DIY Education

mandela

Recently, I have been reading up on modern theories and opinions regarding education. Education is constantly changing. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Education has come a long way since the 1700’s when we were a new, small, independent country. I have taught for 8 years and every year there are new policies and procedures put in place that teachers, students, parents, principals, and administration have to adapt to. However, even though we have implemented many different things, there is still something not right. I know too many teachers, students, and parents who are unhappy with the current education system. Throughout this post I ask that you keep an open mind because nothing is ever perfect so there is always room for improvement. The question is: What is the best way to improve education?

First, I want to share a video link that I was required to view while studying with Drexel University. This video will make you think about the paradigms in education. Sir Ken Robinson is brilliant! You will not regret watching it! CLICK HERE

Next, I want to tell you about a young boy named Logan LaPlante. This young teenager has invented what he calls Hackschooling. This kid’s mother was brave enough, despite people’s objections, to withdraw hime from school at age 9 and homeschool him. He discusses his experience on TED’s stage. To listen to his amazing speech CLICK HERE. This young boy’s speech has made me think about my son’s education as well as my own. LaPlante seems so well-rounded and beyond happy. So is homeschooling the way to go? Unfortunately, many kids do not have access to such opportunities and will remain in a traditional school environment. I do believe that some people are able to be self taught and I also believe that we learn best through our experiences. LaPlante seems to have education figured out and learns from ALL his everyday experiences.  He emphasizes making a living vs. making a life.

I have also been reading A.J. Juliani’s blog. He is an educator who believes in “inquiry driven” education. He recently published a post called Let Your Students Choose Their Learning Path. He emphasizes “finding success through choice.” He has an interesting view on how we can change the public school system. This view would be great for those students whose parents are not willing to homeschool or whose parents are not supportive. However, I don’t believe his idea could ever become a reality because of all the politics in education. Leadership cares about money, data, and test scores. The educrats will never go for it.

So with people like Sir Ken Robinson and Logan LaPlante why are more people not leaving public education to pursue their own path? I thought hard about this and came up with a few answers.

1. FEAR

2. Societal Norms

3. Lack of time

It would be scary for any parent to withdraw their child from school and take control of their child’s education. It will take a lot of work! There are many unknowns on this path. Additionally, society constantly implies that going to university is the only way you will be successful. I am not trying to say that a university education is unnecessary or not valuable. However, university is not for everyone.

I thought about my education. I went to private school for grades 1-8 in Jacksonville. I went to public school from grade 8-11 in Canada. Grade 12 I moved back to Florida and because there was no data on me they stuck me in the lowest level classes. Sadly, I have see this happen to so many other students. I felt so out of place that I started having massive anxiety attacks. I legally dropped out of school to attend the alternative high school program at the local community college. The college told me that the classes I took in Canada did not meet Florida State standards. They wanted to enroll me in 10th grade classes. What?! Something is wrong with the education system. I decided it was best for me to earn my GED. I took the test a few months later and started college earlier than my friends. Ha! Looks like I was able to do a little hackschooling of my own.

I grew up in a family where there was a huge emphasis on the importance of a college education. So I got my degree. I am truly thankful to my father who gave me the tools and money to earn my degree. God only knows where I would’ve ended up without it. In fact, I didn’t appreciate school until I got to university and started taking classes that interested me. However, I will tell you that even though I majored in education a lot of my learning came from EXPERIENCES. In university I learned a lot about self discipline, public speaking, teamwork, and writing. My field experiences and my 8 years of teaching experience have taught me more than I ever expected to learn. Don’t get me wrong. I still read a lot and am constantly researching things to learn as much as I can. Reading, writing, researching, and experiences make up all of me. Even LaPlante talks about writing, but he is able to do it in a way that is best for his learning. If we organized education like Juliani suggests then maybe I would’ve appreciated school more long before university.

I have also thought about my husband’s learning path. Similarly, we grew up moving around and going to various schools. He chose not to go to university as he didn’t think it suited him. I admire his bravery and creativity. He decided to open his own graphic design business. He has had ups and downs. However, he is self taught and has learned a lot from his experiences. He has openly pursued professional development through constantly reading books pertaining to his business as well as collaborating with other people to understand how best to conduct his business. He has taken risks. He has made mistakes and learned from them. Mistakes are precious, valuable experiences that must not be taken for granted! He has had his business for over ten years! He is very successful and still willing to learn in any way he can. His business continues to flourish.

We all make a path for ourselves and it is not always traditional. I am still stumped as to how to proceed with my son’s education.  Thanks to his daddy he already has a college fund set up. Whew! Even if he goes the traditional route I hope to give him amazing experiences along the way that will help guide him to success.

Lesson Learned: Learn from your experiences and do what is right for YOU.

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