By Laurel Coatsworth
Universities want creatives and they’ve got an acceptance package ready for your child – if they’re homeschooled that is. The homeschooling practice is one that generates critical reasoning skills and ingenuity. Home educated students have numerous opportunities to explore talents and engage in vocational training all before entering post-secondary. In a home setting, children are free to exercise their creativity without the time constraints that come from moving between classrooms.
Post-secondary recruiters are increasingly seeking out creative individuals, many of whom are homeschooled. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in acceptance rates for homeschooled students in Ivy League schools (Radsken). “The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation,” education expert Dr. Susan Berry recently told Alpha Omega (Weller).
A flexible home schedule allows for more part-time work opportunities and exposure to various vocations, which results in a better prepared worker. This is particularly important, as statistics show that short-term employment is on the rise nationally (Workopolis). There has never been greater demand for adaptability and creativity than in our current workforce.
Innovation in the workforce is here to stay, which begs the question: should students be required to participate inside traditional classroom walls? What benefit can be gained from refusing to adapt an outdated system, in an ever changing culture? The average classroom may, in fact, stifle creativity and one could argue whether schools support creativity at all. In fact, new research maintains that the most creative individuals are typically those who have their heads less in books and more in the outdoors.
Genius is Just a Walk in the Park
Nature therapy is a practice that explores how the mind is renewed through outdoor exposure. Being outdoors actually restores the brain and has a dramatic impact on one’s ability to solve problems creatively (Loria). In one study, individuals who retreated into nature for a period of four days, had a 50% improvement when performing a creative problem solving test (Friedman, Loria). Moreover, after walking in an arboretum, one study showed individuals performed better on a test related to cognition than their city-walking counterparts (Burkley). Famous writers, including Stephen King, have found the simple practice of walking around nature to help them overcome writer’s block (Burkley).
A flexible education like homeschooling can supply such a backdrop for a creative boost. Frequent outdoor play has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive and creative abilities, which can help them in a creative workforce later on. Eliminate the rigid context of a classroom and creativity has a chance to flourish. Curriculum, while sometimes static in a classroom, can be more dynamic in a home setting. Parents are able to adjust the pace and content according to their child’s needs and talents. This is particularly helpful for parents who have children with learning difficulties. The pressure of completing tasks within a short time frame is eliminated, allowing the child to focus better and achieve a greater academic success. Home education allows a child to quickly become a self-directed learner that is able to problem solve efficiently. Not having the same format as a public school system, where the child’s time is divided up for them, they must learn how to organize their time and energy in a way that produces the greatest academic gain.
Room for Growth
We must ask ourselves: does the educational system have a major flaw? Sir Ken Robinson, veteran teacher and prominent speaker on creativity in the classroom, seems to think so. In his book “The Element” Robinson puts the public school system under scrutiny. “Public schools were not only created in the interests of industrialism—they were created in the image of industrialism. In many ways, they reflect the factory culture they were designed to support. This is especially true in high schools, where school systems base education on the principles of the assembly line and the efficient division of labor. Schools divide the curriculum into specialist segments: some teachers install math in the students, and others install history. They arrange the day into standard units of time, marked out by the ringing of bells, much like a factory announcing the beginning of the workday and the end of breaks. Students are educated in batches, according to age, as if the most important thing they have in common is their date of manufacture. They are given standardized tests at set points and compared with each other before being sent out onto the market (Robinson).
The current education system simply wasn’t built to foster creative thought. A study conducted by the Fraser Institute touches on why this is the case. In, “Why Canadian Education Isn’t Improving,” the issue of compliance versus performance driven schools is examined. “The focus on compliance undermines the development and evaluation of new ideas. Not only should a good education system be able to offer the schooling options families want, it should also have the flexibility and incentive to experiment with new programs (Merrifield, Dare, and Hepburn).
Teachers and students continue to operate in an outdated framework. Much like ancient times, where one priest had access to all knowledge, teachers instruct in such a way that they appear to have the exclusive key to information. In an era of mass communication, a singular approach loses its power and becomes meaningless as all take the role of the priest, as keepers of knowledge.
Ingenuity is often a result of progressive systems and, though homeschooling is not a new practice, its framework is far more malleable than its educational counterparts are. As a society, we should be open to changing our idea of what it means to be educated, even if it exposes us to less charted waters like home education.
Radsken, Jill. Homeschooled en route to Harvard. The Harvard Gazette, February 21, 2018: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/02/three-harvard-students-on-lessons-of-homeschooling/ Accessed 22. June. 2018.
Weller, Chris. There’s a new path to Harvard and it’s not in the classroom. Business Insider, September 3, 2015: http://www.businessinsider.com/homeschooling-is-the-new-path-to-harvard-2015-9 Accessed 22. June. 2018.
Workopolis. Job hopping is the new normal. April 17, 2014: https://careers.workopolis.com/advice/job-hopping-is-the-new-normal/ Accessed 23. June. 2018.
Loria, Kevin. Being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure- here are 12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors. Business Insider, April 22, 2018: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-spending-more-time-outside-is-healthy-2017-7#you-may-perform-better-on-creative-tasks-after-being-outside-9 Accessed 22. June. 2018.
Friedman, Lauren F, Kevin, Loria. 11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside. Tech Insider-Business Insider, April 22, 2016: http://www.businessinsider.com/scientific-benefits-of-nature-outdoors-2016-4#7-sharper-thinking-and-creativity-7 Accessed 23. June. 2018.
Burkley, Melissa. “Get Some Fresh Air” to Boost Your Creativity. Psychology Today, December 14, 2017: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-social-thinker/201712/get-some-fresh-air-boost-your-creativity Accessed 21. June. 2018.
Robinson, Ken. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2009. Print.
Merrifield, John, Dare, Malkin, and Hepburn, Claudia R. Studies in Education Policy: Why Canadian Education Isn’t Improving. A Fraser Institute Occasional Paper, September 2006: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/WhyCanadianEducationIsntImproving.pdf
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