The Ownership Principle
- Thursday, April 22, 2010
It has set the course for entire nations. When permitted to reign, it has changed lives and created fortunes for millions; it's given general peace and prosperity to countless more. What is this very simple concept? Ownership.
As a worldview, capitalism is based completely on private ownership, while communism abolishes private ownership in favor of collectivism, which stresses human interdependence over private independence. When I think of collectivism, I think of Hillary Clinton opining that "It takes a village to raise a child." One core reason for homeschooling our children is the belief that it is our God-given responsibility to raise them, not that of the secular village. If you are homeschooling, you are deliberately taking ownership of your children's education and training. I highly commend you for this decision, but it does have its price, as does anything commendable.
Perhaps the most common lament I hear from homeschooling moms is, "I just can't do it all! I'm exhausted, burned out, and if I have to make one more lesson plan or correct one more math paper, I think I will jump off the proverbial cliff!" Of course we get tired and worn out when we are constantly in the driver's seat of our children's education; homeschooling is not a job for the faint of heart whether you school one child or ten.
What I would like to share with you in this article is the single most important life-changing tip I could ever give. It is simple, yet so many parents miss it because education just is not done this way in a public or private classroom. Mass education does not lend itself to individualization, and giving a child ownership of his education is as individualized as it gets.
The Key to Motivation
If you homeschool, you have taken ownership of your children's education. However, that doesn't mean you have to do all the work and be a teacher in the same sense as a teacher in a classroom. Children in a classroom are dictated to; the teacher tells them to do something, and they may or may not do it to the best of their ability. We've all been students in a classroom, and many factors determined how successful we were—or were not—at the role. The onus is on the teacher to present the material, see that most of the students grasp it, and then move on to the next thing. This same pattern is repeated for 12 long years—unless you have a teacher who does things a little differently.
In the fifth grade, I had a science teacher by the name of Mr. Richards. Mr. Richards didn't think it was his job to throw information at us, have us take notes, and give a test at the end. He would have us sign "contracts." If you wanted an A, you would research certain topics and do certain experiments, and the bar was set at a particular level. If you didn't want to work that hard, for a B you could do fewer activities; for a C you did fewer still. He gave us class time to work, and he was there to answer questions, but for the most part, he gave us the materials and stood back and let us go.
I always went for the A. Most of my fellow students did as well. Why? Because we were in the driver's seat! Sure we wanted A's, and once we saw what needed to be accomplished to achieve that goal, nothing could stop us. We loved working independently and seeing our grades be a direct result of our efforts. I still remember doing research on Albert Einstein and explaining the theory of relativity in my little fifth-grade vocabulary.
I had a desire to achieve in an environment that allowed me, the student, to take ownership of my science education. Incidentally, Mr. Richards was also the only teacher I ever had who invited his students and their parents to his home. He took us on nature walks and shared his knowledge hands-on. So he wasn't just abandoning his students to fend for themselves; he merely taught in more ways than one.
What does it mean to give a student ownership of his education? It means the student knows what needs to be done, and he does it to the best of his ability, asking for help as needed. We as parents choose the curriculum and provide an environment conducive to learning, but the actual process of learning and absorbing information is literally up to the student. You can lead a horse to water, after all, but you can't make him drink. What will make the horse drink? Motivation. The key to motivation is ownership.
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