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.

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Rob A. says:

I’m an editor and, hey, don’t be insulting sentence diagramming — there are lots of people who could benefit from some of that….As to making some of one’s best friends while going through the torture of some shared experience: it has always applied to military service (boot camp, combat) as well….

Hannah Elise says:

Commented earlier, but I came across this post in my RSS feed and thought it brught up some good points about the costs of home education versus private education versus public education. It's not as cut and dry as some might think.

http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com/2012/02

I especially liked the summarizing paragraphs at the end.

Amanda says:

I think the decision of school vs. home school is something we all have to make for ourselves. For some people, home schooling is the best option. For other people, not so much. And either option is okay.

Also, I find it is very important to mention that just because you decide to send your child to public school does not mean that the school becomes their only option for learning. You can supplement what they are learning in school. Sure you could say "I shouldn't have to do that" and you might be right, but it is what it is.

Personally, I can't home school my children. I really just don't think it would work out. And I'm okay with that. My oldest goes to a great public school (we live in Canada, not sure if that makes a difference haha) and in a few years his younger brother will join him.

Veronica says:

My mom homeschooled six kids WAY before it was popular because the public schools in our neighborhood were disastrous (there's a reason the middle school was nicknamed Pine Penitentiary). Both of my parents are professors and my mother is a social butterfly, so we turned out okay. As a criminal defense attorney (AKA the profession for failed actors with lots of student loans), I like to think I have both the academic prowess and the social skills necessary to survive.

Now, my little brother is somewhat lacking in the social skills area, but he's also an astrophysicist at MIT. I'd say his lack of social skills is due more to that fact than him being homeschooled.

None of this really matters. The important thing is that neither of us are Republican senators.