Getting Schooled

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Apr 11, 2011

by Lianne Castelino,


The whole topic of education fascinates me.  Or perhaps I've become mesmerized by it by default – because of all the research I've done over the years.

When I was young, you generally went to the school around the corner from you.  Most people walked to school, it seemed.  That's a far cry from what's going on out there these days.

Carpools, private buses, public transport, are sprinkled in with the big yellow school bus and parent drop-off and pick-up.  Whew, it makes me tired because we haven't actually started talking about school yet.  

Single-gender, non-denominational, private, montessori, bilingual, enriched, alternative, vocational, homeschool.  Let me sit down now!

How on earth have we managed to make this so darn complicated?  Whatever happened to kids learn at school, whatever their learning style and background. They enter a nice-looking brick building in the morning, are exposed to professional educators for about 6.5 hours of the day and leave.  Then twice a year parents are allowed to enter the building to meet their childs' teacher. 

These days the analysis is severe, and suffocating:  teachers, principals, courses, learning style, gifted or non-gifted, class make-up, curriculum, teaching style, homework, student body demographic, teacher age, and the list goes on.

My husband and I happily choose to participate in as little of the above as possible.  We are 'old school'!  Our way of thinking is —- professional educators must be left to do their work.  We judge the situation by how happy our kids are when the exit the school building and come home and by how engaged they are while doing their homework.  If they are happy about school, the rest should fall into place, we believe.  If they are not, it's time to do some non-threatening investigation.  If the unhappiness persists, it's time to find another school.  The latter has happened to us.  No big dramatic departure, nasty emails or negative energy.  We just move on.

What is unfortunate however, is the reality of how the very complexion of school has changed over the years. Depending on where you live, things like music, sports, library, art may not be offerred.  I have yet to find a good explanation or reason for why this is.  There is no excuse.  I learned all of these things at the old run-of-the-mill school around the corner, when I was growing up.

If there is one thing I've ever wanted for my children is an all-round education.  Exposure to a wide range of subjects.  For me, exposure is everything. Exposure is the key to unlocking one's passion.  And that is priceless. 

It's for this reason that I found the story of Carlo Ricci absolutely fascinating.  Both he and his wife are teachers.  They are both proponents of unschooling. I'd never heard this term before, but it made a lot of sense to me once explained.

If your child, your family, you are struggling with school, unschooling may be a welcome option.

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