The New York Times, in its’ online Education section, has been running a series of articles under the heading “Student Opinion”. They ask students age 13 or older to comment on articles pertaining to different education-related subjects. This morning someone on the homeschool email list posted the link to the latest Student Opinion article, titled “Would You Want to be Homeschooled?”
I encourage you to read the article – and the 70 or so comments that follow, but in case you don’t have time to do that right now, here is a condensed version. The Times excerpted an article relating one woman’s experience with being homeschooled in the 70’s, then asked students the following:
Tell us about your experiences and thoughts about home-schooling. Do you think this type of education can prepare children for the “real world”? How might it be better than traditional schooling? What might children miss from not attending a regular school? Do you agree with the writer’s mother that working at one’s own pace and following one’s genuine interests is the best way to learn?
The first response came in at 8:08AM yesterday morning, the day the article was published:
No I would not like to be home-schooled. I don’t think you learn as much and get the skills needed to survive in the real world. One of the huge real world skills is being able to socialize and when you’re home-schooled you don’t really get any social activity. Therefore, you really wouldn’t have many friends and it would be hard to apply for a job and speak well at an interview.
Others followed every few minutes for the next hour or so (all the responses are printed exactly as they appeared in the comments section):
In my opinion, i would never turn to home schooling. When you are home schooled, you automaticly loose the whole social experience of school. In the real world you need to be social. Otherwise you’re going to get know where. I understand that the learning education might be to an advantage while homeschooling because its all one on one and you are the only student reciveing all the help you need whenever you need it. I would never home school my child because I would be holding them back from friends and the social life they will need in the feature. I would never even consider home schooling.
This next one is possibly my favorite:
I don’t think homeschooling can prepare children for a real world because when your home schooled, you’re away from the real world and you probably wouldn’t know how to communicate with other people. School is where you learn how to work with others and communicate but if you don’t have no one else but your parents with this type of education, it would be hard when they release you into the real world. But if you’re home schooled, you wouldn’t have to be pressured with drugs. I also disagree with the writers mother when she says that working at one’s own pace and following one’s genuine interests is the best way to learn.
That’s just priceless. This commenter believes it’s much better to learn at someone else’s pace and not a good idea to follow your own genuine interests. (Is this kid looking for brownie points with the teacher?)
I believe that home-schooling doesn’t prepares children and teenagers for the ” Real world”. It doesn’t let children that chance to be in a social community with more kids or people. I think Home-schooling has his dos and dont’s.
No I would not like to be home schooled because then I wouldn’t have a chance to meet any of my friends that I know now and I wouldn’t be going to the awsome school that i’m at now. I also think I wouldn’t be able to stand my mom for the six hours.
Being homeschooled you can miss out on makeing friends and you might not have that well of an education. you would be missing out on alot. you need to be socaila and confident about talking in front of peopl and being around everyone and when your homeschooled it doesnt prepare you for that.
I would not want to be homeschooled because I would like to be friends with people. I would also want to play sports in highschool. It is better to get out of the house then to be locked in.
Umm, “locked in”?
Ok, so there you have a sampling of the responses from schooled children, age 13 and over, who may or may not have been responding as part of a class exercise. (Extra credit, perhaps?) What is patently clear is that none of these responders know anything about the reality of homeschooling.
Luckily there were also quite a few comments from homeschooled/unschooled children. This first comment is from a child who was in public school but who now homeschools:
Hi, I am homeschooled and I am having a great experience. Its not like homeschooling blocks you out from the real world. Most people who are homeschooled have other activities that involve other people. I use to go to public school and was bored to death because it was way to easy. Homeschooling is much more challenging and you learn a lot more. Also, I could move at my own pace which gives me the opportunity to skip a grade.
The next two are self-explanatory:
I have been home schooled my whole life and I LOVE it, it is the best thing that has happened to me. My sister was home schooled for her whole life too and she is now studying neuroscience and loving it. I disagree with with all the comments saying that when you are home schooled you cant get the skills needed to survive in the real world. I find it is quite the opposite, I think you get more knowledge of what happens in the real world when home schooled, as you are living in the real world. Now what I don’t like about it is, the fact that I live in a small town with very few other home schoolers. All I needed to do was travel and join clubs such as karate to meet other people my age. I have many friends of different ages, but wanted to meet more in my age bracket. I just went to the Not Back to School Camp and met LOADS of other people living outside of the conventional idea that kids need to be in school.
In my experience, home schoolers actually spend lots of time in the real world, doing real things, with people of all ages. Which is what your life is like after you graduate from school. Its schooled kids who aren’t in the real world, because where else in life are you locked away for 7 hours a day with only your same aged peers to hang out with? And home schoolers have all day to socialize and often do. Schooled kids get in trouble for socializing in school.
There are several more that I considered printing, but in the interest of brevity I’ll stop here, but again encourage you click on the link to the article and read the others on your own.
What struck me was that the comments were perhaps a bit more revealing than the people behind the “Education” section had anticipated. Don’t you think? What is the point of such articles and exercises? Is there a point? Is there something to learn here? There is, of course, but the real question is will anyone bother to learn it?
As a quick aside, I was going through job applications for our store earlier this week; mostly college grads applying for a dispatcher position paying $10/hour, and one of them wrote that she is a “photogenic learner”. Seriously?
Michael Ellsberg (my current favorite author) sums it up quite nicely in his book The Education of Millionaires:
“Of course, in order to express your originality, you have to be original – and it’s an oxymoron to teach someone to be original. But one thing that helps is removing from your mind the decades of programming we’ve received in school to play it safe, conform, fit in, stick to the crowd, don’t stand out. That’s a ticket straight to the purgatory of the center of a foot-high resume stack, right where most recent college grads end up.”