Sunday, June 8, 2008

Braces are like school

The braces that adorn my son’s mouth were put on just after Halloween last year. He immediately took a dislike to them, hating how the metal was forcing his teeth into positions that were different than how they would naturally be. He begged me to have them taken off, proclaiming that he didn’t care if his teeth were crooked, that he should be the one to control what happens to his mouth.

This was the same argument that he used about two years ago when he begged to be taken out of school at the beginning of 4th grade. He wanted some control over what he was learning, when he was learning, and how he was learning. He hated school and having to conform to the school’s expectations. Just as braces keep his teeth imprisoned now, he felt personally imprisoned by the school system and was motivated to find a way to be free.

My son found his freedom from school when I began homeschooling him about a month after he started asking to be taken out of school. Having never considered homeschooling up until this point, I had a lot to learn. I hooked up with a wonderful homeschooling group and started the process of deschooling my son. Deschooling involved letting my son be free to pursue whatever learning he desired and avoiding the use of a school curriculum so that my son’s natural creativity and inquisitiveness that had been stripped by the school would kick back in. It took about a year for him to get school out of his system and to get a sense of who he was and how he enjoyed spending his time.

My son now spends his days reading novels of his choosing, visiting museums, playing board games at a local coffee shop with his homeschooled friends, writing stories, taking archery lessons, walking through prairies, constructing many creations, or playing with the dog. I do teach him math, history and science, but pretty much everything else he does is of his own choosing.

While I would love to free my son from his braces, they are a temporary inconvenience that only molds his teeth. School on the other hand, with all of its rules and expectations would mold my child.

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