This post is not going to be funny, it’s going to be darn serious. I must admit, even though I’m a full-time optimist, the inspiration for this one came from a negative feeling I got, but I will do my best to transform it into something positive. That’s why the main point of this article will not be to criticize home schooling – because we all are free people, with different preferences, views and characters, which I truly love and appreciate, but to make it clear to you what my education meant to me, except reading books and learning pure facts.
Today I woke up in a good mood, feeling myself as the sun was shining straight into my eyes. Over breakfast I checked some of the messages I receive throughout the night and also night posts that came up in several social media that I follow. In one of the Facebook groups that I belong to, I found a following question: “Hi! Lately, I’ve been considering switching to home schooling. I’m systematic and I study even when I’m ill, so my grades have never been a problem. I don’t know how it looks like, though. Can someone make it more clear to me?” As I scrolled down to the comments box, I found a YouTube video as a response (it’s in Polish, so I’ll allow myself not to attach it here, but will also do my best do describe its content) – “A year of home schooling”. Out of pure curiosity towards everything that’s education-related, I moved onto watching it.
I don’t like going to school
The author of a video, a teenage girl was describing why she switched to home schooling, how it looked like to study at home and what she had to do to pass a year without problems. So, basically, the girl found a post online about it and got interested in the idea. Home schooling I’ll be writing about is not the one that you get when you’re sick or disabled, or anything, teachers don’t visit you to teach. It’s the one where you, out of your own preference, decide to study at home on your own, or to be taught by your parents. The girl chose home schooling, because precisely she did not fancy going to school.
She had to learn everything on her own, and afterwards make an appointment with a teacher to test her knowledge in an exam. In the video, she admits, she hasn’t been studying regularly, had she only learned quickly before the exam itself. She calls this year a vacation she took. She had time to organize YouTube, to meet her friends, to travel. A basic teenage dream come true, isn’t it?
Is this what it’s really about?
There are many ways of learning things. It’s been a long time since philosophers wandered whether it’s empirism – learning through experience or rationalism – through your common sense, now everyone is certain – it is both. And as much as studying, at its essence, meaning: learning straight facts, definitions, reading textbooks or books, etc. is rational, the school can provide to you the empirical side as well. School is not just an institution, it’s a project built by a certain group of people that work there to develop themselves. As much as you don’t want to go to school for knowledge, you indeed can build your character there.
Studying is something you can do on your own. You can open the Anatomy textbook and learn it. You can read Plato and learn his views. But creating yourself is something a lot more complex. Creating yourself is going through things, both enjoyable and annoying, to find out what you want and what you don’t. Creating yourself is working onto being you, the genuine you, no matter the environment around. And as much as I truly believe, you can learn that through travelling etc., school teaches you this at its finest.
Carol vs. humans
Since I can remember, interacting with other people was stressful to me. I can’t count all the times I’ve been rejected, told off, or insulted, or whatsoever. In kindergarten, kids didn’t want to be friends with me, because I could read well. I left kindergarten with a magical number, that not even the Romans knew for some time, meaning 0. In elementary school, kids didn’t want to be friends with me, because I always scored the highest level on tests, enjoyed reading out loud, trying to speak English, and I was generally perceived as a nerd. Again, I ended up with 0 friends. In middle school, not only had I had no friends at all, but I was truly bullied for being too active. I have all the reasons to hate school, don’t I? Each year, making a relation with someone who’s not my family has become more and more stressful and impossible to me.
In high school, I met my true friends, but I also took as a while to get to each other. There were people who wanted to bring me down, but this time I didn’t look back at them anymore. High school is when I spread my wings truly, and made a big step forward towards becoming a sociably likeable person.
As much as I can say I hated my position in all those schools, I still didn’t hate school itself. I can’t name all of the projects I was a part of, all of the contests I had a chance to participate it, all of the amazing teachers I met and adored. I learned public speaking at school, negotiating, discussing, I learned to develop my passions. I can’t name all of the books I wouldn’t have known had I not listened to my teachers so carefully. I wouldn’t have known what a real passion for knowledge is had I not looked at all those amazing authorities. And despite, the society in schools did hold me down, I cannot describe how grateful I am for both the good and the bad things that happened to me there. School taught me to be passionate, but also to be me, no matter what. I wouldn’t have learnt it had I not stayed there until the very end. This Carol, is in at least 50% school’s success in character building.
Stop asking what the school can give you
and see what you can get out of it yourself
No one will forcefully build you and educate you. To get as much as you can from school, you must notice a lot of things and think them through. You must notice, that teachers are actual human beings that cannot be replaced by educational platforms and textbooks, because their minds can do a lot more then that – if you only let them. Teachers are emotional, in the end, and as soon as they notice you’re curious and passionate, they’ll give 200% of them to teach you. You must notice, it’s always your turn. When a cool project comes up, it’s your turn to participate. When a contest comes on, it’s your turn. When a question is to be asked or answered, it’s your turn. You must also remember not to let school interfere your education – you must work for it on your own again. More books than school lectures, more passion than during school time, more practice than the theoretical system can provide to you. And last but not least – that you are here for a reason, that you are here for yourself. Fill yourself with love towards what you’re doing instead of hatred, and suddenly school becomes sunshine.
Yes, I know the system is wrong
I know the educational systems don’t work that well, there are holes in it, that need to be fixed. What we must remember is, that those systems have been created by human beings, that make mistakes to learn and improve. Maybe you’re the next one to revolutionize the system of education? The art in all this is to remember that screwing things up is sometimes necessary to work out a proper solution, to remember to work on things you can influence instead of complaining about distant stuff, and also to remember that the change can only be made if you start with yourself and your attitude.
What I think smart people are
When I was a lot younger than now, and someone told me: Carol, you are indeed a genius, you know everything, I said no. If someone right now told me the same, my response wouldn’t change. Genius isn’t someone that can be defined, it cannot be fit into any system or programme. A genius, a smart person for me, is someone who finds a connection between knowledge and creation. A genius isn’t arrogant, it’s curious. A genius always seeks more. A genius doesn’t run away from the tough. A genius craves for the company of smart people. A genius would do anything to learn.
As much as I can admit, my knowledge is pretty wide, I’m still creating myself and creating certain things. Although I know history off the top of my head, I do not know human relations perfectly, and I make mistakes. But I have the guts to screw up, to be me, to create. And this path might someday get me to the point where I’ll say to myself: Carol, you are indeed very smart.
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