Home away from home? I certainly hope not.

The new issue of Big Apple Parent is out, with its’ bold headline that reads, “Get Schooled!”  and purports to give parents everything they need to know in order to choose the best school for their child.

Inside, the headline is “Multiple Choice”, (aren’t they clever?) and the first sentence reads “School is a home away from home.”   Really?   Well, that would be sad, if it were true.  Do you know of any homes where 20-35 kids of the same age spend their entire day in one room, or moving about from room to room every 45 minutes or so to be taught by someone who is not a member of their family?   Where they must get permission to go to the bathroom?  Or eat?  Where they are not allowed to play?

Me neither.

Like so many articles that sell schools & schooling to parents, this one tries to make it sound like schools are an extension of your family and that is why it is so important to find one that is a good ‘fit’.

Each child is unique, so it’s fitting that they are taught in diverse ways — there’s public, private, progressive, traditional, gifted & talented [ick!], and even specialized schools that focus heavily on certain subjects.

Whether applying for public or private preschool, pre-K, elementary, middle or high school, experts and parents who have been through the process say that a successful educational path is as much dependent upon the school as it is on parent involvement and overall happiness of the child and family.

That quote makes part of me want to laugh, and the other part scream.  Please know that in an article which repeatedly talks about the importance of family, parent involvement and happiness of the child, not once is homeschooling mentioned as an option.  And unschooling?   I doubt the author of “Multiple Choice” even knows what it is.

School is not an extension of the family.  In fact, it is almost always the other way around.  The family becomes an extension of the school, with parent ‘involvement’ being, more often than not, a way for the school to reach into the home to make sure homework is done and school policy upheld.

Then there is this:

[The] ultimate destination, according to Paul Lowe, M.D., CEO of Private School Admissions Advisors is to “get into a great college and enjoy the academic journey.”

Umm, Paul Lowe, you who make money off of “advising” parents how to get their child into private school?  I have two words for you.  Hog. Wash.   The ultimate destination is a happy, successful life, which is definitely not determined by getting into a “great college”. For more on that, I refer you once again to Michael Ellsberg’s “Education of Millionaires”, and also “The Selected Letters of John Holt.”  (And come to think of it, Dale Stephens’ Uncollege or Blake Boles Zero Tuition College)

Articles like this kill me.   Quotes like this even more so:

Dr. Lowe strongly advises parents to “seriously observe their child, because no one else will understand him better than you do.  Parents need to be the advocates.  They should be deeply involved in their child’s education.”

Except of course if that means keeping your kid out of school altogether.   Except of course if you believe they don’t need college to be successful.  THEN you’re just seen as weird, or overly involved, or even hindering your child’s ‘chances’.

Answer me this:  If parents know their children better than anyone; if they need to be deeply involved in their child’s education and if, as the article states, the top priority is what is most important for your family, then why do we need schools at all?

The short answer is, we don’t.

We don’t need a “home away from home”, we just need a home.    We don’t need parents working closely with teachers, we just need parents and children living and learning together.

There is no better educational path than that.

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