Homeschool Essentials

Whether unschooled or highly structured, religious or secular, all homeschools encounter the same challenges. All successful homeschools exhibit the same essential qualities. This weblog will help you understand and apply those qualities, minimize frustration, and enjoy more success sooner.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Galileo's Heresy

Galileo Galilei not only had the most redundant name of his generation, he was the greatest scientist of his generation. Still, he got in trouble with Church authorities for teaching that the sun, and not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

In Galileo's day, it was common knowledge that the earth was the center of the solar system, indeed, the center of the universe. And like so much "common knowledge," it was false.

Actually, the idea made a great deal of sense. During the day, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, after apparently sweeping through the sky. During the night the stars appear to rotate through the sky. Except, in those days, for five rogue stars.

These rogue stars had been observed and speculated about since the earliest times. They did not appear to follow any fixed patter, sometimes stalling, even backing up, before moving around again. The greeks called these "wanderers" or "planetoi." Yup, the other five planets eventually proved that old Sol. the sun, was the center.

A similar confusion has taken hold of the world of education and schools. State laws are built on it, even some of the most independent-minded homeschoolers fall for it. They put the teacher at the center of the learning system.

Teacher training, teacher "certification" or licensing, teacher preparation, lesson plans-- all these occupy the minds of legislators, regulators, administrators, and most spectators (You know, like your neighbors, who have no training, but just "know" homeschooling can't work).

Now, teacher licensing has nothing whatsoever to do with teacher competence, or, more importantly, student performance. Yet states and parents spend much effort and concern over the qualifications and training of teachers. Teacher certification deals with the successful completion, by the teacher, of certain courses. The teacher is observed while teaching, but student performance is not part of the mix.

It's a crazy system, really. It's like hiring a chef based on the food he has eaten. Does anyone care to eat what he cooks? Who knows. That's not what we look for.

But let's go back to the Churchill quote, "I am always ready to learn. I am not always willing to be taught." Isn't that the truth! And that's the whole point. Because if the student is not willing to be taught, the greates teacher in the world will fail to teach him. If nothing else, the lives of Socrates and Jesus should assure us of the truth of that assertion.

So, sorry to disillusion you, Mom. Too bad about your shiny new degree, young teacher. YOU are not the center of the learning universe. Deal with it, or be prepared to spend much of your life either irrelevant, frustrated, or both.

Next time, another false Sun.


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9:20 AM  

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