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Half the people that work with me do stupid shit like spend their entire paycheck on a new phone, and then are running around at the end of the month, trying to borrow money for rent, get an extension on their gas bill, canceling their cable TV (for the 8th time) to scrounge up enough cash to cover their electric bill.
This shit is because we waste time and money teaching kids how to do things most of them will never use (code, geology, advanced calculus, whatever) and neglecting to instill basic practical knowledge.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should never teach these advanced concepts and skills, but we need to be sure that worthwhile basics have been covered first, then introduce these more abstract and advanced subjects, and if a student expresses interest in them, shuttle them into appropriate advanced courses. Just shotgunning the population with "learn to code" is a waste of resources.
Hi, My name might be Jarik, and I was homeschooled.
Wow, sounds like we're at homeschoolers anonymous. But that is sort of how it is. There is a sort of stigmata (and a lot of misinformation) about home schooling, and I'm here to tell you about it.
1. They are a bunch of Religious nuts.
We've all meet them, the guy that says he was homeschooled because Moses appeared to his parents in a stain on the mattress, and now he's enrolled online to become an ordained minister of the church of the blind chihuahua. The truth is, he's just nuts. A lot of people are home schooled, and for a lot of reasons. Personally, me and my sister where homeschooled because where we lived for the first fifteen years of my life was nineteen miles from the nearest school bus stop, over roads that where not much different from a goat path, and after the first snow, the county would get around to plowing them sometime around June. It was just not practical to try and send two kids to school, and so we learned at home. We followed a schedule, did our work every morning, and usually where done and out to play by 2pm. That is not to say that every homeschooling situation is the same as mine, in fact, they vary quite a bit, but the point is, a lot of people resort to homeschooling because its the only reasonable choice available. On the other hand, some of them are religious nuts.
When I was 16, My Mom (Who was the teacher in my family) Decided we needed some socialization or something, and started taking us to a local homeschool group writing class, taught by the mother of another family. Lots of homeschool kids from around the area came to learn to write better, and this is where I met my first 'homeschool weirdo'.
At first, I attributed it to southern culture. (we had recently transplanted ourselves into Texas, from Montana) But after we got to know them more, we realized they where simply not like other people. They talked like they where from the 1800's dressed like they where from the 1920's and maintained eye contact for to long. Or something. It all finally made sense, when the teacher was talking to us about swearing. I have no idea how we went from prepositions and adverbs to that topic, but she finally made the statement that saying "Gee!" and "Gosh!" where the same thing as saying "JESUS CHRIST!" or "GOD DAMN IT." Now, I'm from what most people would call pretty conservative family, but that statement seemed a bit over the top, even to me. Fortunately, It was around that time that I had earned enough personal autonomy to decide not to go to that class anymore. Also, my mom thought that ladies idea was nuts.
2. They are all a bunch of Weirdos.
So you've probably been there, in some party, and there is that one guy that just plain weird. Socially inept, tells creepy jokes, stands funny, something is just off about the guy. While your at the punch bowl, spiking it from your hip flask, you ask the host, "hey, whats up with Josephus? whats his deal?" The host looks at you, wondering who you are and how you got into his apartment, then shakes it off and replies; "Oh yeah, don''t you know? he was homeschooled." More or less. What i'm trying to say is, there is a peculiar brand of weirdo that homeschooling seems to spawn sometimes. Sometimes. One of my co-workers was also homeschooled, and we joke about this. Personally, it feels like cult culture to me. If you've ever watched a documentary about any cult where they interview members, you'll know what I mean. They have this peculiar attitude that what they have learned from their cult is the only things a person can need to know. I attribute that to a lack of outside ideas, and the same thing can happen in homeschooling. If you only ever learn things from one source, and are taught that source is infallible, your outlook on life gets skewed pretty fast. I had the good fortune that my Mom was not a narcissist, and knew to let other people teach her kids things. My co-worker spent time both homeschooled, and in public school. The point is, some people use homeschooling as a way to brainwash their kids, and it shows. Fortunately, not everyone is like that, and allow outside ideas into their kids minds, and thousands of us weirdos pass into public life without being noticeably weird.
