Believing That You Are Stupid

education-systemOur current education system isn’t exactly amazing, full stop.

And in the last few months of hack schooling with my oldest I’ve come to understand this reality more and more viscerally – scarily so.

As I have begun to create a customized solution for my child, both programmatically and environmentally, it’s hard to ever see us going back to a classical schooling scenario.

The Albert Einstein quote hits hard:

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.

The “standardized” testing and all of those “standard-ish” things seem even more broken now that I’ve had the chance to create a more child-specific and centric curricula, one that I’m able to pivot and change with the fluidity that is exciting and challenging and that is best suited for this particular child.

My daughter wakes up in the morning, we have breakfast together, and she will begin her assignments that I have listed out via Slack. Sometimes she does this at home and sometimes she will accompany me to my office where she’ll do her assignments there. We use Slack to communicate regardless of location and she’ll post her thoughts, questions, and completed assignments so that I can read, review, and dialogue about them.

The assignments, and their length, are subject to change constantly and there is “Free Time” slotted in so that she can rest and do other things in between activities. She typically plays games or watches Power Rangers. She may read a book (or comic – I recently bought the “full run” of Stan Lee’s X-Men).

But the magic isn’t in the scheduling or the heavy use of online tools and technology that facilitate her learning. Instead, it’s the open opportunity to constantly refine, to adjust, to change the approach so that the activities are both educational and engaging. If something’s not working or doesn’t have the intended effect, then we change it. Period.

This may even go for length of study, environment, time blocks, and, of course, content. There’s nothing sacred about our approach. No dogma. I’m working, in almost collaboration with my daughter, to find an ever-changing solution. She may not think that way but I do at least. The science (and art) is in the observation.

I imagine that many parents (us included!) may simply not have the time or the patience and thus the standardization techniques must be an unfortunate replacement. We are also blessed and fortunate to have my working environment and situation where I can lead homeschool. I do not take that for granted.

My oldest struggles, like many children, with self-confidence. She’s encountered a lot in school that made her feel “dumb” and “stupid” (her words). She’s not, not even close.

But having her climb that metaphorical “tree” every single day when she’s not equipped to do it that way is anything but fair. Her emotional response isn’t all that surprising.

Since we’ve started hacking school she hasn’t said those words once.