To augment Georg’s post containing the Feynman quote, I present (what I believe to be) the key point made within an excerpt entitled ‘School Is Bad For Children’, from John Holt’s book, ‘The Underachieving School’.
In the same way, kids learning to do all the other things they learn without adult teachers – to walk, run, climb, whistle, ride a bike, skate, play games, jump rope – compare their own performance with what more skilled people do, and slowly make the needed changes. But in school we never give a child a chance to detect his mistakes, let alone correct them. We do it all for him. We act as if we thought he would never notice a mistake unless it was pointed out to him, or correct it unless he was made to. Soon he becomes dependent on the expert. We should let him do it himself. Let him figure out what this word says, what is the answer to that problem, whether this is a good way of saying or doing this or that.
There isn’t a question that goes un-asked around here. There isn’t a fixed spot wherein the kids must sit (although they prefer the dinette area where the sun shines warm in the morning). There isn’t peer pressure confining their personal actions to some expected norm, outside the realm of universal manners. There isn’t one way to pursue knowledge, and there isn’t much help from Mom & Dad.
They do the work. They do the learning – sometimes fast, sometimes slow. They use whatever references they choose. Learning is autodidactic and the sooner a child gets a feel for it, the better. They’re at the upper ninetieth percentiles of their classes. In my eyes, they’re just average kids.
Me? I hover. I print things. I buy their school books and take them to the library. I solve disputes. I attend to wounds. I resist the urge to help them by believing in them, but never stop searching for answers with them. I discuss things and ask their opinions on science, history, reading books, music, etc. I watch them grow and wish I could slow them down a bit. They’re their own experts developing their expertise with the help of their Mom & Dad, and their neighbors, and their community.
As a parent, it’s nice to be needed. It’s even nicer when I am not… something I learned in homeschool.