1. How well do you feel you were taught "how" to think?"
I thought it was interesting that Julia said she didn't feel like she was taught how to think and had to teach herself as she got older, but Kami and I both feel we always knew. I definitely think this is a case of nurture as opposed to nature. We grew up with our Dad--a cynic, independent thinker, who was always questioning things we said (who told you that?--with the famous eyebrow raised--and you believed it?).
I disagree with Kami--I don't think we teach students how to think in the schools. Certainly textbooks are not designed to create critical thinkers. Again--the home is where the really critical things are learned.
5. People constantly point out the need to socialize our children. What does that mean? What are we socializing them for? What behaviors do we want to encourage? What social skills do they need for a normal life in our society? Is school the best place to get those skills?
I agree with Julia--the whole socialization question is ridiculous. All children learn to interact with others--and some are naturally better at it than others. What you learn in school is how to avoid those that make fun of you, find those that you could be friends with, and how to please the authority figure--or, how to get away with as much as possible without getting punishments you don't really want. For example, we would bring home report cards with 97% or above and Dad would say, "What percentage is an A?" We would say, "95%" or whatever it was, and Dad would say, "Why did you waste your time getting a higher percentage?" School is a game, and some play it well and others do not.
Okay--that was a little off-topic. To bring it back to socialization: a better example. I moved all the time. I would go into a new school and watch all the kids in my classes for a few days, immediately weeding out all the people that I obviously was not going to be friends with (students who were clearly "cooler" than me, jocks, skaters, cowboys, really strange people, or those who didn't have the same moral standards), then I would narrow down to my top three picks for a friend and then I would approach those people and spend some time testing them out.
I was "socialized" to move well and make friends quickly and efficiently. Who were the major players in that socialization process--my parents. Tim has a cousin who is six or so. Her mother buys her the trendiest clothes possible--modest or not--and is always talking about style and weight and image, and wants her to be a cheerleader. Which crowd is this girl going to hang with and what is her prom dress going to look like--I think that is fairly obvious. Who is her primary socializer--her mother.
Yes, children notice what other kids are doing, but weird parents (as Julia said) create weird children. Trendy rich parents create trendy children. Academically inclined parents usually create academically inclined children. Sports fanatics usually create little jocks. I'm just saying families socialize their children. And families that don't socialize their children usually wind up with the children who are the worst off. For example, girls who don't have grown-up males in their lives (by that I mean an involved dad or grandfather or older brother) are the ones that usually turn to love interests for acceptance and wind up with a whole host of problems. My meth casualties (my students who were removed from homes where the mother used meth) usually had a really hard time because they had no one at home interacting (ie socializing) them.
This became longwinded when my point is simple: families socialize and then a student plays out the effects of that socializing in the school environment.
13. Do you aspire to having "wise" children, or are you okay with children who are happily settled into good careers? Is there a difference?
I purposely made the question leading and biased but I think it is the heart of the question of education. It has been pointed out in other places, but education means different things to different people. I want my children to end up as wise and loving and kind as President Hinckley. Since I am not as wise or loving or kind as President Hinckley than guarantees that my children won't be--but at least I can teach them to WANT to be like that. At least I can teach them that just being okay is NOT the best they can do. Granted, I want them to understand that they will not be perfect overnight, but I also want them to know that they should always be pushing themselves to improve. To magnify their talents. To think about big ideas. President Eyring mentioned at President Hinckley's (PH's) funeral that he read a play of Shakespeare's because he knew how much PH loved Shakespeare. When President Eyring mentioned to PH that he had read the play PH said to him, "That is a good start, but you have a lot of studying left to do!" I want my kids to want to do that studying. To learn more, to be more, to give more.
I don't know if I am explaining this well, but every time I talk about homeschooling with my dad it gets back to--"so they might read more books and do more writing, but so what? What are they going to do with it?" I can never answer! I don't know what to tell him. But I feel strongly that what I feel is spiritual and not secular and can be only described through the scriptures, because when I try to describe what I want for myself and for my children, secular language fails me. But think about these scriptures in regard to an "education."
D&C 130: 18-19, Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
D&C 93: 36, The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
And D&C 88: 40, For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own . . ..
I want wisdom, virtue, light, mercy, and intelligence to resonate with my children. I want them to DESIRE these things--to search for them, to reject our current standards of mediocrity and do the best with their lives they are capable of. I want them to want more than just a nice career, a little family, a few nice things. Again--I am not explaining myself at all well. Maybe that delightfully trite saying that is all over the place will have to suffice: "Shoot for the moon because even if you fail you will be among the stars." I want them to aim high. Or maybe it would be more useful to say: I want them to live up to the divinity within them. To join themselves to a cause greater than themselves (I love the quote Kami has on her wall) and become some of the truly noble and great ones (ie Pres Hinckley) as they refine themselves in the process of moving that great cause forward. I cannot put it into words, but surely you can also feel the grandeur people are capable of and know what I am trying to say.
Postscript: I do not think you have to homeschool to achieve this. I just think you have to really invest everything you have into your parenting and have a grand vision for your family.
14. DeMille claims that we learn about human nature through the classics.
My example of this is "Illusion" by Paula Volsky. After reading that book I have a much better grasp on slavery and other divisions of people like the very real socio-economic categorizing of people. Along with classics though--you have to interact with people to really get a handle on human nature.
12. What is on your classics list?
I am still working on mine, but Kami, I had to laugh--hysterically. Tom Jones???? Amusing, yes. Hilarious, yes. Roll on the floor laughing, yes. But a must-read?? Then again--it does teach what happens if you have too many lovers and one of them is your mother. HAHAHA!! I seriously love that book. If you are going to include that you really have to include Moll Flanders which is also hilarious and teaches you about what happens if you have too many husbands and one of them is not rich and one of the others is your brother. Love that book.