My husband shared this with me, that school was for him a misery.
He is a physicist, a brilliant man, inventor, scholar, lover of books (especially science fiction) and a do-er in addition to being a sensitive observer of life. He spent time as a journeyman millwright, builder of log cabins, and later went to college and earned his basic degree in physics, and a PhD for his original work on a laser application.
He told me that at age 6, learning that he was to go to school, he spent his last three days of freedom outdoors visiting each of his places of learning. The pond where he had been studying the life cycles of the pond insects and would now be forced to miss the rest of the cycle he had been so carefully following, and it took three days to say goodbye to the freedom to learn and explore the world on his own. He said he did this because he knew that being in school was going to restrict his access to the world, slow down his learning and suppress the higher level aspects of not just his education but his life.
He was not against adults helping children become educated but classroom based schooling (rigid in progression) is not conducive to a child’s natural flow of learning which is neither rigid nor the same for any two children.
My hubby’s dream ideal even as a child, for help to his natural learning, was access to adults who would talk with him and discuss what he had learned, answer his questions and maybe make suggestions for directions he could consider. He dreamed of access to knowledge and the freedom to learn it for himself.
That this child of so many years ago sorrowfully visited his learning places to say goodbye because his learning was going to be interrupted for the next 12 years grieves me. His pain is evident even these many years later. I wish he could have had a different childhood education. Imagine, with what he has accomplished, how much more he might have done had he been given an education that fit his actual needs. This is what home school does: it fits the methods to the child and frees the child up to follow his or her own interests on the way to mastering all the skills needed for life.
I am a devoted John Holt style educator, and proponent of child directed learning. As a learner, I gained most of my education in situations where I chose the materials and methods; as a teacher I feel sick over the difference between the ideals of education and classroom realities. As a Catholic, I believe that the best education in the faith will be done by parents who understand and live the faith and that the best method will be home education (perhaps not the only method, but the BEST). Guiding the education of our children is an essential part of our vocation as parents.
Our children will not be oppressed but will learn far more through the freedom to exercise their own interests and gentle parental guidance through conversation, listening, answering questions, sharing books and exploring the world. May the learning never cease.