Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bo Sanchez on homeschooling

Do you know that Bo Sanchez advocates homeschooling? Well, now you do. And that's one more thing that's great about him. He speaks what he believes to be true, even if it's highly unconventional, and even radical.

Here's a great article about homeschooling he wrote for the Catholic Filipino Academy: Why More And More Parents Are Sending Their Kids To The Best School In The World: Their Own Home. It's very long, but it's really worth your time.

If you're new to the idea of homeschooling, it will really strike you as very radical. But if you think about it carefully, doesn't it make a lot of sense?

Someday when I'll have kids of my own, I'll homeschool them, too. I've been passionate about the idea since way back in my first course in college. I even wrote an oration piece about it in English class. I didn't actually get to deliver it to the whole class. We were short of time then, so I had to deliver it privately to my teacher, just when the semester was about to end. I felt elated when my teacher said afterwards, "That's a good food for thought".

Compulsory schooling is harmful
and does not foster real education

I wish to propose for your consideration an idea which I’m sure will appear wildly subversive. The idea in question is this: that compulsory education or compulsory schooling does not foster real education, and that it in fact is harmful to our development as human beings.

First, why do I say compulsory schooling does not foster real education?

Several famous and noted men in history – writers, artists, poets, philosophers, even scientists – have in the past spoken against compulsory education. Albert Einstein, the most well-known among them perhaps, once said, "It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by coercion and a sense of duty." Einstein recognized that this "delicate little plant," this fundamental source of a child’s capacity for growing and learning, needed freedom from compulsion and control. He believed that true learning only happens when the child is free from manipulation and compulsion, when she is left to discover and follow her own inner drives. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, two of the greatest writers in American literature, have also spoken against compulsory education in their time. They believed that mass schooling destroys a person’s individuality and his desire to learn. Mark Twain, also a great figure in American literature, once wrote, "I never let schooling interfere with my education." The great poet William Blake expressed his frustration about school in "Songs of Experience." In the poem "The Schoolboy," he wrote:

I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the skylark sings with me:
O what sweet company!

But to go to school in a summer morn, -
O it drives all joy away!
Under a cruel eye outworn,
The little ones spend the day
In sighing and dismay.

Ah then at times I drooping sit,
And spend many an anxious hour;
Nor in my book can I take delight,
Nor sit in learning's bower,
Worn through with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy
Sit in a cage and sing?
How can a child, when fears annoy,
But droop his tender wing,
And forget his youthful spring!

George Bernard Shaw, another great writer, said that education is not supposed to be the "filling of a pail," the mere transfer of information from the teacher to the student, but the "lighting of a fire," or the ignition of the child’s interest or curiosity. John Dewey and the psychologist Carl Rogers also each criticized compulsory education, they each envisioned alternatives to the modern methods of schooling. The philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell once wrote, albeit more bluntly, that "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education." These are just some of the notable men in history who have spoken against compulsory education. There are yet many others, including more contemporary ones.

One such modern thinker, a well-respected author in the field of education, is John Holt. John Holt passed away in the late 80s, but his ideas about education are still very influential today. John Holt is one of the founders of what’s called in America as the "Homeschooling" or "Unschooling" movement. It’s a growing movement of about 2 million families who believe that real education only happens when the child is left to herself, free from compulsion and control, to discover her own true interests and desires. It’s based on the philosophy that true learning only happens when it is self-directed. So children and teenagers who unschool don’t go to school, they just stay at home. They don’t follow a fixed curriculum. They just follow their own interests and desires, do the things they love; they never stop learning. Learning for them becomes indistinguishable with living. John Holt believed that children have the innate desire to learn, that they are naturally curious, that they have a natural desire to know and learn things. If left to themselves, with the trust and support of parents and other adults, if given the time and the resources, children grow up to become better learners and beautiful human beings. However, after a few more years, each child has to go to school, and for the next 16 or 17 years or so, that is to say, for the rest of his or her childhood and teenage years, he/she has to spend a great deal of his/her time, a great many hours, confined inside classrooms, detached from the natural world and real world experience. The child inside the classroom is disciplined and controlled, and as a result, his/her natural drive for learning, his/her inner curiosity, is stifled, and his/her capacity for authentic creativity is curtailed.

