Skip to main content

View Diary: Homeschooling: A Victim's Account (236 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Worked for us (43+ / 0-)

    We homeschooled our two daughters into high school, when they wanted the social experience of being with other teens and asked to attend specific schools.
    My wife is a professor, I was a Techie, and we did a quasi-"unschool" routine, augmenting their math learning with a couple of daily programs and seeking a tutor in writing essays. Otherwise it was museums, reading, discussing in the home, and so on.
    My older daughter did fine in high school, excelled in undergrad, and is starting grad school in the fall.
    My younger daughter is a 2nd year high schooler, has a 4.0 GPA for the both years, the highest grade in chemistry and pre-calc in the school, and seems to be just fine in terms of social adjustment.
    Our friends in our home-schooling community, all doing it for non-religious reasons (and all pretty much liberals), have all sent very successful children off to college and into the world.

    I think, like almost anything, it's what you bring to the situation that matters. If you both strive for excellence and constantly discuss interesting things you are exposed to, and facilitate your children to also explore the interesting things in the world, and you have a supportive home schooling community in your area, then it seems that kids grow up just fine this way.

    •  One of my good friends had a daughter who (27+ / 0-)

      begged to go to high school for her junior year after homeschooling her whole life. She was desperate for that social experience (she had tons of friends through other activities she was involved in, very home schooled kids "stay home."). After only one semester she wanted out. She was so used to being able to have free time for activities and in high school started taking most of her classes at the community college so instead of spending 5 days a week for a year on calculus she only had to do it in a semester.

      She still enjoys her friends, but does not want to waste 5 days a week in school from 7:30-3:00 with homework after that.

      In our area, the best high school option for bright kids in my opinion is the home school charter school. The kids attend community college and the school pays for their books. They graduate high school with high GPAs, their GE out of the way and they look way better on paper than their counterparts from the public high schools that waste kids time all day long.

      "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

      by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 11:51:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  School is about learning more than just (15+ / 0-)

        facts and figures.

        Part of high school and social situations is learning that you don't get everything your way. Sometimes you're going to excel and by virtue of lots of practice or being naturally good at something you'll be ahead of people around you. There are a lot of real life situations where you have to work with team members who maybe aren't as strong as you, and sometimes you have to sit through things you don't like or aren't interesting to you.

        I understand the other aspects too. I got straight A's in HS easily even though I used to sleep or read books under the table during my into courses because we moved before my first year of high school and the new school was so much easier.

        I was 2-3 years ahead in math in high school and ended up having to do independent study my last year because I finished all of the courses my high school had.

        When I was doing independent study in math I didn't really feel like doing that when I could be playing games, reading, hanging out with friends etc. So I ended up basically blowing off most of that course and didn't really learn anything from it.

        If I was in a class with a teacher who wasn't a parent and I had to pay attention and sometimes take tests it would have helped me a lot.

        This is coming from an independent person who does almost everything alone and likes my own time and my own schedule.

        When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

        by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:05:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Another part of high school is learning to live (19+ / 0-)

          with assholes day in and day out. I am so sick and tired of hearing how school teaches us about real life. Bullshit.

          School is nothing like real life. And for the most part, people go to work every day at different types of jobs and do not have to suffer the social and work situations created by school.

          My kids just had to sign academic integrity contracts at their school. One of the punishments for violating the contract is teachers will not be allowed to write letters of recommendation for you. One of the examples given for cheating on this contract is doing more or less than your fair share of work in a group project. Give me a break.

          At our local school kids are breathalyzed on the way in the door for dances and some sporting events. A zero tolerance policy for fighting means that if you are hit by a bully, you both get suspended. If you intervene to stop a fight, you will probably be suspended as well. Kids hate to go to dances because they only dancing done is "grinding" and it makes them uncomfortable. The homework load is ridiculous. One of my son's classes has a homework assignment due online tonight by 5:30. So don't plan on taking this holiday off, you have homework due.

          The kids I see who have chosen the homeschool pathway for high school are better educated and have more free time to participate in dance, theatre, volunteering, and other activities. They take a wider range of classes so they have completely different career aspirations from the AP kids who only take AP science classes and never get exposed to the humanities.

