Friday, February 3, 2017

Encouraging words from top scientists on homeschooling when the chips are down


Encouraging words from top scientists on homeschooling when the chips are down



The really big science questions need problem solvers. They need kids who are curious and who question, and particularly question authority including your authority as a parent. Granted, these kids are not the easiest kids to parent (i.e. they often question your authority as a parent!) and at times homeschooling them can feel like a drag.  But these kids are often gifted/2e and being home educated because: 1) they are gifted and may have special needs, 2) are not followers or necessarily compliant with a teacher or a school.


I'll be frank and honest here.  For those of us who are the liberal, latte sipping type and/or who believe in science, evolution, and the big bang, the stakes never seemed higher.  The recent political upheavals with Brexit in the UK and then with the US presidential elections can make things seem rather grim.  The state of education and the direction things are going in terms of education is disconcerting.  One has only to read the headlines on Common Dreams or other news outlets to get a sense of the alarm and despair within the scientific community and for the state of education.  And it doesn't take many negatively slanted stories on homeschooling (ie. the Feb 2nd Mirror article on the mother who lets her children play video games all day) to make an A type personality parent question or doubt their abilities to home educate and provide an education for their gifted/2e child/ren.

  1. Children are full of questions
  2. Sadly, by fifth grade, many children curtail their questioning
  3. Schools tend to foster submission to authority and not support endless questioning

As the above images sum up so beautifully, children are full of questions!  Generally speaking, schools tend not to foster children who question ad nauseum.  And yet, if we want a generation of scientists and people to solve the really big science questions and those facing the world today, we need children to be curious and ask lots of questions!

From time to time, I foster this questioning and ignite my son's passions by taking my 2e 11-year-old to science lectures, events, and activities that are free to attend and open to the public.  I am not the only homeschooling parent to do so.  The Washington Post recently reported on Romanieo Golphin Sr. who took his 7-year-old to CERN and university lectures, but there are countless home educators who do so as well.

Last Saturday, I took my son to Oxford University's annual Stargazing event, which was free and open to the public.  I spoke to some scientists there.  One conversation was particularly striking and worth retelling.

Here is what a scientist confided to me:

1) "Homeschooling is becoming more and more the best means to obtain a proper education in science; in some instances it is the only means; and

2) No one has an excuse in not obtaining quality education in science today with the amount of MOOCs" (edX, Coursera, Future Learn, World Science U, Isaac Physics and MIT OpenCourseWare to name a few) -- which are freely available online.

These are encouraging words from a top scientist on homeschooling when the chips are down!  Take heart.  This was not the sole occasion that I heard these points made about obtaining a quality education in science with homeschooling today.  Far from it.  Similar words have been uttered elsewhere in the UK and in the US.

Every time you feel a bit deflated, reach out to a wider community (whatever that may be). Follow your gifted/2e child's passions.  Ask questions.  Listen.  Take heart.  Reassure any nagging doubts on home educating.  Press your control-alt-delete to rekindle the flames and restore your faith in educating your gifted/2e child/ren.


This is part of the Gifted Homeschooling Forum's blog hop: When homeschooling your gifted child becomes a drag: my best tips.  For more on GHF's blog hops from around the world, see:  http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/.  For more of GHF's blog hop topics, see: http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/blogs/blog-hop/.




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9 comments:

  1. What an interesting conversation you had with that Oxford scientist! I sometimes find myself wishing my kids didn't come out with QUITE so many questions and comments (usually when I can't get through more than a sentence at a time of a read aloud) but as you point out, at least they're asking the right kind!

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    1. Thanks so much Lucinda. Yes, very interesting conversation and one I thought needed to be broadcast, especially after the Mirror article. Absolutely yes on the question front with ds!

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    2. YES! It's the endless questions that tire me out. :)

      Thank you for this post Carolyn. I too am so happy that the scientists you met are PRO-homeschooling! Isn't it the other way around, sometimes?

      Now... if only my control-alt-delete worked as well as my PC's!

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    3. Thanks. I don't think this message - about scientists being pro-homeschooling - is mentioned in the press and that's why I wrote this blog post. Scientists in academia are a breed apart and I haven't met one who has been opposed to homeschooling. In fact, they have all wished that they could be doing it because they want to foster their own child's curiosity, interests, passions, etc.

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  2. It's nice to know that science is on our side-though we'd do it anyway!

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  3. Does it help reaffirm your faith in humanity if I tell you I'm not a liberal, latte-sipper, and I still believe in science, evolution, and the big bang? :D

    There's a serious dearth of critical thinking skills these days, and I blame a combination of compulsory schooling and social media. Fascinating conversation you had - hooray for forging onward, even when we can't take one more, "But - why?"

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    1. Yes, it restores my faith in humanity by you saying that you also notice a serious dearth of critical thinking skills these days and believe in science, evolution, and the big bang!

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  4. As the parent of a 5th grader, #2 and #3 are frightening to me... I am grateful for your tips on fostering and re-igniting curiosity and questioning! Thank you!! :-)

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    1. Yes, #2 and #3 are frightening, but take heart that we do have the internet today and have access to search engines, MOOCs, and educational sites to help us.

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