What follows in the succeeding years in the child’s life as a student is mere indoctrination. Education is reduced to mere transfer of information from the teacher to the student. The child is treated as a mere receptacle to be filled by information that the school or the teacher deems as important. This concept of education was first introduced by the Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Friere. He called this the "Banking" concept of education, wherein students are mere receptacles to be filled by information while the teachers act as the "experts" who deposit information to the passive students. As a result the students learn how to be passive and compliant. Then after they graduate they go out to the larger society and adjust to the present order of things instead of questioning them. They adjust to the unjust conditions of society instead of challenging and working to change them.

So in short, school really teaches passivity, conformity, and mediocrity.

Now, why do I say compulsory education is harmful to our development as human beings?

Well, because it detaches us from the bigger picture of society. It detaches us from direct experience of the real world. It gives us a fragmented view of reality. It teaches us to become passive, compliant automatons in society instead of active participators in its transformation. It teaches us to accept the status quo.

To quote John Nash in the movie "A Beautiful Mind," "Classrooms dull your mind, destroys your potential for authentic creativity."

We should not wonder, then, why, as students, we are usually so mediocre, so dull, so incapable of independent thinking and coming up with original ideas.

Also, we can take a close look at the educational system, particularly the grading system. It compares and classifies people into hierarchies. It teaches conceptions of inferiority and superiority. It teaches the values of competition instead of cooperation.

So far I have only presented the "negative side" of compulsory education. What about the "positive side"? Of course, our schools do produce competent professionals – doctors, nurses, therapists, engineers, architects, and so on. However, according to the nationalist historian Renato Constantino, these professionals are inevitably "compartmentalized" in their view and involvement in society. A compartmentalized worldview and orientation is the product of a compartmentalized kind of education wherein the student is merely fed fragmented reality. Again, this goes back to Friere’s concept of "banking" education. You cannot expect to cultivate the student’s critical faculties by treating him/her merely as a container to be filled by information and "knowledge". These professionals are inevitably only concerned with matters within their particular fields of interests, and not much on the things beyond. For example, most doctors are concerned only with their careers, and most nurses are concerned only about their own private goals, like, as is commonly the case with us, going abroad. They’re not really curious or interested about the bigger picture of society, they don’t really have that sense of involvement in the bigger problems of their community. It’s no surprise that while our schools do produce competent and capable young professionals, there are only very few among them who truly and sincerely care about the country and are sensitive and responsive to its needs.

There’s still so much that I have left unsaid. It is of course entirely up to you to agree or disagree. But you can ask yourself whether, as a student, you really feel free and liberated. Because education is supposed to liberate you and stimulate your curiosity and desire to learn new things and to grow in every aspect as a human being.


Yup, I was pretty charged then. It's funny how I now find myself in the opposite side -- I'm studying nursing and planning to go abroad!

Finally, you must watch this video: Sir Ken Robinson on TED Talks. "In this talk, he makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it."

1 comment:

Isagani X said...

Kamusta po.

Ako po si Isagani X, isang medical assistant, medical office management and general studies graduate dito sa Connecticut USA. Kagaya rin po ninyo,isa akong blogger. Health-oriented po ang aking blog at kasalukuyang naghahanap ng mga GUESTBLOGGERS o contributors.

Nais ko po sana kayong imbitahan na maging isang guestbloggers sa blog ko. Ang kailangan lang po ninyong gawin ay sumulat ng isang blog entry na related sa health. Isagawa ang patient teaching sa pamamagitan ng pagkwekwento o pagbibigay ng tips sa mga "readers."

Ito po ay isang paanyaya at boluntaryong adhikain. Hindi po ako nagbabayad sa mga contributors at hindi rin po ako nagmamadali o nagbibigay palugit. Maari po ninyong isumite ang inyong ambag na entry sa kahit anong oras na mayroon po kayo. Nauunawaan ko pong maari kayong abala sa inyong propesyon o buhay-buhay.

Kung nais po ninyong paunlakan ang aking imbitasyon heto po ang bagay na maari ninyong gawin http://isaganix.wordpress.com/how-to-guestblog-2/

Sa pamamagitan po ng proyekto kong ito, nais kong maging mas "informed" ang mga kababayan nating Filipino pagdating sa mga bagay bagay kaugnay sa medisina.

Ito po ang ilan sa halimbawa ng artikulo sa aking blog:


Manalig po kayong, makikinabang din po ang inyong blog sa pamamagitan ng guest blogging na ito. Makakakilala po kayo ng bagong readers and iba pang bloggers.

Maraming Salamat Po.

Isagani X


Kung mayroon po kayong tanong, maari po ninyo akong i message sa mga sumusunod na paraan


Salamat pong muli!

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