Home schooling isn't what I thought

posted by Jeff | Thursday, December 27, 2012, 12:42 AM | comments: 1

If there's anything that I try to be extra open-minded about, it's anything that concerns parenting. I've got one kid, and one shot at not screwing him up too much. I've got less than 20 years to do the best I can and send him out into the world. His education is important to me, and I'm grateful for the subsidized programs that are helping him catch up with regard to his delayed development issues, however minor they might be in the long run. I'm also painfully aware that moving to Florida would be suboptimal because the schools there suck so much, and that's a bummer because I really like warm weather and palm trees.

Home schooling always struck me as an odd choice that would lead to socially screwed up kids. This belief wasn't based on any actual data, just assumptions. Beliefs and values around education in the US are a lot like religion. We're given a set of values at an early age, and we grow up with them as the holy word, but we don't choose them. And it's an entire spectrum that includes everything from preschool to college. Where did you get your education virtues? The same place you got religion: From your parents and community. Most of us don't question these virtues, and just accept them (that goes for education and religion).

I was already reading Penelope Trunk's blog about careers, and it turns out she also writes one about home schooling. Her posts are often about her experience, but they're so full of links to research, including this one about why she home schools, that it's too fascinating to not read. Not only is there little research that illustrates the negatives of home schooling, but it tends to go the opposite way. Pair this with the fact that public school education is so filled with problems and suddenly home schooling seems like a much better way to go.

When I posted a link to this blog on Facebook, one friend gave me an "are you serious?" kind of response. It wasn't long after that another friend, a former public school teacher who now home schools her kids, chimed in.

I'm not sure why I'm so surprised that home schooling is not only viable, but maybe even preferable, beyond the fact that I have been conditioned to thinking otherwise by the dogma that says preschool to college is the right thing. I should know better, because school failed me in countless ways that I can see now. Even the resulting metrics of school didn't make sense. If I get a 2.9 GPA in high school, and that's with the benefit of weighted grades for honors classes, and blow away all but 4% of the kids taking the ACT, clearly something isn't right.

The truth of the matter is that it's unlikely we'll home school Simon. My earning potential is too high, and Diana would like at some point to reenter the workforce. We have no intention of doing all of the stupid shit that parents like to do now (like holding back their kid or whatever), but if he's not being challenged, or not getting what he needs out of school, we'll be sure to look at our options to make sure he does get what he needs.



December 27, 2012, 10:11 AM #

I love reading Penelope. She's an absolute train-wreck of a person, but behind all of the melodrama she aggregates a lot of good resources.

I've thought about home-schooling my kids, but have not taken the plunge, for many of the same reasons you've noted. For now they are in a local public charter school, which seems to be working ok. I like, however, that home-schooling seems to be becoming a more and more viable option as time goes by.

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