I know, I know, I am late to the Class Dismissed game. But, fortunately, you can now rent the film for $5.99 and watch it as many times as you’d like in a 3 day period.
But let’s back up. What the heck is Class Dismissed? It’s a documentary about one family’s struggles within the public school system, and their choice to homeschool.
Here’s what I love about it: the film is, in my opinion, designed for people who know little to nothing about homeschooling. Resources that fall within that category are rarer than they should be, I think. While I always recommend the book So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling: Second Edition: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It (Focus on the Family) that book is fairly limited in terms of what can be conveyed in print (rather than visual).
This movie SHOWS what homeschooling is like, thereby presenting the rare opportunity to look before you leap.
I mean, it depicts a classical conversations family and an teenage unschooling chemist, what more could we want from a homeschooling film! It also showed one of the amazing venues we have here, run by a homeschooling mom, and I recognized a friend’s child! That was neat 🙂 There’s also a discussion of this great program in Oregon, which ironically a friend and I had been discussing last week. A homeschool family that recently moved there is a part of it. I predict a huge increase in the number of these kinds of programs as the homeschool movement grows, for many reasons.
I also loved the references to the John Holt books. Oh! And they had an interview from John Taylor Gatto! (Ok and Sandra Dodd too!) I think that Holt & Gatto, read in conjunction with Peter Gray, can really provide parents with the intellectual foundation to choose homeschooling, if they so desire. These are the books that talk about how humans, children, actually learn.
When you first make the decision to homeschooling, unless you have had the unusual opportunity to be involved in a well established community, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. There is no real roadmap, because every family, and every kid! is different. This, I think is the key “lesson,” and hence the second half of the title of this post. It is so important to be able to let go and move on. You cannot find something new and spectacular if you are holding on to something that’s just not a good fit. This is a hard lesson to learn, but oh so important.
One of the aspects of this feeling of being overwhelmed, was captured quite well in the film, IMO, and that is the feeling of needing to meet some measure of what the outside world is expecting. This often looks like school at home, and attempting to impose an impossibly long and boring schedule on your children.
No, homeschoolers do not sit at the table for 8 hours each day. And you don’t have to either. In fact, you don’t have to do anything the way that schools do it. I mean, why would you want to replicate something that isn’t working for your family?
Another aspect of this sense of external influence, is the feeling of the need to stick with something when it’s not working. Part of growing into your homeschool is learning when things are learning, and when they aren’t. I have talked with another experienced homeschool attorney on this point, about how perhaps one of the reasons homeschoolers are able to perform so well is because decisions regarding their education can be made in real time. Curriculums can be changed, classes or lessons can be taken, the world truly is your oyster.
I loved that in the film they introduced a quasi-mentor relationship. I see that as really being key in childrens’ lives as they get older and develop more in depth interests. While I hope to be able to share my passion for the law with my, and perhaps other homeschool kids, I’m not so naive as to think that my childrens’ interests will be limited to that within my skill set. And that’s ok! In fact, there is even a glass blowing and black smithing studio nearby us, offering apprenticeships to worthy students. That’s what I’m talking about! Follow your passions so that you can find your own path in this life!
The only aspect of homeschooling that I felt wasn’t captured as spectacularly well as the others, was the magic of the homeschool park day. There was a glimmer of it in the interviews where the children described all children interacting with one another. We have been outside the “system” so long that I had forgot this was something special! Read Peter Gray on the magic of mixed age play and learning! And oh, the awe inspiring thing that is children allowed to pursue and develop their own interests. I have never met a homeschooled child that wasn’t bursting with their own unique joyous personality. Children living life at its fullest!
I do have one caveat for those who are new to the idea of homeschooling, though. Not all charter schools operate in the same manner as the one depicted in the film. They have different requirements for things like work samples, and freedom to choose curriculum. However, they are still an agent of public education, and accordingly they must follow certain requirements. I bring this up because I think it is important for families considering homeschooling to investigate all of their potential options. Of which, in California, there are 4 or so. For more info read this. For those outside of California, see this.
|1. The Road Not Taken|