Homeschoolers, meet you at 3pm in your kitchen.

Sucks to be him.

          It’s August 4th and if you are like us, you are eagerly counting the minutes until your kids go back to school. Will you miss them? Sure, but you will quickly get over it when you can hear yourself say a complete sentence without being interrupted by the Mommy/Daddy broken record or having to yell ‘Stop hitting/chasing/tickling/teasing/sitting on your brother/sister!’ We are looking forward to it with the same anticipation of a kid waiting for Santa. Besides, being in school is where our kids will experience the majority of success/failure in their young lives. Ah, the joys of being a kid.


          Lee says: I am firmly against home-schooling. This is my opinion. Many may disagree but I am really not willing to budge on that one. I have family that home school their kids and I find it such a terrible disservice to their children. I, of course, out of respect keep my opinions to myself. What someone does with their child, aside from any type of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, is their business. However, I do see some aspects of home-schooling as abusive.


          First of all, if you have ever lived and worked in the United States, you will agree that there is always an aspect of competition. You compete for a job then constantly surpass your performance to maintain your position. Status quo, at least in the more urban settings, is not an option. In a school, the competition is between students. We grade on a curve. We standardize tests. We give out prizes and create hierarchies called Honor Roll or Principal’s Lists. These rankings are paramount to a child’s ultimate choice of higher education. Little Jimmy’s rank in high school will determine whether they are going to Ivy League, State or Vocational schools.


          But are we putting to much pressure on Little Jimmy to succeed? Is the threat of a career as a Bird Groomer enough to have him study his algebra? Many parents feel that the anxiety surrounding success and competition is too much and it is creating a generation of automatons. I believe that there has to be a motivating factor and competition is the basis of human survival. I hate to get all Darwinian on you but survival of the fittest is alive and well and can be seen in all its glory during college admissions.


          The saddest part in all of this is the parents who are unaware. If you don’t see the big picture, your kid will not receive the pep talks and clarification surrounding moments of purpose like testing and rankings. Like the home-schooled kids, these children will miss their opportunities and scramble for scraps at the end. I realize not every child is made for college and that too much antagonism through competition is unhealthy but the system is what it is. You need to learn to navigate the high seas of comparison and leap victoriously through the hoops of success. Or you can spend the rest of your life making sure Pauly has a nice hairdo. It’s your choice.


          We recently went with our daughter to check out my old alma mater (Loyola Marymount University) and I was amazed at the changes. Kids are getting into schools with 8.0s? What the fuck is an 8.0? In comparison, I was not even half of that kid in high school. So what would my ranking be now? Would I have been as successful had I been born in this generation? I would hope so.


          All I know is that our kids have it rough and it will take some dedicated parents to support them to become who they want to be. I will take bets on my kids versus a home schooled kid any day of the week. They may not know all the states in the union but they could definitely kick their ass on a standardized test or on the playground!


          Paul says: There is so much about homeschooling specifically and a parent’s need to protect their child from every little opportunity to explore the environment of their lives. There is no joy in riding a bike if you remove the threat of gravity. I’m not promoting handing your kid a knife and wishing him luck but there is a need to test the limits in order to find them and, subsequently, gain the success of overcoming them. I guess the bottom line question is this: do your teats come with all 31 flavors?

 

2 comments

  • Hi,

    I listen and called you today on the Miami NPR station. I enjoyed the interview.

    Looking at your post on homeschooling I can understand a little about where you come from.

    However I disagree somewhat with your assessment on competitive nature. No matter what not everyone is going to get into an Ivy league school and it is a failure of parents to expect that of their children. The world needs roofers and electricians even the shake guy at the local fast food joint serves a purpose. Parents fail when the offspring’s level of success does not meet the parents expectations.

    Making sure Pauly has a nice hairdo is not a bad thing. It may be far below the potential you believe your child is capable of, however it may be what makes the child (now an adult) happy. Are you going to look down at this child at the family Thanksgiving day reunion because one child went an Ivy League school has a degree and works for a fortune 500 company and the other does hair for living? Pauly’s IQ could be 190 and speaks three languages and on Thursday his client is getting a perm while the other child shuffles paperwork and just happens to get paid a lot more.

    Family can be a very contrasting nature. Children should become free thinking adults who at some point the parents say I have done what I can and you have the information to move on. How you use it is up to you. That may be the hardest aspect of being a parent. Telling our kids they must be on the honor roll just so they can get into a good school is buttkis. Telling a kid that 3rd grade detention is going on their permanent record and could ruin their future aspirations is just as bad.

    Now I am not a huge fan of homeschooling I am not going to homeschool my child, but I understand why others do. Some for religious reasons which to me on a personal level is ludicrous, but I can understand it. Others because of the failing of the school system in general which I can understand and to a certain degree emphasize with. There will always be a case by case situations where I will support the parents who do. When a child is place in an environment where all that happens is the child is put down or placed into a hostile setting then yes pull the child and homeschool it.

    Being a parent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, just ask your kids.

  • Thank you for your comment. We don’t think that all kids are going to Ivy League schools (Hell, we don’t think our own kids are going to Ivy League schools) However, to think that those are the only places with competition is ridiculous. Life is competition. We compete for jobs, ranking, a friggen’ parking spot. Competition is not just about winning. It is about how they compete. It is how to lose gracefully. It is how to work as a team. How do you do a group project when you are homeschooled and have no siblings? Even working at Mickey D’s is a group project. Aside from the academics, our main concern with homeschooling is the lack of development of leadership skills within an intellectual body. We believe that emotional intelligence is fostered in a regular school setting.

    But we haven’t really thought about this much.

    Thanks again

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