The post below is slightly adapted from a college essay from the winter of 2018.
When my family decided to start homeschooling back in 2010, we set out with the following mission statement: To bring glory to God as we seek knowledge and gain understanding; to create a learning environment that encourages inquisitiveness and a lifelong love of learning throughout our studies.
We decided to call our little school Lamad Academy, from the Hebrew root for both “to teach” and “to learn.” The Lamad Method of Learning, adapted from the Bible study program of Communion with God Ministries, inspired the philosophy through which my sister and I studied from middle school through high school.
We directed our education with the understanding that learning consists not of the memorization of facts, but of the growth of the whole person through it. The flexibility and creativity of homeschooling has achieved in me the goals of inquisitiveness and love of learning that spurred the switch from public to home school.
I believe that learning extends beyond the confines of a classroom, and that an individual subject depends on the discoveries in another. Mathematics does not function independent of history, nor literature independent of science. Rather, one leads and contributes to the next.
When one discusses the innovations of the mid-16th century taught in science class, one should also consider the impact that the Age of Exploration from history class had on this rise in scientific endeavors.
When studying differentials and integrals in math class, recognition of the history behind calculus enhances one’s appreciation for it and sheds light on its past and present usefulness.
Through one study, one more completely understands another.
Contemporary public education focuses on teaching to the test. A 100% at the top of a multiple-choice exam statistically demonstrates competence in a topic, but not necessarily absorption of or engagement with the information.
A quote from an unknown author declares, “I will not let my schooling interfere with my education”, implying a separation of the two. Indeed, a key difference divides schooling and education – the difference between the ability to spout back the accepted information and the ability to express one’s own perspective on the material.
Through my home schooled education, my mom has expressed on multiple occasions that the test score does not matter as much as my understanding of the material. An educated person is not necessarily he who achieved a 4.0 GPA, perfect SAT or ACT scores, or valedictorian status in high school, or he who graduated summa cum laude from the most prestigious university in the nation, although these measures do reflect some degree of one’s learning.
The true educated person is he who can read a text and form his own ideas about the arguments posited; who can apply past experiences and knowledge to a present circumstance; who knows how to express himself so others understand and how to hear others so that he can contribute to the conversation. This person might have the grades, standardized test scores, and graduation honors of the star student, or he might have a C average, unremarkable test scores, and a degree from a community college.
While I acknowledge the merits of traditional testing to evaluate student performance, I also realize that it does not assess the entirety of the student’s learning. For one, it especially does not demonstrate if he has digested the content enough to express his own ideas on it. Is the aim of education not to develop a student into an expressive, thoughtful individual who can contribute new ideas into the world, and not just rehash what others have already said?
Who do you think the educated person is?
Disclaimer: In writing this I by no means intend to disparage public schools or disregard the work that the public education system does for students nationwide. Students can certainly develop inquisitiveness in learning through a public school as much as through a home school. For me, homeschooling fit my learning style better and allowed this greater growth.