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A Commuted Sentence

Copyright 1992 © N.S. Gill

On March 3 my son is scheduled to begin his eleven year prison sentence. We're lucky though. In most states, under sentencing guidelines, he would have started a twelve year sentence a year ago.
blank space On that fateful date my son turns seven. His crime? Incipient, independent thought. But we will not sit by complacently, waiting for the daily visiting hours from three until bedtime. To send our son to the state school would mean that we accept the state's right to indoctrinate our son; that we accept the notion that children must be made miserable so they will accept the yoke of dull, degrading work later in life -- willingly; that we believe that reading, writing and arithmetic are so very difficult that they can only be learned by being pumped in by state certified mechanics; that we believe in the gospel of integration by busing; that we rescind our right to teach our beliefs and values; that we accept the virtue of the seven lesson school curriculum described by John Taylor Gatto in Dumbing Us Down: confusion, conditional self- esteem, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, surveillance, and class position,
blank space Instead, he will learn the way generations of American families and their ancestors have learned, in the way that between 300,000 and 600,000 current American families are learning --through homeschooling. Since we find coercion morally offensive, we are not merely replacing one stultifying curriculum with another; instead, we use a method that has proven to be effective, the method with which our son learned to walk at one, the method through which he learned the English language at two, the same method he used to learn to operate the computer by three. John Holt has characterized it as "intrinsically motivated thematically interconnected organic learning."
blank space It is commonly called unschooling or student-directed learning. My job is to provide instruction when he asks for it; to provide transportation to the library, bookstore, park, to plays, exhibitions, or friends' houses--at least until he's comfortable taking the bus there himself; to provide resources; to inspire him; to read to him; to help him see both sides of issues; to trust him and his
blank space Another important part of my job is to ensure the survival of our legal right to homeschool. To this end we must either compromise or be willing to go to court. Since I am not anxious to incur legal costs, I intend to prepare our son for some of the currently mandated school procedures, like annual registration and testing.
blank space As to reading, writing and arithmetic...I suppose we'll set aside the requisite 100 hours some day. I just hope he hasn't advanced too far beyond algebra by the time we infuse him with the basics.
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Originally printed in Minnesota Libertarian.(1992) Copyright © 1996 & 1997 N. S. Gill.

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