Homeschooling Curriculum: The Compassionate Circle

Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered by the heart.

Omaha Proverb

Homeschooling Curriculum: The Questioning Heart

Like me I am sure there have been times when you have held back from asking the question you know you should ask because the answer would not be the one you would want to hear.They are the answers that come from deep within us, the answers we know we ignore at our peril – the answers from the heart.

Within education systems worldwide the question being asked by more and more disaffected teachers is:

“Am I (the system) failing the children in my care?”

Homeschooling Curriculum:Circles Of Compassion

For those committed to homeschooling and the homeschooling curriculum I imagine the temptation is to nod smugly, draw your cloak about yourselves and walk the other way. Please resist the temptation, rather, consider the words of Einstein:

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

If a genuine desire for change exists within our schools then the homeschooling community and the homeschooling curriculum has an opportunity to influence that change. It may at present appear a remote possibility but a possibility it remains, and not as remote as many may think.

Homeschooling Curriculum:Can Schools Be Unschooled?

The Family Unschoolers Network defines the purpose of unschooling and, by association, the homeschooling curriculum, itself as being:

“… to keep alive the spark of curiosity and the natural love of learning with which all children are born.”

Isn’t it tragic that many children who start school as naturally enthusiastic learners curious about the world around them eventually become ‘turned off and disenchanted.

‘The Family Unschooling Network’s’ approach to the homeschooling curriculum is holistic and all-embracing. Learning does not start or end at the school gates. The universe is their classroom where learning is as natural a part of existence as breathing.

They touch upon an issue that will resonate with many teachers constrained by the imposed limits of State education where learning has to be bundled and packaged in neat little segments each with artificial time constraints of their own. Many yearn for the days when they were able to pursue a topic that had gripped the children’s interest or imagination to its natural conclusion. Here, for me, lies the starkest contrast between the homeschooling curriculum and that of education systems worldwide.

That said, it does seem to leave schools firmly out of the equation, or does it?

Hands up if anyone has heard of Wales.

Homeschooling Curriculum:The Learning Country

Wales is the smallest and least known of the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom. You are more likely to have heard of Wales because of Catherine Zeta Jones, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Tom Jones than for any other reason. But here, in this small principality, a bold educational experiment is taking place.

Jane Davidson, the previous Minister for Education, decided to steer a radical course. From 2008 children aged 3 to 5 were no longer compelled to follow a set curriculum instead the guiding principle is ‘play based learning’. The initial response from the education community was positive, but once the euphoria had dissipated people began to ask, “What is the curriculum going to look like?”

The minister was clearly determined to implement and extend these changes to embrace all year groups. Enthusiasm is in danger of being replaced by panic.

The question being asked is, “Where can we find a model we can adopt?”

It would be tragic if this initiative failed through lack of knowledge. Perhaps this is one area where the influence of the homeschooling curriculum can be brought to bear.

“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

Albert Schweitzer

Homeschooling Curriculum:Completing The Circle – The Work Of Our Hearts

When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of Creation is completed inside us; the doors of our souls fly open, and love steps forth to heal everything in sight.

Michael Bridge

Homeschooling Curriculum:Lighting A Candle

If you have knowledge let others light their candles by it.

Margaret Fuller

The time will eventually arrive when the homeschooling community will not only gain universal acceptance but also command universal respect. Where else does such a rich and invaluable knowledge base regarding experiential-based learning exist? Regrettably for Welsh teachers faced with the challenge of a radical new approach to helping children learn the homeschooling community in the UK is but a pale shadow of its American counterpart. One mother expressed very eloquently what homeschooling had taught her:

“Unschooling has taught me nothing if not to utilize all available resources and to provide my children with the best available opportunities regardless of their form.” (Life Learning Magazine)

Homeschooling Curriculum:Dead Dreams

If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing then the lack of it can prove fatal. Apparently over 90% of internet businesses fail due to lack of knowledge. That’s a lot of dead dreams! How sad if the Welsh initiative failed for the same reason. The question is – if American schools also decided to adopt an experiential play-based learning model, would the homeschooling community be prepared to get alongside and help?

Before answering perhaps we need to step back and consider the bigger picture for there is a battle taking place.

Homeschooling Curriculum:The Secret War

On one side stand the forces committed to a centralized education system defined by standardized curricula and driven by a regime of testing and examination that assigns children their specific rank in life. Opposing them are those who believe the child should be central to the process of learning, not merely a passive commuter following pre-planned routes over which he has limited control and little choice.

Events in the UK suggest this analogy is not overly dramatic. Disregarding the resentment and outrage it will inevitably provoke, the government has just announced that all schools in England must teach reading using synergetic phonics. This stands in stark contrast to the Welsh model that encourages innovation and diversity. But the battle lines are rarely that clearly defined, and anyway why get drawn into somebody else’s war?

Homeschooling Curriculum:Shades Of Achilles

At their hour of direst need the Greeks were denied the presence of their greatest warrior. Achilles remained in his tent and the consequence was the death of his beloved friend Patrocolus. If you believe children are suffering within a system that does not nurture and support the growth of the whole child don’t you have a responsibility to try to influence or change that system for the better?

Not every child is ever going to be in the privileged position of being homeschooled and prisons worldwide are full of disaffected casualties and those impacts upon us all. Troy had stood for generations secure behind her mighty walls. The institutionalized bastions of state education probably feel as impregnable and untouchable as did the citizens of Troy. Well, Troy got it wrong.

Homeschooling Curriculum:The Heart of the Matter

If seeing is believing then doing is a personal affirmation of that belief. The most powerful means of affecting change is getting alongside someone. Let them observe the work of your hands and if you are committed and passionate they will recognize it as the overflow of your heart. If a strong homeschooling community existed in Wales many head teachers would be making contact and asking families to share the experience of the homeschooling curriculum with their teachers for the benefit of the children in their care. This is not the improbable scenario it initially appears. The irony is that the battle that is raging may soon become irrelevant.