Caught in a Cycle?

I’ve been reading Charlotte Mason’s School Education, and today’s reading was over Authority and Docility. Arbitrariness is often stuck in with both authority and docility. Those in authority sometimes demand those under them to do this or that, “because I said so.”  Or those who follow can also unintentionally be arbitrary followers; they do not think about what it is they are doing, they just do it. A homeschool challenge we may face is to get caught in a cycle.

What exactly is ‘arbitrary’? Googling came up with this definition: based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system; (of power or a ruling body) unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority.

I heard “Because I said so!” a lot growing up. That was THE answer for “why?” I’ll generalize a bit here before I eventually get to the gist of my post: Homeschooling families do not arbitrarily send their kids to the public schools because society says that is what they are to do. I do not assume that those same families do it out of spite either. They think about what they are told to do, what options they have for following, and they make a choice.

Even though we homeschool we can still find ourselves caught in an arbitrary cycle.

Before we actually started homeschooling I had some fixed notions about what we’d look like as a homeschooling family. Why? Because that is what all homeschoolers did/looked like! It was simply not based on solid reasoning or fact, that’s for sure. But even if one realizes that not all homeschoolers will be the same, it can be easy to fall into ‘following the homeschool crowd’.

There are plenty of ways we end up following such a cycle. Take for instance, the somewhat recent push for STEM in education. There is arguably a good basis for why the department of education would want this to be advanced: We live with a global economy that relies on advancing technology therefore it is necessary to produce citizens who excel in these fields, to perpetuate the United States as a super power.

It doesn’t seem arbitrary, does it? But, what if doing so eliminates other subject areas that may foster a more well-rounded citizen that will be able to not only work with and advance these technologies but also have personal relationships with those they interact with? What if we as homeschoolers search out activities and education opportunities for ourselves and our family that the homeschooling community, or society in general, says are important that cause us to have less time for each other, or to sacrifice our values or beliefs?

Perhaps these scenarios do not exactly fit with ‘arbitrary’ but going along with them just because that’s what someone {or a group} says we’re supposed to do is, I think. We follow one in spite of the other. How do we get out of such a cycle?

  • We need to understand why we are doing what we are doing.

Do you have a philosophy of education? If not, it’s really a good idea to put some thought on this. I did not have one for a long time and we were blown every which way for a while because of not having that foundation to start. What is the end goal? What is the ultimate purpose?

When it comes to the sports activities, music classes/lessons, or other ‘educational’ endeavors, how will they fulfill the goal that we have set for our family?

  • Cut the things we don’t need. {No matter what someone else says*.}

Perhaps there is a group or class opening up that many are saying is THE class/lesson you need to get your kids prepared for college, but it conflicts with another activity that your family feels is imperative to fulfilling the goals you’ve set. Find a different day/time to do it, or simply don’t do it.

This includes technology, the latest-and-greatest gizmos and gadgets, and apps. Is it ‘educational’ but your kids are edgy or cranky afterward? Does it help them master math problems, but meanwhile they seem to have moved backward in their writing skills? Does it take over the school day; they want to ‘learn’ on their gadgets instead of interacting with people?

If it seems this is way too simple {evaluate why and what, cut the unnecessary}, you can break down those two steps even further to help you better determine that things are beneficially, not arbitrarily, included in the homeschool. Breaking out of the cycle doesn’t have to require a long drawn-out list of pros/cons to every single decision you make, but it is so helpful to stop and think why you feel you have to, or should, do this or that. There will be things that will be in the best interest of your family to include, but then, you’ll need to look back at the first point and evaluate accordingly. There is no cookie-cutter homeschool family. {At least I hope not.}

*I am in no way suggesting going against state requirements for home educating, or against one’s spouse. Otherwise, there is no one else that has the right to dictate what you can, should, have to, or can’t do in your homeschool.

Have you found yourself caught in a cycle? How did you break out of it?

[North1]

 

North Laurel (46 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens. She holds a M. Ed. in Leadership and is the founder of the small Wildwood CM Community Co-op and is working to open Wildwood Community School. You can read her other thoughts at North Laurel's Musings.


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