          "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

          by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:34:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have to disagree (2+ / 0-)

            If high school teaches kids to deal with assholes day in and day out, how is that not a good thing?  The real world is full of assholes.

            The real world is full of a lot of the same bullshit as high school -- rigid schedules, pointless meetings, peer pressure, popularity contests, nasty bosses, etc.

            Anybody can get book learnin' at home, but book learnin' is only a small part of what we get out of an institutionalized education.

            It's important to gain the social skills that allow us to succeed in a world full of assholes.

            They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

            by CharlieHipHop on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:02:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm with you and the diarist (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CharlieHipHop, suesue, earicicle

              Some of the most important lessons I've learned in life were learned at public k-12 school but that weren't part of the curriculum.  I think it's arrogant for parents to think that they can give their kids the same educational experience themselves that they would otherwise get at (just about) any school in the holistic sense.

              The very concept of homeschooling violates my liberal sensibilities because by its very nature, it undermines the concept of public education, which is why it is so popular on the right.

              Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

              by democracy inaction on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 06:21:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well. (5+ / 0-)

                Homeschooling doesn't violate my liberal sensitivities at all, since I've personally witnessed a major daily dosage of conservative positions and principles at our local public schools. That's why I'm so supportive of the public school teachers I know; they've got a huge challenge every day to get past the curriculum and administration to be able to actually teach anything effectively. For us, we had the freedom and ability to facilitate our child's learning at home (and on the road), so we did.

                The other thing I'll say is that parents don't give their kids anything; they facilitate the child's learning process. The "holistic" experience of learning takes place everywhere, from anyone, at any time. Taking your time in a museum exhibit, reading each placard so you get the historical and cultural context of the art piece, is far more of a learning experience than the usual dry facts-and-names that you get in history class. Example: I found a book that looked at the great Western composers through their historical times. It was filled with interesting facts regarding the political, cultural, and social environment in a composer's time. My daughter and I went through the whole book and we both learned an amazing amount about European history and historical culture. A lot about the composers too.

                The discussions we had in this and other cases showed me that children are natural liberals, when there's no conservative dogma being taught.

                •  So you're fine with conservatives indoctrinating (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bkamr, bluehammer

                  their children about how liberals are evil, religion is the literal truth etc?

                  That's another problem with homeschooling. At least in schools there is supposed to be a curriculum that is agreed upon and allows kids to learn on their own. For kids who aren't as lucky as you to have you as a parent, it might be the only chance they get.

                  School is nothing like real life. And for the most part, people go to work every day at different types of jobs and do not have to suffer the social and work situations created by school.
                  I don't understand the vitriol behind some of these responses. People absolutely deal with assholes at work and in different other situations every day.

                  The solution is to end bullying, train teachers better, design better programs, have more compassionate staff etc.

                  I understand that people don't want their kids to be the guinea pigs. If public school is not the answer then you should be advocating no one go to public school. If public school is ok for "those people" but not our kids then we have a problem here.

                  When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

                  by PhillyJeff on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:34:40 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
                  Homeschooling doesn't violate my liberal sensitivities at all...
                  First, the term I used was "sensibilities" not "sensitivities" so there's that; and if the concept of homeschooling doesn't violate your liberal sensibilities, then I'm not convinced you had them in the first place.

                  You can rationalize it any way you want but I stand by what I said.  Homeschooling by nature undermines the concept of public education, which is a cornerstone of liberalism and if eroding one of the cornerstones of liberalism doesn't offend you, then I have a difficult time believing you're any kind of liberal at all.

                  That's why I'm so supportive of the public school teachers I know...
                  Pulling your kids out of public school to teach them at home is not being "supportive" of public school teachers.  It could in fact be considered rather unsupportive.  I am also unsure how you define "supportive" in this context and I'm not sure that I want to know.
                  The other thing I'll say is that parents don't give their kids anything; they facilitate the child's learning process.
                  Then let me rephrase what I said before: I think it's arrogant for parents to think that their kids can get from them the same educational experience that they would otherwise get at (just about) any school in the holistic sense.

