The title explains that this is a story of higher education; but more than that, my journey to get here. I recently made a change to my path of higher education, and this is the story of why. This true tale of my personal and educational history will help you to understand my convictions, beliefs, passions and weaknesses. I hope it inspires, enlightens or at the very least, amuses you.
Part One – Origins: Homeschooling
Education to me has never meant the same thing that it does to many others. I’ve been homeschooled my whole life and have always taken a different approach to learning. The term “homeschooler” may have widely accepted synonyms like introvert, nerd, or sheltered popping into your heads, but my word association game would lead me to think of words like adventure, growth, experience, and family. Needless to say, my education growing up was unique. I had to meet all the same educational credit requirements as all the other kids, but being homeschooled allowed me to zero in on what interested me most and learn in a way that best suited my learning style.
I did a couple independent studies in high school, teaching me to use the resources I found to make my own curriculum. This gave me the tools to become the type of researcher capable of gathering the information to satisfy all of my inquiries, and the skill of creative thinking needed to apply it. My philosophy became “I do not know everything, but I can figure it out.” I learned a lot from field trips, real world experiences and just asking questions. That is what education meant to me – it’s what education means to me. Not learning what is printed in your text books or lectured to you in a class but instead taking the initiative to discover what the world has to offer, coming up with crazy questions and having the understanding and motivation to get the answers. To me, education is just as much of a verb as learning or running or hula hooping.
Homeschooling brings families together, and gives them a chance to connect in a way that I believe you lose by going to school. My mom was and always will be the best teacher I ever had. She got to know me personally and discovered how I learn, and then took the time to find the curriculum that fit me and my learning style the best. She knows how my brain works better than I do! That’s love and commitment and a strong connection that you can’t get in public schools. You can’t get the type of strong values my parents taught me about in any type of public institution.
My mom was my teacher and we had a wonderful connection strengthened by the experience of homeschooling. My dad, however, also played a critical role in crafting my mind and the person I am today. My dad is goofy. He asks questions like “if you could be any breed of dog what kind of dog would you be and why?” I always thought he was so weird… until we started to take him seriously. Eventually we would start to answer his eccentric inquiries with a real, critically thought out answer and bam! before you knew it we were invested in each other’s answers and learning something new about one another. I use those questions today to break the ice and discover new strengths with the employees at my work.
Admittedly I have ripped off a few ice breakers and some really bad jokes from my dad, but my parents did raise me to be a fiercely independent thinker. We agree most of the time, but when we don’t we can respectfully debate until we’re blue in the face. I find that my relationship with my dad is strengthened by these debates.
My education and the crafting of my mind went way beyond some desk during dedicated school hours. [I apologize in advanced for the cliché I’m about to use, but] that’s the beauty of homeschooling: the world is your classroom.