Independence Day and Homeschool – Where They MeetMonday, July 4th, 2011
In America, today is Independence Day. This is the day we celebrate our national freedom. For those of you who have looked over the Connect The Thoughts course on Independence Day, you know there are some 100 countries around the world that each celebrate Independence Days of their own, at different times of the year. While I do believe that a nation’s independence is worthy of celebration, I think we all could occasionally use a reminder about the intended nature of the relationship between government and the people it represents.
The best nations are those where individuals are important. Historically, per Will Durant (America’s greatest historian), it is almost always the individual who comes up with the next important idea, or discovery in science, or work of art. Our history as Human beings (at its best) is one of great individuals creating, and the “crowd” following in their footsteps and supporting the new. You’re doubtless reading this on your computer? Thank Thomas Alva Edison (or Tesla, according to some tellings), an American inventor who devised the light bulb and who figured out how to use electricity in a productive way. Thank the person or team of bright specialists who devised the circuitry, the mechanisms that make this possible. Yes, the Internet is supported by corporations, and computers are assembled by them. However, these things were not invented by corporations but rather by individuals.
A lot of modern life is collaboration, that is certainly true. But this is largely the case because the existence of civilization allows us each to specialize. You don’t use up hours per day to grow or collect your own food – others specialize in this so you don’t need to. You don’t sew your own clothes, either, most likely. Or build your own house. People specialize. And the people who build your house rarely grow their own food. The farmer no longer makes his own clothes as a rule. Specialization is the gift (and curse I suppose) of civilization.
The freedom to specialize gave us nearly every genius you can think of throughout history. A man who has to farm has no time to invent the light bulb, sound recording and movie, as Edison did. Bach wrote mountains of wondrous music, and Shakespeare authored over 20 theatrical masterpieces (out of his over 30 plays) because they were allowed by their civilizations three things: 1) The time, resources and energy to specialize; 2) access to other specialists who could help bring their creations to fruition, such as actors, musicians, people to build theaters or musical instruments, and; 3) the freedom to create. These qualities are absolutely necessary to the blossoming of genius in a nation, any nation. Again they are: 1) The wherewithal to specialize; 2) Access to other specialists, and 3) Freedom to create. This is not just a formula for genius, but also a formula for accomplishment of almost any sort.
What does this mean to you as a homeschooler? Everything. These three points are a virtual formula for the development of potential. This is one of the most important lessons of history.
Who does not wish for their children that they achieve their greatest potential? That they each provide mankind some sort of unique contribution? Wasn’t one of the most important reasons you started homeschooling your intention to provide your student the best possible chance to be everything they could be? This is the “game” that a free society should always play, isn’t it?
Matter of fact, the right to homeschool can easily be seen as an index of the degree of freedom a country allows. It can also be seen as an index of sanity for that nation. If a country wishes to survive in an ever-more-complex world, it certainly will need its geniuses! Countries which restrict homeschooling have made a decision – that their government knows better than the family or child what that child needs and what the child is capable of. But the government is just an edifice, a mass of people. It will never even know your child’s name, much less what he or she may be capable of.
Homeschoolers, unrestricted by the rules and agendas of schools and school systems, are free to discover themselves and to specialize in accord with their own interests and desires. The home and family organize or provide the needed resources. These include access to the works of needed specialists. (I hope to be one of the specialists your children use to develop their own potential!) The child (or adult) studies at will, free to do so, and doing so will eventually expose the student to those subjects of profound interest to them. These will be different for different people. Freedom allows the student to decide for him or herself what to invest themselves into, how to specialize. If history is at all correct, homeschool can and should be a breeding ground for maximum accomplishment.
If you are an American (as am I), today is an important day, far more important than barbecues and fireworks might indicate. Today is a day to reaffirm your personal and individual rights and freedoms, spelled out in the Constitution by the great men who had the ideas this country is based upon, and whose lead we are supposedly following. If you haven’t read the Constitution lately, you should. Many of the rights promised you there are under siege, or have been already abridged. Per the formula, freedom is the force which makes accomplishment possible. States may provide the environment where the individual can achieve. Such states are worth supporting and celebrating. But even when living is such a nation, it is critical to ever recall that governments and states exist to serve individuals, it is not the other way around. A nation, every nation absolutely relies on the individual to provide that country its purpose, life and a future.
For me personally, I recognize that it is freedom which has allowed the curriculum I’ve authored to come into existence. The formula for accomplishment given above applies. I’ve specialized (as an educator), had access to uncounted other specialists and their works (some thousands of years old), and had the freedom to create and offer my creations to you. Such freedom is beyond price! It is not created by a government, but it could (and should) be defended by one.
The right to homeschool is not a privilege granted by a government. Thr right to homeschool is a manifestation of the basic human right to educate one’s self or one’s children, of the basic human freedom to explore and discover, and of the essential human freedom to determine one’s own path in life.
Happy Independence Day!