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.