                  Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

                  by democracy inaction on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 05:08:16 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Since when do we deal with assholes (5+ / 0-)

              All day? I'm sorry but I do not believe that we have to suffer through abuse and other problems that many high schoolers have to prepare us for life later. I'm not convinced that is necessary preparation for adulthood and I think if it can be avoided it should.

              "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

              by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 08:32:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  High school is both exactly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              not a cent, ClapClapSnap

              like the real world, and completely unlike the real world, at the same time.

              I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

              by CFAmick on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 09:48:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Did it ever occur to you that the typical school (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

              environment actually teaches some people to be assholes? I'm sorry that your life requires you to deal with that kind of person.

            •  fail fail fail fail fail (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FloridaSNMOM, radical simplicity

              "We should send our kids somewhere really crappy and brutal to get them ready for their crappy lives"

              and

              "you gain social skills by surrounding yourself with knife-wielding drug addicts"

              I'm not buying that.

        •  Some kids don't learn to "deal with it" (6+ / 0-)

          I'm fucking sick and tired of hearing that being abused teaches a kid something, other than what it feels like to be abused every day.

          The majority of kids learn social rules by osmosis. But some of us don't learn that way. And when we are incarcerated in sent to public schools, our wonderful "socialization" consists of abuse and rejection. It sucks, it's terrible, and by and large teachers do nothing to stop it. My friends whose Aspie kids went to public school do not feel that their children were "socialized."

          Spare me your claptrap about how school is like real life. It's nothing like real life. In real life, if you are abused, you get to leave.

      •  Home schooling shouldn't be painted with (18+ / 0-)

        a broad brush and neither should public schools.   There are tons of public school kids with high GPAs entering universities with 20 or so advanced placement credits.   One of them is my oldest grandson.  

        He is 19 and in his third year at Michigan State University.   Because of his high ACTs scores, advanced placement credits, and HS grade point, MSU waived all his general ed/pre-reqs and turned him lose to register for classes he wanted.    This would have allowed him to finish his undergrad in less than 3 years, but he decided to pursue two degrees instead  - BS in Environmental Geosciences with a concentration in Geophysics and a BS  in Social Science: Socio-Environmental Interactions. He takes 18 credit hours a semester, carries a 4.0,  made the Dean's list all three years, works 15 or so hours a week, is founding father of a fraternity, and networked himself into an internship this summer doing research in his field at the University of London College, where he is hoping to do his grad work.   He's been to New Zealand and Panama and can't wait to add Europe to his global experience.  He wants to do research and teach at University.  

        Nobody pushed him but him.   Home schooled or public schooled, the individual child makes the difference.  Despite all the challenges and lack of structure this diarist experienced, he had the interest, drive and  self-discipline needed to learn and get ahead.  So did the public schooled boy I described above.  Not bad for 19.

        What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

        by dkmich on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 01:56:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My son is in a similar situation with his (6+ / 0-)

          public school education and will also enter school without having to take GE and plans on double majoring. But I'm a little sad because I think he would have loved college history and he never has to take a class. His AP classes are not good replacements for college classes. They were far more labor intensive, and less interesting.

          "Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.” --Lord Vetinari

          by voracious on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:23:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He might as well get a double degree (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            voracious, texasmom, peregrine kate

            like my grandson instead .   I mean, why not?   He was also counseled to skip a masters degree and to go straight for the doctorate.   Life is so very different.    When I talked to my 16 y/o grandson about careers, he said that most of the jobs his generation will do haven't even been invented yet.   He wants to be an engineer, he's just not sure which kind.  We think engineers will still exist, but who knows.    

            Your son's hard work will pay off, and he will have a blast. Just think of all the opportunity he will have to explore and create his brave new world.    I am sure our kids will do a better job of the future than we did.

            What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

            by dkmich on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 02:47:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Running Start (3+ / 0-)

        The program you are describing is called "Running Start" in some areas.  It is talented Jr/Sr High School students go to community colleges with the school district paying tuition.  For the self-motivated student, it is great.  The best can graduate from HS with two years of college credits.

    •  Yup. Homeschooling is hard work for the parents (7+ / 0-)

      ... At least if they're doing it right.

