As people mention what they are using, I go and check it out. Oooh shiny! I love books, so it is very hard for me to resist temptation. In fact, usually there is a week or so when I ask my husband, "Are we doing the right thing? Should we get this curriculum here? Look at this big box of books you get, and everything is all laid out for you, and...."
And that's the problem. It is SO EASY to fall back into that "conveyor belt" mentality that is discussed in "A Thomas Jefferson Education." It's so easy to sit back and let everyone else do the thinking, the planning. It's so easy to ignore that Core Phase that is VITAL to both you and your child's development as a whole person who doesn't need someone else to tell them what to do or how to live. I mean, on the surface, Core Phase looks easy, like you just let your kid play all day, and do whatever he wants. But when you actually do it, when you actually are in the trenches inspiring that "right/wrong, good/evil, true/false," you can see how very hard it is. I see kids every day who did not get a solid core phase. I see adults every day who did not get a solid core phase. I don't want my son growing up like that.
My son is very much transitioning into Love of Learning phase now. He spends a huge portion of the day reading to himself, looking at books, asking questions, experimenting. I did nothing to make him do this, other than showing him through example that learning is a part of life, and a fun part, at that. Now, while any child is in Love of Learning, Core is still there, at the Core, and we have to revisit it often. We do our family work together, and when we see examples of situations, we talk about right vs. wrong, etc. Each level builds on the other, but you are never "finished" with the previous one.
Staying off the conveyor belt is hard. As I said, it is easy to have someone tell you what to do all the time. It's easy to be a sheep, and that's why we have an entire nation full of them. But in order for our nation to remain strong, to be a leader in this new global society of ours, we need people who are NOT sheep, in every discipline. We need scientists, politicians, educators, community leaders, who are not afraid to step out of line and do what they believe is right, and not just follow the rear end in front of them. We need people who have developed self-discipline, we need people not afraid to do the hard things. We need people who are not wrapped up in themselves, who can look around in the world and see the potential in it as a whole.
We won't get that by following a one-size-fits-all mentality. Our children are not products who should go through a system and come out with a stamp of approval at the end that means nothing other than that they jumped through all the hoops, that they achieved the minimum, that they passed the test. All we'll get with that is a society of mediocrity, of complacence.
If you want more than this for your children (and indeed, the world), then take the brave step off of the conveyor belt, and do what is right for YOUR child. Give him a solid start at home, show him where his foundation is. Build a strong family, and then branch out to the community slowly. Expose him to people other than his "peers," let him see that there are many people out there he needs to be able to relate to, not just a group of kids his age. Above all, be an inspiration to that child. Do the things you don't feel like doing but you know are right. Take the hard road.
Isn't your child worth it?