Schooling or Education?

“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”

Mark Twain

Perhaps you’ve heard of this famous American author. If you read about the adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer, you would have. I pray so.

I have this quote on a bulletin board in my office. I love the truth of it. When did we start “schooling” kids and stop educating them? Or actually letting them explore the world around them and discover new insights?

That is real education.

I appreciate that some of the most educated people of our past understood this. Many of our founding fathers learned at home. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, our most celebrated presidents taught themselves. Thomas Edison and Leonardo DaVinci were educated with a life of discovery and creativity. But you might be surprised to find that many celebrities have spent at least part of their time learning through homeschooling. You can find the entire list that includes athletes, actors, and musicians as well as many others here:

In a recent newsletter by Connor Boyack, he states, “I’ve learned from my own experiences, and those of others, that education is so much more than just schooling. In fact, schooling can often get in the way of true education.”

Great minds!

What if the current system of schooling is actual stifling creativity and cutting off the great ideas students might have is they had been allowed to explore and discover the way these aforementioned famous folks did? What could you have done with your life had you had the chance to develop a variety of skills without pressure to perform?

Sometimes we get the idea that homeschooling is simply creating a school in our home. I confess that since I was schooled in college to be a teacher, that is exactly how I approached our first couple of years. I converted one of our bedrooms into a schoolroom with students desks lined up facing my teacher desk. It took me a few years to take the school out of me so I could allow education for my children.

The best memories we have are reading The Chronicles of Narnia during daily backyard lunch picnics or dressing up like the historical characters we read about. Jumping in our van with lunches packed and guitar in hand to drive out to find sunny days at a nearby river with another family became a greatly anticipated event. We rode horses, collected tadpoles and frogs, and tested gravity by throwing different sized rocks in the river. Our collective eight kids brought us a variety of bugs and plants and asked questions about what they discovered.

In contrast, at three separate times when we decided to put a few of our children in public school temporarily, we learned that the girls spent most of their time chasing after our son in fourth grade, the kids no longer had time to read in seventh grade, and some teachers would rather just give extra credit for a grade than help a student learn a subject. (I’m all for outside projects as “extra credit” but not to avoid having to help a student.)

Not the education we anticipated.

I understand that not all public experiences are bad. A few of our kids got through okay. One struggled and the others were bored, but their overall experience wasn’t horrible. Those in elementary school, they had loving, kind, helpful teachers who did their very best to teach their students within a challenging, broken system. And we’re grateful. But what if we had a choice between schooling and education?

What if we could immerse our children in a safe, loving, home setting that would foster their creativity and let them learn according to their interests and unique design? What if we changed our view of “schooling” and opted for a lifestyle of learning instead? What if parents actually believed that they are the best teachers and maybe they are already giving their children a true education whenever they aren’t in school?

What would you choose?

Published by Laura Bennet

Encouraging others one story at a time. Author, speaker, educator. Wife, mother, grandmother, ocean lover, hockey fan. Sold out for Jesus.

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