Home Schoolers

Lindsay and I agree that neither of us is particularly suited to home school our kids. I don’t have the patience and she doesn’t know enough facts. If you want to see my wife scramble, ask her the name of the first man to orbit the earth, or why fire is hot.

I suppose we could do it together, but, save starting a band, there’s probably no better way to ruin a marriage than a joint teaching venture. If we have trouble agreeing on how often our kids’ hair should be washed, how can we possibly find common ground when it comes to the bubonic plague, parallelograms, Van Gogh, volcanoes, robots, love, flatulence, West Virginia mining, Karl Marx, aerodynamics, Native Americans, water purification, congruency, Erlenmeyer flasks, and menopause.

I’m certainly drawn to the idea of letting them follow their own talents and interests without being sidetracked by disciplines that don’t suit them. “Put down that guitar and finish those mathematical proofs” seems like child abuse.

School is a vestige of the industrial revolution, and still primarily focused on producing disciplined factory workers. Sure, there have been some modern improvements like “art” and “music”, but since the Bush administration instituted No Child Left Behind, primary education has become even more regimented. When ten year-olds start losing hair from the stress caused by government mandated tests, I feel like I’m living in a world run by a gaggle of tiger moms.

I hate the idea of my kids sitting in school wishing they were doing something else. Even if that something else is drinking Old Milwaukee on the train tracks behind Nicky Mclead’s house. I learned a lot more about life (particularly the purpose of vaginas) there than I did in organic chemistry. I fought valiantly for a C- in that class and remember absolutely nothing. But if it wasn’t for canned beer and railroad tracks I might never have become a father.

Of course there has to be some discipline; home schooling your kids doesn’t mean they spend all day swilling booze with their Mormon friends (the majority of home schooled kids are Mormon. I made that up, but it might be true). That’s what Brigham Young University is for.

Instead of forcing your kids to diagram a sentence, why not give them a hunk of clay and leave the room for a while? Honestly, which is better for  them? If you’re thinking the grammar lesson, your name is Mrs. Blanchard and you made me fear language when I was eleven.

There are great private schools for the children of people who run hedge funds. There are also a handful of fantastic public schools that aren’t under the No Child Left Behind mandate, but unless you live in the right district, you’ll have to fist fight triathlete moms with botoxed cleavage to secure your kid a spot.

Everyone I know who’s happy and creative achieved that state in spite of their education. Do I trust that my kids can survive like I did — albeit barely?

Maybe I’m where I am today because school was so awful. We make our best friends at school because we’re bonded over the shared suffering, which in turn drives us to creative outlets for sanity. Our love for playing music was born from boredom. Without alienated midwestern teens, the world’s angst reserves might run dry.

Then again, maybe if we try too hard to give our boys a certain type of life and steer them in a particular direction, they’ll be tempted to do the opposite. Honestly, the last thing I want in my family is a Republican senator. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love him, but he probably wouldn’t get my vote.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here http://bit.ly/1exfm34. Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

31 comments On Home Schoolers

  • I just started homeschooling my daughter this year. I always wanted to before now but she never listened to me as well as she did to others. However after kindergarten she saw an ad for k12.com and asked if she could homeschool. I admire teachers and all they do but for her and myself it is the right decision right now (it might change in the future). It has worked out better than I hoped. My dd has always been shy, even in public school, but she has opened up since homeschooling. She is active in two co-ops, girl scouts and programs at the YMCA just to name a few of the socialization opportunities she has. One of the classes she takes is even show and tell so she learns public speaking and thought organization. For foreign languages right now she does Dora but will be going to an immersion class at one of her co-ops next year. She will choose between Latin, French and Spanish. There is recess and group lunch. We do workbooks and online computer classes that monitor and test her knowledge. Basically it all falls down to if you are comfortable with it and willing to do it. Also it depends on the homeschooling community since I know not all of them have such a support group and opportunities. Just wanted to chime in. (p.s. my husband is an instructor so I know teachers are not just people with a piece of paper.)

  • BRAVO!! I'm posting this for all the teachers I know and work with.

  • If you have a moment perhaps you might be willing to look at my post on this subject. It's the only time I've really ranted and I feel very strongly about why home-schooling is generally a bad idea borne of dangerous illusions. … And then people disagreed with me.


  • I agree with your writing about NCLB!! That was the WORST mistake that could have been made. Luckily Schools can now ask for waivers from the mandates of NCLB!! School is important but if a teacher can't make it fun an exciting for the kids to learn then the kids get bored. Thats exactly what the NCLB did for teachers!! I am currently going to school to get my bachelors in Elementary Education and that is one of the hottest topics around. I have also learned it is harder to teach you own kids than it is someone elses!!

  • Oh god I never thought about them voting republican. Worried he might get a girl pregnant in High School.. Check! Get arrested for illegal drug use… Check! Vote Republican? Gods! How much stress you have put on my worry-dar now.

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