I will start by saying I know many loving, caring, kind and hard-working educators and this post is in no way meant to offend or question your expertise. In fact, some of the family and friends that I love dearly are public school educators. I have a bitter pit in my heart regarding public education and for so many good, undisclosed reasons. I am praying and hoping to someday look past those things, but as of now, the wound still bleeds. It has yet to even scar; in fact, because the effects of these experiences are still living in our family today.
On July 24th, I wrote a blog post called “Pass or Fail” leading into my initial feelings on the photo above. I had made reference to a possible future elaboration and I plan to present that tonight because it is fresh on my heart. Again, experiences and observations of real life situations, dating back far before Noah was born, have led me to believe and understand the intended truth described in this photo. I have watched a “state-funded special education system” fail both of my brothers miserably and that is a fact I wish NOT to debate or discuss; as the school later admitted their failure in this particular situation. Total failure.
This picture. THIS PICTURE! It breaks my heart! I came across an interview tonight that was 18-some minutes long. I sat and watched the entire thing….THREE times. Here it is…please watch it.
This child is marvelous and his intellect went absolutely unnoticed. How did they not recognize this aptitude?! His mother certainly did know best; not the school. Instead of challenging him, they labeled him. After all, labeling is quickly followed by significant state funding if I am not mistaken. In fact, I remember the dollar amount the school received for issuing my brother with a flashy “label” that followed him into adulthood. I remember those labels; those pathetic and threatening labels issued to both of my brothers. They were so hurtful to my parents and I remember to this day what they were. It seems they had an unintended, lasting impression on an entire family? I’d say so. Albeit, it turns out those labels aren’t just for the books.
As I sat watching this video this evening, all I could think about was my have-tried-to-pray-away abhorrence for “medical treatment” in these young children. This picture came to mind because I really think BOTH of my brothers were deprived of the opportunity to excel in their “genius”. They truly were. I cry just thinking about the struggle my parents went through always making their best effort to do exactly what the teachers, “experts”, IEP meetings, and doctors recommended. They did it all – every suggestion; every recommendation, EVERY awful symptom-inducing prescription. Every one! After all, “why would you deprive a child of what the medication will offer them, their education, and your family?” Oh, you can’t sleep? Why don’t we just throw another pill into the mix! Oh, you are foaming at the mouth during class and that is embarrassing and degrading by every definition? Okay, we can fix that with another investment into the pharmaceutical industry! Grrrrr. NO. NO. NO. For some many reasons, NO.
I will not go into detail regarding their numerous supposed “diagnosis” (that later turned out to be MISdiagnosis), but I will tell you that as a result of the constant “pushing pills into kids era”, my youngest brother now struggles miserably with a substance abuse problem. Those “recommendations” and “elite expertise” in the 90’s turned directly into a drug problem today. And it is not only he that struggles; our entire family feels the pain. Constant, gut wrenching, wonder and pain; will he ever be the same again?
When you think about a “homeschool”, what does it look like to you? Chances are that if you view it negatively, you and I are seeing it very differently. I see constant opportunity to learn and thrive in the child’s AREA OF INTEREST. I see the absolute lack of standardized testing. I imagine freedom to explore what you love. I see the lack of “rushing” and teachable moments spent teaching. I am not a teacher (as I have been reminded, but I could be with only a small bit more schooling as I have a bachelor’s degree), but I believe whole-heartedly that the impact we have as parents trumps any “school” experience a child will ever have. That is simply the truth. I see lack of pressure and PEER PRESSURE. I see a fun, faith-filled, thriving environment where failure is not even considered. I see failure turned quickly into conversations about strengths. I see social experiences and time spent with children and people of ALL AGES in the real and natural world in which we need to learn to live and operate. I see God everywhere. I see family time, togetherness, and lack of the idea of traditional “school” all together. I see travel. I see wonder, curiosity and imagination gone wild on a constant basis. That is what I see. What do you see?