- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 14, 2008

Noted author and speaker David Albert was hosted by The Washington Times on Sept. 4 in a personal talk and dialogue with about 40 area home-schoolers.

Thanks to Jacquie Kubin and Joe Szadkowski, fellow Times writers, and David Eldridge and Jeffrey Lea, who direct many of The Times’ Web efforts, the gathering was arranged with “red carpet” treatment.

For those not yet aware, The Washington Times has long provided a key platform for home-schoolers to have a voice in the nation’s capital. To my knowledge, it is still the only major news agency in the nation - and probably the world - to do so. This has been central to giving home educating families a chance to present issues of importance and to share resources - and even indirectly to help support educators in other venues as well.

The afternoon roundtable event highlighted The Times’ focus on education, as well as family-centered public policy. Mr. Albert fairly bristles with academic honors - degrees from Williams College, Oxford University and the University of Chicago - and has authored an armload of books on educational topics. Editor and publisher of John Taylor Gatto’s works, he is also a social entrepreneur, heavily involved in issues relating to human empowerment, both domestically and in the international arena.

As a home-schooling dad to two daughters, Aliyah and Meera, both now launched into their college and professional lives, he has a unique perspective on how home-schooling works.

“Love,” he responded, succinctly, when asked why home-schoolers seem to learn more efficiently than their peers. It’s the emotional connection, he believes, that empowers the information transfer.

In fact, he encouraged the audience to dismantle their “inner school,” the set of assumptions we each carry inside about what is educational and what isn’t. The listeners groaned as we recognized some of our own (former or current) myths.

Mr. Albert pointed out the illogic of assuming some omniscient authority exists with greater knowledge of our children’s abilities than we parents. Each child, he explained, is a unique character, with specific talents, interests and abilities. One may learn by reading, another by listening to people, another through exploring. Our task, as parent/educators, is to prepare each of them for their own life success - which is to be measured by their own ability to live well.

Sharing his own experiences as a parent/educator, he reminded us that we parents can choose to learn new things and accomplish new goals and dreams ourselves.

One booby trap we often fall into is a sense that we may be missing something - that we are insufficient as instructors, and that our insecurities will cause our children to have some type of failure. Another leftover from the “inner school” is the idea that people need to be educated according to some universal plan. Some basics are important, but we should resist the urge to create a homogenized education approach.

What Mr. Albert stresses is that education is not just intellectual, but an emotional, spiritual, physical experience. For more information on his books, his seminars and his international work, check his Web site (www.skylarksings.com).

And to share your views on home-schooling - your successes, your worries, your questions - please visit our blog, Home School Galaxy (www.washingtontimes.com/communities).

  • Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a freelance writer who lives in Maryland.

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