Education in Today’s World
My Road Goes Ever On
Homeschooling As I See It Now
As this school year comes to a close, I must once again reevaluate what Education in Today’s World means to me. Has the human race really learned anything?
My eldest son is twenty-seven now, and the day he was born was my last active day of teaching in the public school system. Though he didn’t technically start “school” until kindergarten, five years later, every mother knows that education starts from the day her child is born. For both the child and the parent.
There are a lot of things to discover and obstacles to navigate those first years, from walking and talking, to the various meanings of tone and expressions. Does “yes” really mean, yes? Does “no” really mean, no? Consequences can be daunting but also magnificent learning tools. So long as a child doesn’t get killed in the process. Balancing the reality of experience and the “Don’t run into traffic!” warning means that a parent has to know for himself or herself what he or she is teaching. Does the parent really mean what he or she is saying? Is he or she willing to pay the price of letting a lesson go unlearned? Because parents pay the price, too, make no mistake.
When I started teaching in public and private schools in the nineteen-eighties, I soon realized that parents could only do so much, and it was up to teachers to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, in crime-ridden neighborhoods, that meant navigating through gangs, guns, and threats to a child’s well-being. The hardest lesson I ever learned was that some parents had no interest in being parents. They were mentally and emotionally children themselves. Recrimination has never been my strong suit, but I have seen the consequences of the lack of a responsible adult in a child’s life. Children may turn to their peers for help, but other children are not a replacement for the wisdom, strength, guidance, and encouragement of an engaged, mature adult.
The trend I have witnessed in the last few decades has been a repeat and rinse cycle of emotionally wounded and—at times, with the handicap of drugs or alcohol—mentally underdeveloped adults trying to raise kids. That includes not only the parents but educators as well.
Coming from a dysfunctional family in a dysfunctional society, I see why many people turn to technology to find support and “the truth” needed to navigate through life—a life raft of reason in a world of unreason. It’s not completely wrong-headed. Technology, in the form of the internet’s vast array of information and teaching tools, has been of immense value in allowing parents, teachers, and students to focus on specific learning objectives and get the skills needed for particular tasks. My kids have learned how to do carpentry work, solve computer problems, write effective essays, understand the inner working of Algebra, visually experience historical events, and engage with a host of other subjects through educational website links.
After COVID, online learning vaulted right into every bastion of education worldwide. The kids I assist through Unbound now have computers and use online resources. Preschoolers know how to use an iPhone to take selfies, kindergarteners follow online teacher aides, and every step of education reaches for the most up-to-date technology in every field of study known to humanity. We are all on the technology learning curve. A steep one that never stops.
AI now plays an ever-increasing role in education, with parents often taking one more step back. Instead of direct education or teacher/parent-managed education, AI programs formulate the systems in place and “creatively” adjust plans for students based on their responses.
Don’t think that I haven’t taken full advantage of technology in the educational arena. My two youngest children learn primarily online, while I am relegated to assistant and overseer. A profound change from how my older kids were educated. In previous years, I might have raged against the scary AIs taking over the world. I probably would now, except for the fact that my younger two are doing quite well. Their scores, as well as their independent educational achievements, speak well of the online educational system in place.
But, and this is an important “But,” I believe that part of the reason it has worked so well is that I am at home with them, present any time they need me. I stop whatever I am doing and assist when they have a problem or are considering new options, trying to process challenging information, or simply want to “talk” about something. I ask questions: How are things going? What are you working on? What resources are you using? Is that a trustworthy site? We discuss research topics, and the kids engage with their brothers and sisters on modern topics that I’m rather clueless about. I make fairly healthy meals on a regular basis, and we eat together whenever possible. We celebrate holidays, birthdays, and “good news” days. Sometimes, we do something fun together for no “reason” at all other than we want a change of pace.
We work together on projects: raising spring chicks, the summer garden, and home improvement projects, and we grieve when bad stuff happens. Bad stuff always happens at some point. Knowing how to deal with hurt is a life tool, too. Helping someone to live through a painful situation is something that no AI program or technological tool can honestly replicate.
Education in our vastly interconnected, technological world is all about discerning goals, building a strong work ethic and good habits, maintaining healthy boundaries, and loving each other along the way.
After all, we learn to live well. Technology may teach us many things, but without love and human connection, can the human race really say it has learned anything?
A. K. Frailey is the author of 17 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction inspirational books, check out
“This book comes as a highly recommended read to uplift anyone’s day! Read it as a daily devotional, offer to a friend, or just sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy.” ~Christian Book Review
“Sometimes I feel sad about things, personal and…the world, and find inspiration in your stories.” ~Edith Fréccia