An Essay By Ben // 5/21/2000

Dear Homeschooling Friends,

Como estas? Bien?
School is over for me! It seems strange for me to be constantly talking about school on a homeschooling Web site. But, I'm just musing about what's on my mind I guess. And, school definitely has been on my mind. I've never really had to face big tests or really important deadlines while I home schooled, and now this year I've faced plenty of them between school and taking the SATs for college. I think I've done pretty well on all my tests this year, though. That's a good feeling to have--to have done well on tests! I think taking tests has taught me two things. First, how to prepare for and take tests (I'm sure I can get better at that, though). Second, how little tests really test about what you know and have learned. For this reason, I don't really like tests. It would be so much better if we could just learn things for the pleasure of learning them, instead of memorizing things in dread of a test.

I suppose that's part of what makes homeschooling so much better than most public or private schools--that it allows you to learn things for the pleasure of learning them, without the tests. I think home schoolers--if they want to--can learn much more than school kids in the same amount of time or less.

I mean, really... what's the point of learning? I know that it's not to take tests or to get A's in school. Those tests and grades are meant to either challenge or scare you into learning. Learning is about widening your view of the world. It's about discovery and excitement. It can be very fulfilling and fun.

Think of yourself in a cave.... All you can see are darkness and shadows. That's your world.

Well, that's like your brain before you start filling it with history, philosophy, literature, math (yes, even math), and all the rest. It's not that darkness or shadows are bad. You're not bad if you don't know about what's outside of the cave. But, you're sure missing a lot when you don't know about the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees, the grass, the animals, the insects, and the people. You sure can't enjoy life as much until you know all about those things. The same goes for learning.

That's why I think tests and grades can really be bad. If you were trying to slowly discover the world outside your cave--slowly sticking your head outside the entrance of the cave and looking around--would you want someone to tell you that you have to observe the sky and the flowers and memorize the colors you see, because, later on, you'll have a test on it? No way! That might destroy the magical curiosity you have for these new things. You might reason that if you have to go through tests and memorization to discover the outside world, it might just be easier to stay in your quiet, comfortable cave.

Is that enough musing for you? ;-) It's enough for me! For now...

Enjoy apricot and tell me what you think!--

Ben Kniaz


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