A high school teacher sent me an email containing the the following sentence: "After working as a teacher for 8 years, I have come to the conclusion that in the learning process, 95 percent depends on the teacher, and 5 percent is everything else."
This made me think. I am taking a child-led approach in homeschooling. My DD is only K age, but I can say that in the learning process, close to 100 percent depends on her. Most of what she learned so far was initiated by her, mastered all by herself, and I'm there to answer her questions. Oh, and to buy her books about stuff she wants to learn about!
That does not mean that teachers do not have an important role to play in that process, but unless the child is interested and developmentally able to learn a certain thing, no real learning will occur. Give them something they find totally uninteresting, and they might remember it for long enough to answer test questions, but then wipe it from their brains. For one, I no longer remember all the US state capitals (I haven't lived in the US for about 15 years now, so it's just not relevant).
My role, I think, is to facilitate DD's natural learning at this point. If she wants to learn something, I teach it. If I initiate something she was not already interested in, it's possible but only if she is ready and wants to learn. I don't think I am there to pour information into her; the passive recipient. It's a two-way process, in which she plays the dominant role. I am there to offer guidance, and find fun ways of teaching her things she might not otherwise want to learn about.
So, I sent the teacher the following reply: "So according to you the child, their interests, wishes, and abilities, falls into that 5 percent? That is exactly why I am homeschooling."
Then I get back: "Where teachers had their own children in their class, it did not work out beautifully at all. An adult instructor who is not also the parent means a lot, because children learn about other versions of life, besides the one the parent is inadvertently pushing. The key is that the teacher is interested, able to recognize the child's abilities, and teaches in accordance."
Only, that does not happen in public school - the teacher might recognize the kid's needs if the kid is lucky, but in the majority of cases, will have to teach in accordance with the official curriculum and not in accordance with the child's needs. I don't push my version of life - I encourage my kids to explore and reach their own conclusions in cases where opinion matters (religion, politics come to mind).
I thought the concept of the teacher being responsible for teaching, and the child being a passive recipient, was interesting. What do you folks think about it? We are not unschooling, but so far DD is doing a better job at deciding what she wants to learn and when then I ever could. And... where does the idea that homeschoolers are only subjected to their parents' "version of life" come in? We actually have the freedom to show our kids a lot more than kids who are in a classroom all day long, and meeting a lot more adults of various persuasions because of it.
Sorry for the novel. Care to have a discussion about these points? :)