Measuring Education

“But let there b no scales to weigh your unknown treasure; and seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line. For self is a sea boundless and measureless.”

                  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I have spent the last few weeks travelling abroad through reading the blog of homeschoolingmiddleeast and a draft version of a friends memoir who hitchhiked around Europe for a year. Now I sit and wonder, after all that they have learned what does that get them in our world of measuring sticks?

 I'm on a Road to Nowhere

My friend, in my opinion, has the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in history, religion and philosophy just in the first 7 months of a year long trip backpacking and hitchhiking around Europe. But when he returns to Canada there is no way to measure his learning, cause we as a society need to measure it. A degree from a recognized university gives the public a standard. What is the standard that society understands from someone who has spent a year travelling?  Is it not more than a few great photos and beers with new friends?

It should be enough for us to know our own value as the quote above says, “let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure”. Yet it is difficult at times when society, our friends and neighbours, do not recognize it as anything more than a cool opportunity. We are surrounded by measuring sticks.

The family that went on a five week vacation seeing the world, what an opportunity! Here in Saskatchewan, Canada I would report that excursion in my year end report to the government to show that I did something with my kids. To show they learned something. But isn’t it so much more than that? How can such an experience be measured and graded?

My Emily will experience much the same thing when she goes to Korea for a year.  There are no credits for her to put towards her Grade Twelve diploma, if she chooses to complete her Grade Twelve when she returns.  What she learns will be of her own accord.  Our systems have no way to measure such an event.  I am certain in Emily’s travels she wll learn something that could never be taught to her from a book, sitting in a desk, or staring at a whiteboard.

Could we exist in a world that isn’t measuring our experiences, that trusts our own abilities?  Can we move past degrees, diplomas and grades to another world of experience?

Photo curtesy of Jakesmome

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Pondering The Scheme of Things

I have interviewed a half dozen people for my Scheme of Things research. There is seems to be one common element that I see so far – parental support. Now, I do not know yet if the careers these people choose are their life purpose. Maybe talking to me is their life purpose. I do know that with their parents unconditional support, no matter how crazy the idea was, if the parents supported it and the child was truly passionate about it then it was always a win-win for everyone.

One lady talks of her ‘privileged degree’. This was when her parents paid for her to attain a music degree.  While taking this music degree she was introduced to the concept of music therapy.  She ended up not wanting to be so focused solely on music in her career and studied therapy in a more broad sense.

Who knows what is around the bend in the trail.

Our careers our life purpose? Caroline Myss, author of Sacred Contracts, says we have 12 archetypes.  Perhaps all of those archetypes need to be filled. Maybe we have many purposes. I do not know. I do wish to find out.

My one advice do far in my research is to follow your child. See where they intuitively know where to go. It might seem crazy. It might even mean you will be snickered at by the occasional hoity-toity but persevere. Your child knows their direction. They may dance a little, waver from one thing to another, but it will all pieced together.

Picture compliments of Sherese Luneng

What Is Success?

My daughter Emily came home from school the other day and plopped herself in the chair opposite me at the dinning room table.  Normally she heads straight down stairs so I knew something was on her mind.  (Oh, Emily attends school every other day for one period.  She is taking some electives.  We won’t do that next year.)

She tells me she was chatting with her homeroom teacher during the day.  The teacher asked her if she would be caught up if she did decide to return to the public school system next year.  Emily said no, cause science and math have not been our focal point and what we study in other subjects is way different than what the system has laid out.  The teachers response was, “Oh.”  She expresses her frustration in her teacher because they had just been talking about what she had been doing for the year and felt very insulted.

Emily then tells me that there is a quote on a poster in the library where she works on her own thing after her class.  She lifts up her hand and I see ink writing all across her palm.  She reads it to me.

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.”

– David Frost

“Teachers should really take some of the advice that is around them.” she says.

Emily heading down her own path (at the Meewasin trail around the Saskatchewan River).

For me, watching Emily sit in front of me now full of confidence and knowingness, I feel proud.  I see that she has come a long way.  We both have on this homeschooling journey.  Many people have challenged us and given us questioning looks.  In the beginning of our adventure in homeschooling we would let them get to us cause we were unsure with what we were doing.  I was worried I was messing up her life despite my heart telling me otherwise.  Now we both sit here and know.  We are good.  This is the right path for us and it feels awesome.  I love that Em was able to stand tall in this situation and not let her teacher’s opinion get her in a muck.