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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Abandon kindergarten...

How very little is left of the innocent wonder and natural exploration associated with early childhood. Young children are removed from their homes and shuttled off to daycare, preschool and kindergarten at increasingly young ages.

For those of us who have chosen home education, there is an ever increasing awareness of the "teachable moment." Very few of these moments involve text books, computers or worksheets. It is the day to day interaction with the family, casual observation of the workings of the world and immersion in the faith community.

The following essay by Fr. George Rutler found on the National Review Online, is an interesting take on this very subject. While I'm not quite ready to abandon formal musical instruction by providing my children access to "musicians in one of the better cocktail lounges, or from performers in the public subways", he poses a few very cogent arguments against packaged education.

Here it is:

I'd encourage your youngest one to abandon kindergarten altogether. Almost everything I learned was learned outside the classroom, and school itself interrupted my education. Moreover, school locks you in with your peers. That is a mistake. One's social circle should never include one's equals. From my earliest years I found children uninteresting and always preferred the company of adults. This was an advantage, because I got to know lots of folks who are dead now whom I never would have known if I had waited until I was an adult. - So I have a collective memory - and oral tradition - that goes back to the eighteenth century, having spoken with people who knew people who knew people who knew people who lived then. - The only real university is the universe and a city its microcosm. That is why an expression like "New York University" is foolish. New York City is the university….Instead of school, children should spend some hours each day in hotel lobbies talking to the guests. They should spend time in restaurant kitchens and shops and garages of all kinds, learning from people who actually make the world work….One day spent roaming through a real classical church building would be the equivalent of one academic term in any of our schools, and a little time spent inconspicuously in a police station would be more informative than all the hours wasted on bogus social sciences. Formal lessons would only be required for accuracy in spelling and proficiency in public speaking, for which the public speakers in our culture are not models, and in exchange for performing some menial services a child could learn the violin, harp, and piano from musicians in one of the better cocktail lounges, or from performers in the public subways….So I urge you to keep your child out of kindergarten, because kindergarten will only lead to first grade and then the grim sequence of grade after grade begins and takes its inexorable toll on the mind born fertile but gradually numbed by the pedants who impose on the captive child the flotsam of their own infecundity.

It never ceases to amaze me, just how much the children absorb that is not associated with what we have directly accomplished in the course of a day of home education. I'm thankful to have them home and to have these "teachable moments."


scmom said...

This is why I love home schooling, and also Seton kindergarten. Less than an hour's worth of instruction and lots of play time. My husband's little nephew just started kindergarten at a Catholic day school. He's there from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. everyday (full day of K plus before and after care). What a crime! It makes me so sad to think of all of the living that little guy is missing!!

Kimberly Wasson said...

Absolutely true, Barb! Many have simply forgotten that play and everyday living are an education in and of themselves. Thank you, God, for allowing us this opportunity!