I’ve been enjoying reading a lot of homeschooling blogs lately, both Waldorf inspired and others. I’ve always tried to hold the possibility of homeschooling my children, at the same time that I have major doubts. I believe these thoughts started a few years ago when a close friend and Waldorf-inspired daycare provider chose to take her son out of Waldorf school. She felt that he was being pressured to read in an unhealthy way–which is not really indicative of the Waldorf curriculum in general, but more likely of his particular teacher.
She chose to unschool him, meaning they did not use any particular curriculum. They had ample opportunities for informal learning: for example, they had farm animals, Dad was an engineer and loved to build things and tinker, Mom was an accomplished singer, and the boy was old enough to go fishing on the river by himself.
From the beginning, there was purpose behind forced schooling, purpose which had nothing to do with what parents, kids, or communities wanted. Instead, this grand purpose was forged out of what a highly centralized corporate economy and system of finance bent on internationalizing itself was thought to need; that, and what a strong, centralized political state needed, too. School was looked upon from the first decade of the twentieth century as a branch of industry and a tool of governance. For a considerable time, probably provoked by a climate of official anger and contempt directed against immigrants in the greatest displacement of people in history, social managers of schooling were remarkably candid about what they were doing. In a speech he gave before businessmen prior to the First World War, [US President] Woodrow Wilson made this unabashed disclosure:
“We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
A hierarchical system of attained levels of education is conducive not only to the reproduction of a social hierarchy but also attuned to economic hierarchies related to expertise and manpower needs for a developing division of labor in an emerging industrial economy. Together these features function to satisfy the role that the education system plays in socializing individuals to become loyal citizens and disciplined workers in modern nation-states. Just as the state legitimizes the education hierarchy, the education hierarchy lends legitimacy to the state and other hierarchies—political, economic, social, and cultural. (emphasis mine)
This also reminds me of what ElsieDeluxe has written about how she homeschools her sons:
[In schools] they’re just learning that somebody out there has a notion about what they should be doing all day, and they must sit still for it.
But I’m not sure that learning to sit quietly for many hours at a desk is what some or even most kids really need. Certainly it fit my temperament as a child; I loved school, loved to sit still and read, and even played school at home. But I’d like my kids to be a little more involved with the world at large, to be physically active, to be artistic and musical, and to love not only book learning but life learning.
With at least of bit of the old “Question Authority” mentality mixed in, if only to free up their mental patterns (at this point I’m not quite ready for them to question my authority yet, thanks!)