simple relatable language. It helps, of course, to know a few tricks of the teaching trade such as using visuals, hands-on projects, “multiple intelligences theory”, “learning style theory” and teaching young kids from the “concrete to the abstract”. Yet most parents abdicate their privileged role in favor of schoolroom teachers, the “professionals” in exclusive possession of the magic pedagogical formula and equipment.
I had hoped, by this essay, that parents would derive confidence to bring learning back into their homes through the knowledge that:
n One, that all essential learning cannot take place at school;
n Two, that there is plenty that the parent can teach the child and life skills and values fall naturally into the parenting domain; and
n Finally, that a self-styled home education guided by parents for the child is not all an inferior one.
previously published as “PREPARING YOUR CHILD FOR REAL LIFE: GOALS FOR A PRACTICAL EDUCATION” in HOMESCHOOLING / AFTERSCHOOLING IN JAPAN NEWSLETTER ISSUE # 17 (MARCH–APRIL 2001)
Copyright Kawagoe 2001