Education, in my opinion, is about learning to interpret events and experiences in an increasingly mature and wise way. To do this, you must know things — that is, accumulate knowledge and experience. And you must understand things — that is, accumulate insight and wisdom.
Does this happen in school? What meaningful knowledge did your child accumulate in school last year? What insight or wisdom did he gain? In what way did he come to better understand the world so that he’ll one day be able to contribute to its improvement?
Another way of looking at it is this: In what way did school help your child mature in the last year? Did she become better able to judge the claims of science? Better equipped to interpret the motives of politicians and leaders? More acclimated to interacting with people of many ages and backgrounds? More thoughtful in expressing her views on issues or past events? More willing to go the distance in gaining understanding and insight? More tempered in her reactions and conclusions about people and events? More eager to search out learning and understanding on her own? More moral, more self-directed, kinder, more giving, more… whatever you consider a mark of maturity?
In what way has school prepared your child for a meaningful life? Has it fitted him for servitude and obedience or for independence and leadership? For creativity or consumption? For problem-solving or resignation? For acting or being acted upon?
What is the purpose of education? Before we can possibly know what education should look like we must know the end result we wish.
What is the end result you want from your children’s education? And with that in mind, what do you think is the best way to get there?
Tammy Drennan is a veteran homeschooler with two grown sons. She has helped many hundreds of families start homeschooling and is a defender of free market education. You can find her work at www.educationconversation.wordpress.com and www.homeschoolstarter.com.