Many people would title my education as “Unschooling”. As a home school student, I have had the opportunity to explore topics and areas of life that would never show up on a graded test.
The only reason I learned how to read was to gain knowledge through books on topics I enjoyed. The only reason I studied math was to enable me to create the things I was interested in. And the only reason I learned to write was to share these amazing treasures with the world. Growing up, there were no tests because life is the test.
My mother, being the pure genius that she is, taught me how to read and then led me to her vast library of books and told me to learn. When I would come to a problem or a question throughout my pursuit, she was always there to help, but the journey was mine to navigate.
As a result of this, each of my sibling’s education looks vastly different than the others. My brother is a wiz when it comes to math and has a love for agriculture and wildlife development. My sister lives and breaths to capture beauty and has started her own photography business at the age of 15. And I have poured my heart and soul into the love of self-expression through the arts and the use of written and spoken words.
As stated in his TED talk by the title of Do Schools kill Creativity, Sir Ken Robinson makes the statement that “ It is education that is meant to lead us into this future that we cannot yet grasp.”
The thing about the future is that no one knows what it holds. We can make our best guess, and yes the actions we perform today have a great impact on tomorrow, but we still know nothing of what the future will hold. Yet, we educate our children as if the future will never change. As if all they will need to know are the same skills needed during the Industrial Revolution when education was created solely to enable one to get a job. The reality of today is that a degree will not guarantee you a place in the work field as it once did.
Ken Robinson observes that the education system begins by teaching children from the waist up, then focuses on their heads, and finally leans solely to one side. It is this form of learning that is educating children out of creativity. “By the time children become adults they have had [creativity] beaten out of them as schools, and later on business graft in their minds that mistakes are the worst things they can make.”
As Picasso once said, “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as you grow up.”
What if instead of structuring our schools on the mindset of funneling students into college and producing university professors, we instead gave children the necessary tools to gain knowledge and then allowed them to nurture their God-given dreams, interests, and talents. If my mother would have forced me to learn the same way my brother did I would not only have failed when measured up to him, but I also would have lost the wonder and splendor of sharing my hopes, dreams, and ambitions with the world.
No two children are the same, and yet we expect them all to learn the exact same way. I believe that it is time that we look at the system in which our children and grandchildren will be growing up in and compare it to the real world. After all, it matters little what grade you earned on a test, when life itself is the test.