Imagine being alone. Imagine walking down a shaded, secluded, quiet forest path. The surrounding trees have the orange and yellow shades of fall, both comforting in its familiarity, yet claustrophobic, and eerie in its emptiness. Walking along, tired and hungry, a small glimmer of warm light appears. Not above, but ahead. Gaining hope, you run forward, and come to an open, sunlit clearing. Think about the relief, happiness, and release you feel in that moment. You are in an open, green, bright space, just outside of the forest you were trapped in. In the far distance, there is a town. People. You aren’t alone anymore.
In many cases, the idea of the forest is how many children and teenagers feel in public school. Those people are trapped in an unengaging, boring, monotonous school, much like you were trapped in the forest. But how are they trapped? They can move forward, keep going, continue walking in the same direction. Sometimes, though, they will never make it to the clearing. The detriment and the harmfulness of public schooling is its educational limits, and how it stops many children’s journeys to that meadow before they even begin. The thing that public education lacks the most, however, is writing education, which can be resolved in two specific ways; first, by teaching students how to think objectively, and second, by reading classical books written by excellent professional writers.
In all education, and life in general, there is nothing more important than writing. From writing school essays and reports to applying for a job, the ability to write well is essential. More than that, in recent years, with the emergence of texting and social media, writing has devolved to be much more casual and lighthearted. While casual writing is not necessarily bad, it harms writing as an art. The beauty of writing seems to be lost, along with great writers like Tolkien, Shakespeare, or Charles Dickens. By reading those classical works of literature, a student expands their vocabulary and writing style.
Part of this problem has to do with the media we consume, but another problem is public school’s approach to writing. In my experience, and those of my friends, schools have removed classic books from their curriculum, and with it, artistic, thoughtful writing.
In my own life, I have seen the effect public schools have had on my writing capabilities, but only in hindsight. I now realize the forest I was trapped in, and how detrimental it was to my educational health. After all, as a kid, I read plenty on my own, so I never thought anything was wrong. However, my parents also saw it differently. They believed that school should teach children, instead of having children independently teach themselves, or worse, other students. So, they made a decision.
Once my parents saw the problem of public-school education, they pulled me out and put me in a Classical Homeschool program. The Classical Curriculum has been around for thousands of years, and it focuses on “training your child’s mind” (homeschoolon.com, Classical Homeschooling Style: What is it and How Does it Work?) The classical curriculum has students read works of literature like the Odyssey, the legends of Beowulf and The Hobbit. Besides that, they study ancient history, Latin, as well as core classes. Learning Latin greatly expanded my knowledge of the English language and its structure. The classical curriculum is almost certainly the reason I enjoy writing and succeeded at it in school.
The second part of what makes the classical homeschool program so great are the teachers it provides. After all, any great curriculum is useless if there is no one to teach it. The program I went to had wonderful teachers that worked closely with the students. This type of homeschooling is also referred to as “hybrid-homeschooling.” Hybrid-homeschooling provides the classrooms, teachers, and social settings that regular homeschooling lacks, but with the same flexible curriculum.
Finally, my favorite part about a classical, hybrid-homeschool program, is Socratic discussion. This form of discussion has taught me how to think freely and express my thoughts in a reasonable, respectful manner that has helped me immensely in life. In public school, there is no such discussion, and it is detrimental to a student’s learning. Socratic discussion teaches a person to think freely, form one’s own opinions, and prove them. This skill greatly helps writing, because it teaches a student to think objectively and form tangible arguments. If a student is able to do this verbally, they can also apply this skill to writing, which would improve one’s writing immensely.
All of these aspects of hybrid-homeschooling, and the classical curriculum, are freeing and extremely helpful. As a student, I was in a much less rigid environment, and my teachers helped me fulfill state educational requirements while still improving my gifts and talents. The feeling of freedom and release I experienced while in that homeschooling program is what I imagine that meadow to feel like.
Now, currently, I have left the meadow, and am instead well on my way to that town, which lies beyond. That town could be many things, but at its core, it represents the future an individual desires. That town could be college, a job, or a family. However, many people will never reach that town. Some will never even reach the meadow. Only those who know how to think for themselves, have a good education, and know how to write will succeed in whatever future they choose. So, if a child, teenager, stays in public education, they could forever be in that forest, trapped and alone. I am lucky enough that I got out of that loop, but many are not that blessed. For those reading this post, I hope it at least got you thinking, and that you are aware of this problem in the future.
Thank you for reading!
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