Is a Busier Student, Better? Does a Busier Student Learn More?

My daughter and I conversed this morning. It came up that she has a belief that because she thinks that other homeschooled and public schooled kids her age are signed up for more classes, that they must be learning more than she is. This makes her conclude that she is “behind” her peers. When questioning further, I found out that she does not know that they are signed up for more classes than she is. She just thinks they are. Why? Because they seem busier.

It makes me sad, but I cannot be surprised, because here in the U.S. in our suburbian neighborhood, it is our culture (which we should not be proud of) to believe that the busier one is, the better a person they are. I am positive that this industrialized attitude is not a good one, having read “Don Quixote” and having lived in Chile during my LDS mission there.

Having read about Don Quixote striving to keep the culture of home production and knights guarding a lord’s township, as opposed to welcoming industrialization (the windmill), I believe our culture has gone into a negative cultural set of traditions, thinking they were a positive set. Having lived in Chile among a people who would never allow being busy to take away their time to relax and be happy among family and friends, I truly think our culture is a huge mess socially, mentally and emotionally to think that being busier is being better.

Can we please try to get over this lie our culture has fed us in the U.S.A.?

One reason that it is hard for me to stay a mother who is not worrying about earning money was said very well by my friend recently. She said 90% of the mothers she talks to regularly in her LDS ward are earning money by working a job of some sort. She said it is so hard for her because she keeps feeling a push to do what she got her education to do, and earn money doing it.  am almost always feeling pushed toward that, too. She said she is capable. She can do it. She would be good at it. I know she has the education and experience!

I am almost always feeling the same temptation. I know I am good at the money earning career of graphic design business owner. I am very good at it. I know our culture does not believe that a woman who homeschools her children instead of earning money in a career she is trained for, is a successful one. I know our society believes I am wasting my education. 

I also can see that this same culture is the very same that is teaching my daughter about its beliefs. They are leading her to believe that because her colleagues seem to be busier than she is, that they are ahead of her in life. It is so sad that she feels this way. I do not know how to help her to see. Oh, I have one idea, though. I really need to have a good, long talk with her and maybe even recommend some reading. I also need to help her experience cultures of less hurrying and scheduling. She also needs to see that even in cultures of less overscheduling and hurry, there is great success and happiness and some of the people are maybe even better and some even more educated, people.

Relaxing is wise. It is not foolish or a waste of time. It helps with happiness. Being scheduled every minute of every day is foolish. That culture of hurry and overscheduling is part of the reason people need drugs for depression and part of the reason so many people feel they need to sign up to do even more. They feel unsatisfied, which means they need more joy. More joy will only come if they let go of more things and have less on their schedule. 

I have another thing. This is the big one. 

When Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria at the well to tell her about the living waters, why was he sitting there when she came? When was Jesus too busy to talk to someone? Did he have a schedule? He probably had a routine. He walked places. He sat and taught people. He taught people while walking. 

Now let us think on the disciples who had to leave their jobs to become His twelve apostles. Why did they have to leave their jobs first? Why did they have to stop doing what they were busy doing in order to learn from and serve alongside, the Savior? 

How is being busy so good, then, if Jesus could not have a busy person be His Apostle? 

Can LDS missionaries have a job while on their missions? Why would that not work? It would not work because they cannot be busy with other things. They must be busy serving the Lord. Their schedule must be open enough to find people and to teach those people the gospel.

Can a person really feel and hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost going from one scheduled event after another in a tight, inflexible schedule? Not really. How is there time for that?

These things bring me to the conclusion that being busier does not mean being a better disciple of Christ. I believe a better person is one who realizes they need forgiveness, so they need to drop everything and follow the Savior.

Now onto the next topic. My daughter believes that people who appear to be busier public schooled and homeschooled students, are learning more than she is and are ahead of her in life. Our first instinct is to want to compare one child’s learning to another’s. For this, we would most likely, in our day, turn to standardized testing. 

That is not what I will do here. If you believe standardized testing shows things clearly and accurately and tells the gruth about all of the important things, then in my opinion, you are messed up by our idiot U.S. culture, which is why you cannot see clearly.

Another insinct our culture would have you go toward to know whether a busier student is a more educated one, is to performances and displays. These shows of talent are ever so popular in our day and in our culture. They do not mean that a person is more educated, either. One who believes that a person who can perform or display things, is well-educated, is also messed up by our culture.

What standards will I go by, then? Why, God’s. I know. Shocking, right? Why did God see a boy who kept sheep as the person to fight Goliath? I will answer that with another question. Why did David himself know he could fight Goliath and win? I am sure you know: He knew God would deliver him! That is a truly well-educated person as an example for you. From my point of view, a good education is one that gives a person faith and trust in, and dependence on, God and Jesus Christ. If everything else is know and understood, what good does it do if not on a foundation of faith in God and Jesus Christ. It is all like rotted organic matter turning into black dust. 

This is how I know my daughter is not behind:

  • She loves her family.
  • She loves God and Jesus Christ.
  • She listens to the Holy Ghost.
  • She prays to Heavenly Father and reads the scriptures with extreme intent on learning and understanding them.
  • She serves others with the love of Christ.
  • She works hard at housework and helping around the house and yard.
  • She works hard at academic learning and excels at learning whateter is put in front of her.
  • She is humble and teachable. 
  • She has extremely strong desires to always do what God leads her to do.

