Despite their young age, children have the capacity to develop passions just as intense as any other person in a subject that truly interests them. Two of the greatest gifts to a child are the gift of free time and the gift of supportive, strong, compassionate mentors. These allow a child to feel independent yet safe, and gives them the opportunity to explore different areas that a formal school may not permit due to time constraints or lack of teachers/supervision/supplies/space.
I think that children should be allowed more and more freedom to direct their own education as they get older. As young children, they often need a helping hand with projects that might be too dangerous without an adult. And sometimes a child will find an activity they love to do when another person introduces them to it and urges them to give it a try. But once they begin to mature, there is great benefit in allowing them liberty to pursue their own interests.
Teaching oneself is a very important skill to acquire. Ivan Illich, who wrote about the education system, said, “School prepares for the alienating institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.” Teachers are not necessarily needed for all subjects; in fact, quite a few things can be self-taught, due to the widespread availability of public libraries, free or inexpensive resources at colleges and community centers, and especially the internet. Even young children have the capability of watching Youtube videos or visiting how-to websites that can give them information for pretty much any subject they care to investigate. If a person ever falls under the lie that they need to be spoon-fed (or often, force-fed) something in order to learn it, then their mind has lost a great deal of growth potential. Once a student is no longer in school, they become a student of the world around them, and if they do not take the time to actively pursue their own education, then they will either stagnate in their mental growth or become subject to the whims of their environment.
Here is a list of the activities my mom, sister, and I explored from the time I was born until the time I left the house. All of them were interesting to learn and beneficial in some way for our development into the people we are now. Some things we only tried a few times, but they were all quite intriguing! I still do quite a few of these things today.
Staring out the window