      You have to help your children find and follow their passions, and find ways to enable them to learn the skills they need (reading, writing, 'rithmatic, critical thinking, how to interact with humans, etc.) through it all.

      I think most parents who homeschool go into it with lots of motivation and determination to create a great education for their kids (yes, even the religious ones - even though they're sadly misguided regarding basic science). Unfortunately, once you get into the nitty gritty of doing this every day, for years, many parents lose the enthusiasm, but are still reluctant to put their kids into a system they believe is likely to leave their kids even less well prepared than a not-great homeschool experience. In those cases, an awful lot depends on the parents, the individual child, and the school system. Some will be less well prepared than if they'd gone to school, some more, and some the same.

      I know many people who don't understand the massive structural changes that have occurred in public education over the last 30 years. Secular homeschoolers tend to be all too aware of these changes, which is why it's hard for many to make the choice to send a child to school if homeschooling turns out to be too hard.

      Public school today is not even related to the system in which most of us grew up. In much of the country, it's NOT preparing students to be successful as adults. It's preparing them to fill in bubbles on a test, and to give lame, uncritical answers that they think the teachers want. In the local high school, my son's friend was given math homework in his junior year in which he had to place numbers on a number line. It woud have been fine as a 3rd grade exercise, but this was fricking pre-calculus, and he had an entire worksheet of mindless, pointless number-line ranking, instead of complex questions that would require a good 20 minutes of thought and analysis per question (which is what pre-calc was like for us, back in the day).

      Seeing that made us VERY happy to be homeschooling. Our son, two years younger, was working on problems like: determining where on earth a particular person was located based on the lengths of shadows cast by that person and another person of the same height, when they both stepped outside at the same time, and you knew their latitudes and a couple of other data points. He had to measure the shadow of the person at his location, and determine its angle relative to a certain point, then do the calculations to figure out how the differences between the data from the two different people could enable him to make an educated guess about the other person's location. He was teaching himself JAVA, so he could program a video game in conjunction with friends.  He took physics, because he wants to be a robotics engineer, and knew he would need to understand physics, among other things. He's currently learning the AI he needs to program a quad-rotor to fly autonomously between two points, and avoid obstacles, based on sensor data. He's also doing an internship in which he'll be helping MIT students design a DIY workshop based on his experience.

      He's able to do this because we unschool. It gives us the flexibility to leap at opportunities that arise in a way we couldn't if we were locked into a specific curriculum with specific timelines for learning specific things. If we were curriculum-based, we'd be too busy trying to make deadlines to be able to throw everything into the car and go meet some random college students two states away, on the off chance something might come of it.

      Part of the problem is that "unschooling" has been given many definitions. The one we use is best described as "child directed learning." We don't use a curriculum. Instead, we seek the materials and experiences that will support our children's interests, while building a scaffolding of the skills that enable them to become enthusiastic life-long learners.

      I think too many people who launch into "unschooling" are really doing "uneducating." There's a difference.

      Unschooling is much, much harder than curriculum based teaching, because you have to pay very close attention to your children, you have to learn about them, their learning styles, the methods that work to keep them engaged, etc.; then you have apply what you've learned by researching options for keeping them moving forward - and you're doing it all in real-time, pivoting according to what does and doesn't work for your child at that moment in their educational career.

      Our older child has graduated and is planning on college (after participating in an absolutely amazing gap-year opportunity). Our younger one is pursuing his dream with passion.

      In the mean time, we're working with local parents, teachers, and school administrators to change the local school system. We've got a unique opportunity as the state switches from NCLB to Common Core. The schools will be able to get away with a transition year in which the standardized test results won't count, because the curriculum isn't in place, yet (of course, it still has to be administered, pointlessly). This means we get to work out a curriculum that will give the kids the kind of place-based, project focused (not all projects are done in groups) learning that will enable them to learn critical thinking, to learn that learning is fun, and to learn that education is relevant to their real lives. It won't be quite as customizable as homeschooling, but if we do it right, it will be leaps and bounds better than the rote memorization, breadth instead of depth, limited focus on test-taking that has characterized education for the last couple of decades.

      BTW - You would be STUNNED at how much time is spent on testing in many districts. It's quite literally insane.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site