3. Its not a good education.
Some people assume that homeschooled kids are not getting a good education. This probably is true for some kids, but for plenty more, the opposite is true. Here is the part where I toot my own horn. By the time I was 16, I had basically reached a point where my mom could not teach me anything more. The math books I was working through where beyond her, and I was getting bored. So finally, the summer before I turned 17, my parents gave me an ultimatum. Either get a full time job, or go to college. Because I was barely 17, I decided to go to college. I took (and passed with flying colors) the GED, and enrolled in the spring semester at the local 4 year school. I graduated 4 years later on the dot. My little sister somehow managed to start collage when she was 16. I never thought of myself as particularly smart, but as I got farther into college, I realized that, as long as I attended class every day, I could get A's and B's without ever opening my textbooks. My sister reversed that system, skipping class, but blasting through textbooks, and getting mostly all A's. (My sister is smarter than I am, and its scary). At one point, my roommate and I where in a couple of the same classes. I drove him nuts. He would be sitting there, nose in the textbook for our class, studying for the test the next day, While I played World of Warcraft. When we got the test results back, I outscored him. So yeah, apparently, I absorb information easily. Eventually, we started comparing notes about our childhoods. My roommate told me that he had been put on just about every medication for ADHD there was during his school years. He said it was like living in glue. He once told me "The reason I screwed around in class was because I had already read those chapters in the book, already knew what the teacher was talking about, and was bored."
I can look back at my own childhood, and deduce that if I had gone to his school, I would have been in the same boat. My behavior was the same. Even my parents agree that, in a public school, I would have been medicated. Now Im not claiming be smarter than everyone else, I'm simply saying that because I was homeschooled, I had several advantages that public school does not offer. I could learn at my own pace, be that slowly, in a subject that was difficult for me, or rapidly, in subjects I excelled at. The result was, by the time I started college, I had learned the most important lesson of all, 'How to Learn'. For the most part, that is all they are trying to teach you in school anyways. Calculus will never save most of our lives, and I don't remember anything from high school level chemistry, but I did learn how to absorb information, and that has served me well. Of course, there are people who use the "Let there child discover the world on their own" version of homeschooling, and their kids are the ones that take remedial math 1301 in collage three times before they pass it, and major in pot smoking and liberal arts, so it can swing the other way also.
4. But what about subject X?
This does not come up a lot, but some people wonder how in the hell you can learn high school chemistry, or some other subject, in your house. As it turns out, its pretty easy. You get a catalog, (or now days, the internet) pick out a course that sounds cool, pay money, and they send you a box with stuff in it. There is a vast pool of resources available to home educators. Entire companies exist to supply textbooks, coursework, teachers manuals, and educational devices to people who want to teach their kids, or just want to lean something themselves. Since the invention of the internet, that availability has multiplied untold amounts. We learned things that I've never met anyone else that learned in grade school. One year, we did 'Mapping' I'm sure it had a real name, but thats what we called it. It started out with the first assignment being to draw a map of the world on the provided graph paper. I think mine was missing two continents. By the end of the course, we could draw, from memory, a detailed map of the world. It was awesome. We did art classes, language classes, science, you name it. DVD's with instructors, audio tapes, the list goes on. When it comes right down to it, especially now days with collages and schools putting entire courses online for people to use, If you want to learn something, the only thing that is stopping you is the fact that netflix has most of the episodes of your favorite childhood tv show.
5. They just hate the government.
There is some truth to this I suppose. There always is, always has been, and always will be the people out there on the fringes that totally distrust any organized institution, and simply refuse to have anything to do with it, including allowing their kids to go to public school. These are also the same crazy assholes that hole up in compounds, claiming the world is ending, and that the US government is the antichrist. These are the sort of people that give my education a bad name. For every person out there that is using homeschool to brainwash their kids, avoid the government, or uphold some obscure religious tenant, there are hundreds of us quietly getting a good education, while remaining mostly well adjusted.
6. But do they meet the standards?
There is a lot of debate in some states about testing requirements and certification requirements to homeschool your kids. Having been home schooled, and being friends with several public school teachers, I think peoples time would be better spent trying to improve public schools, not butting in on people who are taking the time to actually educate their own children, instead of foisting them off on others and expecting them to educate them. There are approximately two million kids being home schooled in the US today, compare that to the 55 million kids in public school. Some of the statistics say that as many as 1.2 million students drop out of high school every year. I think that is a far more pressing matter.