What is Homeschooling?
D says, "Why did you photograph that? It isn't very good. The man isn't right."
I think it's good though. He's not a stick man - that's progress. I love that D added many details - the leaves of the tree, the splotchy camouflage, the bunched pants above the boots. I love that the ground isn't flat and that the soldier even has a granade. This drawing isn't "perfect" but it's improvement and it shows attention to detail. This was D's narration after reading about the Vietnam War in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. She already knew about the war; my kids watch the Military Channel as much as most kids watch cartoons so D knows as much about the conflict as most Baby Boomers who lived it.
In a regular school, she wouldn't have made this drawing. I would have given her a multiple-choice quiz or a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. She'd have been made to spout rote facts: military advisers, Communists, Nixon, Agent Orange, Tet Offensive, Saigon, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, Ho Chi Minh, April 30, 1975. Rote facts are important but they aren't everything. An education is something more. It's about taking what you have learned and applying it to real life. It doesn't mean a thing if a child can score a hundred on a test but she can't remember the facts the day after the test and never uses what she's learned to improve her life. I know D has learned about the Vietnam War because she drew this picture, because she can discuss the conflict and understand it, and because she can apply its lessons in her own life. I see more of D's growth in this drawing, in our conversations, and in her use of military strategy on the playground than I could ever find in a multiple-choice test.
Education isn't about perfection; it's about constant progress towards something better and seeing things we missed before. It's about thinking outside of the box and using learned lessons for self-improvement.
And that's what homeschooling is to me.