For me being a homeschooling parent, having finished “normal” school, it’s important and interesting to get feedback from people who’ve been “on the other side”. So when Jo made a comment on my blog about being homeschooled I immediately asked her if she would be willing to share her experience, her thoughts on my blog. I truly enjoyed reading Jo’s first guest post. A fantastic take on what teaching and learning is all about, if you’d ask me…
I’m very happy to welcome Jo, blogging at Jo Robin Blog, here as one of my guest bloggers and I can’t wait to read her series of guest posts. Please head over and check out her great blog where she shares her life as a college student and so much more…
(4.3 minute read)
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to teach your kids. Rocket science isn’t even a standard K-12 subject (although if anyone studied rocket science in grades K-12, it would be the homeschoolers). My point is, you don’t need to be a “teacher” to teach. You don’t have to be an expert on every subject in order to teach every subject. This is something I know a lot of parents worry about when deciding whether to homeschool, and I think it’s a concern that starts with an error in how we understand the act of teaching.
The misconception is that a student needs to be taught–that a student needs to be on the receiving end of teaching. I can’t even remember the last time my mom taught me a subject; I was given a stack of books, a schedule, and a set of expectations I was told to live up to. If I didn’t understand something, I was encouraged to do additional research and figure it out, and if that didn’t work I could ask my mom for help… but even then, she didn’t teach me. Or, rather, she taught me how to teach myself. She facilitated teaching. And when I did need help with something, she was there learning with me–latin (which she never studied prior to our homeschooling adventures), biology, history, you name it.
Don’t get me wrong, parents can teach. They can memorize information, explain it to their children, add their own insights, and that is perfectly fine and productive. It just isn’t necessary.
There are a lot of long-term benefits to learning the homeschool way. If I hadn’t developed the study skills necessary to teach myself, I know I would not have graduated from community college with a 4.00 GPA. Looking back, I realize I was wired to know that anything I learned would be learned not because my teacher taught it to me, but because I spent hours pouring over the class material and then brought questions to my teacher after the fact, just like I did with my mom all those years. If I failed, it wasn’t my teacher’s fault, it was my own.
I was also prepared for research papers, which tend to make up remarkable fractions of a total grade. If I didn’t understand something, I was conditioned to look for additional learning material before asking to be spoon-fed information. I knew how to find resources, how to find what I was looking for within those resources, and how to have the patience and discipline to complete both of those tasks.
One other advantage I’ll mention is that I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and also wasn’t incapable of thinking of them in the first place; I wasn’t afraid to admit I didn’t know something, because that was the only way I ever came to know anything. During my brief, nightmarish two years sitting in a private school classroom, what I was taught is this: sit down, and shut up. Most classroom settings, including the classroom at the community college, cultivate this attitude that asking questions is disruptive and robs valuable time from your classmates. However, after seven or so years of homeschooling, that mentality had been completely wiped from my mind and I was the fearless, question-asking, classroom annoyance students are supposed to be.
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