Homeschooling is changing rapidly. Because of the growth of homeschooling popularity in the United States (and around the world), options are increasing for homeschooling families. Now, you’ve probably encountered different curricula and different philosophies or styles of homeschooling.
On The Pioneer Woman blog, Heather Sanders has a post (yes, I know Ree Drummond is the Pioneer Woman, but Heather Sanders writes for the blog – Five Different Approaches to Homescholing) in which she describes five common approaches to homeschooling – Charlotte Mason, Classical, Eclectic, Unit Studies, and Unschooling. Since that post was written four years ago, I think it’s time to update the list, don’t you?
Now, I’d probably add public school at home like K12, and you could almost certainly continue the list ad nauseum.
Lately though, I find myself embracing the idea of homeschooling as “Education Hacking.” You may have heard the word “hacking” being applied to lots of things these days. Sometimes, people refer to this as “life hacking.” According to Wikipedia:
Life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. It is arguably a modern appropriation of a gordian knot – in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in an inspired, ingenious manner.
Coined in the 1980s in hacker culture, the term became popularized in the blogosphere and is primarily used by computer experts who suffer from information overload or those with a playful curiosity in the ways they can accelerate their workflow in ways other than programming.
The terms hack, hacking, and hacker have a long history of ambiguity in the computing and geek communities, particularly within the free and open source software crowds.
I like the idea of education hacking because it blows up all the walls and all the rules and says, “Learn!” It doesn’t particularly matter how, just learn. Isn’t that what life is, anyway? You’re not going to be told how to do everything. Some things are painful – learn from them. Some things are easy and fun – Learn from them. Find what works. Dump what doesn’t.
When we train kids to sit in straight rows of desks and to speak only when called upon, and to raise their hands, and to answer the question the way the teacher or the Common Core approved curriculum textbook says, what are we teaching them? We’re teaching them that they aren’t smart enough to figure out the answer. The only authority is the government-authorized expert. If we do this long enough, they won’t know how to survive without permission. As my friend Andy Traub says, sometimes you need to take permission.
Now, I understand that kids sometimes need to sit still and listen. Believe me, my kids will attest to that fact. I just don’t want to shut down my kids’ creativity and their joy at learning something new. I don’t want my kids to ever think there’s only one authorized way to do everything. I find that logic highly flawed and somewhat tyrannical. As the late Steve Jobs said,
“When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
Now, I must take issue with Mr. Jobs on one point. Not everything we call life was made up by people. In fact, I would argue that we are only marginally involved in the most important and most precious elements of what we call life. For instance, I’m occasionally involved in making my daughter laugh, but I did not create her beautiful smile and that life-giving laugh. However, Mr. Jobs’ point is still valid. Much of what most people call life is following the rules of other flawed people. I want my children to follow God’s Spirit in becoming who He made them to be. And I don’t believe that is found in the factory we call public school.