No Room For Boring

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By Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

There is an ad campaign with muppets in an SUV that has “no room for boring” as their slogan. Personally, I like my car to be boring. Dependable, no surprises, no distractions. Boring is just fine with me. But I think “no room for boring” is a great mantra for homeschooling.

Let me say right off the bat here that I’m NOT advocating that we throw out the boring subjects. I think we should throw out the boring teaching methods and text books. As a homeschooling parent, I think we are responsible for sifting through the resources and finding the right approach for each child. That means we find the material or presentation that can capture a child’s interest and ignite a child’s imagination. It’s not nearly as hard to pull off as you might think. It just means we have to let go of the mistaken notion that learning happens best with a text book in hand.

Over the years, I can’t even tell you how many times other homeschoolers have asked me what kind of homeschooler I am- classical? Unschooler? Eclectic? or whatever other labels were flying around in the homeschooling community. I called myself ‘eclectic’ for quite a while, but finally realized there was a better term for my personal philosophy of education. I was ‘textbook avoidant’ and it has made all the difference!

If you choose to embrace this philosophy for yourself (go ahead and try it for even one month and see if you don’t notice a striking difference) you aren’t shunning textbooks entirely. You are just shifting your focus to make them your last resort. You are committing to a more adventurous educational path that values exploration of a topic by using multiple sources of information. Websites, magazines, documentaries, seeking out experts, using your library, museums, nature centers, and anything else that supports your topic. A path that encourages curiosity and experimentation and discovery.  Along the way, children learn that different sources of information give you a different side of the story. They learn critical thinking skills, problem solving, how to ask questions and maybe most importantly, they learn that interacting with information is the best way to digest it and own it and truly learn it.

A textbook is the result of someone else digging into a topic and having all the fun, and then sifting through to decide what you need to know about it. They try to jazz it up with colorful side bars and a picture here and there, but there’s still a lot more information out there that didn’t make the cut. What if that’s the stuff that really speaks to you? What if that’s the stuff that you were curious about? We are ‘outside the box’ people, homeschoolers. Be a ‘free-range learner’. Pick your topic and go foraging for the knowledge you crave. See where the path less traveled will lead you. And don’t be afraid to stray from the path onto some interesting tangent you find. This is your education- Own it!