Independent thinking

1 Apr

Years ago, I was called into the school for a session with the school psychologist.  My daughter, then in primary grades, had just been through a battery of tests.  The school was armed with a long list of learning disabilities, and I was a bit overwhelmed by their “diagnosis” and demands.

In the course of our conversation, the psychologist announces in a disdainful voice, as though we had some type of social disease, that my daughter was an “independent thinker” and that I obviously was too.  I was shocked.

Wasn’t independent thinking something that all parents hope their children exhibit?

Apparently not, and it was also something that the school system did not encourage either.  To me, the opposite of independent thinking is essentially a herd mentality.

Is this what the public school system is encouraging?

I’ll admit, I made some serious mistakes in terms of her education and the public school system.  I didn’t take her out and home school her until she was in the 8th grade, at the same time that I discovered that she was functionally illiterate, and it wasn’t due to any cognitive deficiencies either.  She had been outsmarting the “professionals” in the school system for years.

With a family that put high value on books and reading, it was an appalling situation.  She had to learn to read and write effectively, or she was going to face a life severely handicapped by her inability to do so.

To make a long story short, she did learn to read and write.  It wasn’t easy, and as any mother knows…mothers and daughters at that age have enough conflicts to begin with, and adding this issue made the equation very difficult.  She didn’t like me very much for a while, but I’m thrilled that today, as a mother herself, she can not only read and write effectively, she reads for enjoyment.

That’s a long ways from the 8th grader that couldn’t tell time on a clock face or read a menu in a restaurant or take a phone message that was understandable by anyone (even herself.)  Her learning disabilities didn’t vanish, they still existed, the difference was in how they were being managed when she was faced with a teacher that was also Mom.  Busy work vanished, instead she got practical practice at reading and writing.  Excuses also vanished, because instead of dealing with tests and I-can’t-do-that or I-don’t-know, there was okay, it’s hard, but if you do it like this, maybe it will be easier.

I didn’t care if she read from a reading book, a comic book, a novel, or the latest dog show catalog…I just wanted her to be able to read!

After being home schooled, at seventeen she took a GED course and obtained her GED.  

Do I think she missed out on things?

Yes, but she was frequently hospitalized from age 15-18 due to Type 1 diabetes complications.  She would have had a lot of trouble passing classes in the traditional public high school because of these frequent absences as well.  She would have also been dealing with more peer pressure, continued mismanagement of her learning disabilities, and her functional illiteracy would have been continually masked.  In addition, since she had been raised to question things that she found contradictory, unfair, unreasonable, or wrong, she would have been regarded as a “problem student.”

Not that she was an angel.  She was a challenge her entire life.  She can still be “hard headed” and “stubborn” about some things, and on occasion, I’ll even accuse her of being narrow minded.  I am still immensely proud of her and the person she has become.  I not only love her intensely, but I like her too.  I really enjoy doing things with her.  I know she isn’t perfect, but I haven’t met a perfect person yet.

But back to the independent thinking thing.

Why would a public school encourage a “herd mentality” versus the independent thinking?

Herds are easier to manage.  They don’t question authority, they just do as they are told.  The teacher and other staff are always right, and the status quo is maintained.  These students grow up and go on to college, technical schools, and the work force, carrying along their sheep-like herding tendencies. They pay taxes, vote, and raise their family to also stay within the herd.

It’s a conspiracy to erase the independent thinking and ingenuity that has created this country.  We are now facing the second generation of widespread encouragement of this herd mentality and what do we have?

A disastrous economy, politicians that are more corrupt than ever, increasingly restrictive laws, virtually no privacy, increasing instances of censorship,  rampant crime, high rates of debt, lack of industry…

And a whole lot of sheeple.

Don’t let “them” turn your kids into sheeple.  Don’t join the herd yourself.  Practice independent thinking, follow your own conscience and heart.  Reward your kids for doing what my dad always called “using your head for something besides a hat rack.”  Wood makes a better hat rack anyhow!


5 Responses to “Independent thinking”

  1. Beverly April 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Good for you. Homeschooling is hard, but it sounds like you got the rewards.

    • giascott April 1, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

      The only part of home schooling that I can say I regret is that I waited so long. It was definitely worth it!

  2. Pamela Jones April 2, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    I love this! A lot of people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that I’d like to home school my kids should I ever have any. It’s not that I want to shelter them. I want to challenge them and show them how life really works. I want to raise independent thinkers, not “sheeple!” In my experience, that’s all public schools offer. The teacher just want to get through the day with as little hardship as possible. If that means creating a herd, that’s what they’ll do.
    More people should follow your example. Maybe the straightening out of this world can be expedited and experienced with a lot less pain if we start raising kids who challenged their teachers from time to time.

    • giascott April 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      For some reason, a lot of people don’t realize that there is a difference between simple defiance and questioning what you are told. While questioning a teacher’s statement could be defiance based, it can also be done without being simply rude and defiant. As a parent, I KNOW that having a kid continually question what is said can be a pain in the butt, but there were also times when “it’s a rule because I said so” became the reply. Of course, her reply was “when I’m grown up, I’m NOT going to do that!” (I wonder if she realizes how many things she does now that she made that statement about “way back when”?)

  3. morezennow April 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been sick but better late than never!
    I loved your post. A lot of kids slip through the cracks of our educational system but it’s also the parents’ responsibility to see what’s going on. You should be the poster-mom for all parents.
    And here’s to eradicating the herd mentality (love that line) and headstrong daughters (got two of ’em)!!

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