As my daughter continues to grow and learn, I’ve been thinking a lot about the education path that she will soon begin. The thought of public school or even expensive private schooling has never appealed to me. Before our daughter was even born, we (my wife and I) knew that we were going to homeschool our child(ren). The more I evaluate our current education system, look to the numerous educators in my family, and reflect on my own upbringing and education, the more I realize that not only will we homeschool, but we will No-School.
No-School is a growing trend amongst homeschoolers that is also commonly known as “unschooling.” Homeschooling has seen a recent increase in the past decade and continues to grow at a rate of 2%-8% per year, with more than 2 million children learning at home. Technology and online resources have made it easier for education to take place at the kitchen table. The counter argument to homeschooling has always been the asocial aspect of their upbringing along with home-education lacking in quality and consistency. However, statistics have shown that homeschoolers consistently perform better in standardized testing and excel further in higher education. From a social perspective, research even suggests that children educated at home are well above average in terms of emotional and psychological development.
Let me explain why this is so important to our current education system and how we continue to operate in day to day business. Our current system and the system we have implemented for decades goes directly against science. Researchers have shown over and over that reward-based systems work only in the short-term and actually lead to long-term adverse effects in drive and motivation. We know this. It’s been proven. Somehow though, we continue to implement it into nearly every institution. A “this for that” extrinsically valued system so structured that it strips us of any autonomy, inspiration, and initiative that may be left. The classroom has been infiltrated with points systems, pizza parties, certificates, and even cold hard cash. As adults, businesses continue to set benchmarked bonuses, require quotas, set unnecessary deadlines, and implement some form of a reward-based system in an effort to motivate employees. We’re stripped of any intrinsic inspiration we may have, and then wonder why we feel lost, unmotivated, and without purpose. It’s what we’ve been taught.
If you want to get deeper into this topic, I highly recommend picking up Drive, by Daniel Pink. It is fascinating and an eye-opening understanding of what motivates us. We don’t need to be incentivized to learn, to perform tasks, or to excel. It’s built into our DNA to want to discover new things, to progress, to evolve, especially when it serves a greater purpose. In God’s glorious design, we actually enjoy our ability to learn new information, get this, just for the sake of learning it. We have a deep yearning to create for the creation, perform for the performance, and yes, understand new things just for the understanding. Studies have shown, promise a child a reward for coloring, and they will do their best to give you a masterpiece. Followed immediately by a lack of motivation to ever color again, and only willing to do so if a reward is offered.
We strip our children of the beauty in their art by trying to bribe it out of them. I’m willing to bet that at this point in your life, you most likely only seek to learn new information when it is required of you. Wouldn’t it be great to love learning new information just for the learning? I sure do. That is what I intend to instill in my child. Actually, I don’t even need to, it’s already there. I just need to cultivate it, and the best way to do that is by taking school completely out of the equation.
Unschooling is the organic approach to education that allows a child’s curiosity and intuition to be the guiding factor in their curriculum. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, but children actually do like education. The assumption that children don’t, has led us to try and force one upon them. We’ve done so in a system that is less public education and more corporate boot camp. Instead of 13 weeks, it just so happens to be 13 years. Our schools take a child and require a dress code or uniform just shy of business attire, places them in an assigned seat like their very first cubicle, tells them how and when to speak, and then gives out assignments labeled as “schoolwork” and “homework”. This isn’t an education, this is preparation for the workforce. This system then tries to incentivize children to “work” through all sorts of external motivators. They will then go on to an identical corporate world that we’ve been systematically preparing them for from day one. We have robbed them of the value in education and they now demand we pay them – This for That.
In a society that is becoming more aware of the value in purpose, having an impact, and contributing to something other than themselves – we’re missing out. Personal development, self-help, whatever you want to call it, are all becoming more popular as more people discover the benefits of learning and continued growth. Young people are leaving the education system with this deep intrinsic sense of responsibility to themselves after being educated in an extrinsic system that has prepped them to head into an extrinsically motivated corporate world. We have failed them – twice. Now, I could urge and challenge educators to make drastic changes and speak out against current curriculum, but I could also remove my child from that system and cultivate the intrinsic value in learning that inherently exists. I can allow them to value education for the purpose of learning, appreciate the process of committing to mastery, and develop skills that will prove to be invaluable in their future. This isn’t a dream or hope that my child will appreciate education in this manner, it’s the research that proves it to be so and it starts at home. With that logic, I’ve come to the conclusion that it should just stay there.