How Shamus Learned

Shamus Young, author of How I Learned, was labeled “learning disabled” back before that was a trendy thing. He was sent to special ed classes and heavily medicated for much of his childhood. On his own time, he discovered an affinity for computers and taught himself, painstakingly from the ground up, how to program.

Why I Homeschool

This. THIS is why I homeschool my kids. I did not have a terrible school experience as Shamus did; in fact I skated through pretty easily and without attracting too much attention except for my good grades. But even so, school was not a good “fit” for me. I was rarely challenged and got the grade without having to study; I was bored out of my mind for most of every day and only my low-key personality and good home life kept me from getting into trouble.

Most people would point to me as a great example of how school works well, but the questions Shamus so cogently asks cast my own feelings about school into sharp relief:

“Did school help this person to reach their full potential?” No, it absolutely did not.

“Could they have learned more on their own?” Oh yes, I firmly believe that school held me back, and that most of what I did learn came from my own extra-curricular reading and exploring.

“Could they have learned faster using some other system of instruction?” Absolutely. I can’t begin to count the times I had to sit while the class went over and over and over a point of instruction that I knew before the teacher opened her mouth, or I got on the first explanation.

Industrial factory schooling is not a good fit, in fact, for most kids, not just the obvious misfits such as Shamus.

Public School Canaries

Kids like Shamus are the canaries in the coal mine of the public school. Like the canaries sent down coal mine shafts to test the breathability of the air, who show the ill effects of bad air far sooner than the grown humans who worked those mines, these “problem” children in schools are the first ones to show that there is something wrong with the way the industrial system treats our children.

We need to read Shamus’s story with the understanding that when the most susceptible children react so very visibly to experiences in a “normal” school, then we need to be seriously worried about how it is affecting all of our children.

Read Shamus’s story and think about what the death of a canary means for your own child in the public school mines.

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