“Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind,” wrote Plato, who is far from the only great thinker to have spoken out against a formal education system. Formal schooling is but one tool at our disposal to use when developing young minds, and it’s far from being necessary for a rich and balanced education. In fact, if we want to ensure that we cover social and ethical topics as thoroughly as we cover traditional academic teaching, homeschooling might be a far better way to do it.
Children are Independent Learners
Young people are natural researchers: they want to learn; they want to question; they want to find out. A homeschool environment is the perfect environment for nurturing independent learning, a skill that feeds itself with knowledge and higher level thinking. Encouraging your children to investigate social issues, both local and global, will broaden their minds and encourage them to be engaged and thoughtful members of society.
Pick an interesting topic for them to study—or better still, guide them to pick their own—and ask them what they’re going to do to find out everything they can about the topic. Then you can intervene with your input and guidance, but allow them control: being at the helm of their own education will motivate and inspire them to learn. With your help, they may think of heading out into the community, conducting interviews and finding out what social issues are affecting their world.
More than One Perspective
Remind your children of the importance of looking at all the angles: their essays should be balanced. Young people should be encouraged to find and express their own opinions, but if we are to teach social and ethical topics effectively, they need to make sure that they incorporate every side of a debate. If your child is struggling with this around a particular topic, it might be an idea to create several fictional viewpoints and get them to look at the issue through each lens.
It’s important that young people don’t just accept what they’re told. Teach them to look for evidence and find proof through discussion, debate and asking questions. In the home environment, they can be active learners, and they have far more opportunity to find out about ideas and schemes that might surprise them, ways in which people are helping others in our society and inspiring them to do the same.
Homeschooling allows you to break down the barriers that hem children into a rigid way of thinking. They are young people in a world affected by a multitude of complex social issues: giving them the tools of independent research skills and analysis will set them up well to not only be aware of them, but to help to address them in later life.