My daughter is not behind.

Another thing I have to say is this: What is “behind,” really? Even in academics, is there a way to compare one person to another for real? No. One person has a talent for mechanics and is awesome at fixing anything. Another has a talent for mountain climbing and can lead people up Mount Everest on a daily basis. Are these people ahead or behind a person who wins the worldwide contest for concert pianists? What of the mother who gives birth to her first child? Is she ahead or behind the person who just paplied for a patent on their first invention? 

These are things we cannot compare. These accomplishments cannot be compared and people cannot truly and accurately be compared. People were never meant to be compared and life is not a race to get to a finish line. Is death a finish line? Is an amount of money or an academic degree a finish line? No. None of these ae a finish line. If there is no finish line, then there is no “ahead” and there is no “behind.”

Therefore, my daughter cannot possibly be “behind.”

Homeschool Academics as a Prevention Method

I apoligize for those who may have come to this post thinking it is praise for Academics in homeschool. That is not what this post is about. This is about the positive things that your homeschool could have which academics can possibly prevent from happening.

My definition of “Homeschool Academics” is: 

Formal teaching by the homeschool mom or homeschool teacher (if in a co-op) usually by subject, such as math, science, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, geography, history, careers, p.e., health, art, music, theater, dance and library sciences. These are usually learned one subject at a time at a certain “grade level.” They are usually taught either by specific planned curricula, usually via books, workbooks, assigned projects and so forth. Much of it is also memorization, copying and reciting. Sometimes there are field trips and videos. Sometimes even hands-on things are done to aid with the learning. Some or all of it could be fun and made just right for the learning style of the child. There is usually an assignment, project or quiz given to the child to do to aid with and show the learning. This “work” that is completed which has evidence is many times useless to anyone except for possibly as scrapbooking material for evidence in portfolios to show that this “work” has been done. More than 90 percent of this fodder is, or should be, recycled because otherwise it would overrun the house, giving nobody a place to sit, sleep or eat. About 10 percent of it is wonderful, beautiful and unique. Usually the homeschool academics are so rough on the kids that they need a formal recess, a formal lunchbreak, a formal starting and stopping time, formal days of the week when “homeschool” is done and formal summer, spring, fall and winter breaks, just like they would have in school. 

Most homeschool families, at least the ones I know of, started out nearly 90 percent of the time using the “homeschool academics” methods. Most homeschool families I know about don’t keep doing it more than a year. This is for those in their first year who have maybe “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be.”

My definition of “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be” is:

You have just begun to realize that using the “formal school structure, curriculum, schedules and methods” is not required, that nobody is going to check up on you and shut down your little homeschool and that your kids learn more watching television and playing than they do from your “homeschool academics” lessons. (Perhaps this is frustrating to you). You have possibly also noted that having your own children raise their hands to ask you whether they can use the bathroom is pretty silly. (That one is a chapter from our own starting out story). There is a very slight possibility that by now you have also had conversations with some seasoned homeschoolers. These people who have homeschooled for a few years and have stopped using so many of the “homeschool academics” methods. Possibly, you have even met a mother who told you, “We unschool.” I am sure you asked her what that was, so I will not tell you in this post. (If you have not met such a person, you will, or you can google it).

Now I will move on to what homeschool academics will likely prevent, with a story.

A couple weeks ago, we were thrown a new learning curveball. It was very unexpected and unplanned. We were out in the back yard peeling polyetheline tape off of cardboard boxes so that we could use those as weed barriers to start our “Back  to Eden  Garden.” Suddenly we heard very loud wings flapping with fervor. A large raptor was chasing a dove. The raptor had knocked the dove out of the tree first. It was so surprising that we all screamed loudly, scaring the raptor away. Then we had a limping, flightless dove hopping around the yard with cowardice, looking so afraid that we  tried  to feed it. Then we started to worry about the CAT. Oh, dear. Poor helpless bird. We did not want this lovely bird killed by a cat.

We made a couple phone calls and then we had a very scary mission: to pick the bird up with a towel and put him in a box, then take him in to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. (My sister-in-law did this with our little bit of help. Our hero!) Little did we know, that was just the beginning. We went to a volunteer training meeting and today, my son and I were in volunteer training there for 3 hours. We learned as much as I learned in one whole week in a class in college. I cannot even put it all into words, and that was just in three hours’ time. We plan to continue and next week my daughter will be in training, too. They will learn more than any school kid could possibly be learning at the same time sitting in school.

Now let me say something about this. If we had been inside doing academics and not outside ripping tape off from cardboard boxes, this opportunity for EXTREME LEARNING opportunity never would have presented itself. We would still not even know that this place exists. By the way, they told us that the bird who chased the bird out of the tree was a Cooper’s Hawk and that the dove is a Eurasian Collard Dove. The dove is now being treated by being fed from a tube. He has a popping sound when he breathes which indicates he has internal injuries. His wings work fine but he is too injured internally to be able to fly. 

Once a week as part of our learning, we will go in and volunteer there. This will be a great opportunity for my kids to learn service, hard work, introducation to veterinary science, biology and medical care for injured wild animals (mostly birds). I think even the “academic homeschooling” moms would love to have their kids doing things like this for learning, but I do not think they will find such opportunities in their communities until they slow down the academics and start working their way into the adventurous side which is called “unschooling.”